Travel Report Ethiopia
15.04. - 24.06.2014
1€ = ca. 26,62 Birr Status 04/2014
0,69 € /Ltr
Part I > Metema - Debre Damo 15.04. - 01.05.2014 845 km
Right after the border a good tarmac road leads in many curves up into the highlands. The climate becomes more pleasant, and after the desert heat of Sudan we really appreciate this. Continuously it goes up. Ethiopia is not called the "roof of Africa" wrongly.
The villages we pass are right on the street. Many people are traveling on foot, partly they drive their goats or cattle herds with them, or they carry heavy loads on their heads. In Ethiopia, there are only a few roads, basically only the main routes, the distances to the remote villages have to be done on foot or by donkey. This is also the reason that we find it very difficult to find a place to sleep. The mountainous landscape and the lack of branches make it almost impossible of turning "just so" and pitch the camp. Only after some time we see a small way that leads into a field, where we spend our first night.
We have breakfast in front of the car and it does not take long until the first curious kids show up. They sit down next to our table on the grass and look up to us, every move is closely monitored. And when we break up, they wave us by friendly, not without asking after "Money" or "T-Shirt" carefully.
It drops us right in the eye, that there is no waste in Ethiopia. The country seems totally tidy and clean. Later we learn that this is organized. Garbage is picked up and placed in pits, where it is either buried or burned. Thus, Ethiopia stands out from the countries visited so far not only geographically. ...read more...
Part II > Debre Damo - Addis Ababa 01. 05. - 28.05.2014 1.629 km
Just beyond the village Hawzien we arrive by chance at the "Gheralta Lodge". It is beautifully embedded in the terrain. We are lucky. Normally, the patron does not allow individual travelers on his site, but somehow it seems he likes us and so he makes an exception. The deal is we take the catering and can stay on the ground and so we enjoy the luxury of a 4 course menu and a breakfast buffet although we sleep in our beds. We spend four nights at the lodge and enjoy the beautiful view of the plain and the mountains of Gheralta. Once again we use the time to clean and repair our toilet. The pump does not create vacuum anymore. We are puzzled.
The area, Tigrai, is known for its rock churches. Some are accessible only by daring climbs. Before we leave, we ask for some hints which to visit.
So we head for the small town of Debre Zion. Of course, we again are received by the usual crowd of children and a guide. Again tough negotiations follow. The guide, the assistant of the guide, the man who brings the man who has the key for the Church, and finally the man who has the key of the church, all want to be paid. Understood?
You also have to pay the entrance to the church. And in addition you have to pay extra in case you are shown extra sights, like books etc.
We come to an agreement and start the ascent. First, the path goes over boulders, then steeply up hill over rocks. With some breathers due to lack of condition and the high altitude, it takes us about 1.5 hours on the way. Already on the way up the panorama is beautiful and even the way up, is worth to be conquered. Once at the top you have a fabulous view over the plain of Gheralta and some other churches that were built in or on the mountains.
Debre Sion Abuna Abraham is a great rock church with paintings from the 15th century and it holds an incredible book. ... read more ...
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Part III >> Addis Ababa - Border to Kenya 28.05. - 24.06.2014 2.219 km
After Addis Ababa we drive through large suburbs in which industry has settled. There is live on the street. We drive past giant plants. The towns of Debre Zeit and Nazaret, on the road to the port Djibouti from where Ethiopia is supplied from or on the road to Kenya, are the main industrial site locations of Ethiopia. Therefore, the route to the South is heavily frequented by trucks.
We set up "our mouth" southbound through the magnificent countryside between the many volcanic crater lakes that have been formed millions of years ago here in the African Rift Valley. We are passing huge growing areas, the granary of the country. In the lakes we see flamingos, pelicans, great eagles circling above. Unfortunately, the lakes are polluted with bilharzia, so swimming is no option for us.
At one of the lakes, the Langano, we stay for a week. And do - NOTHING! It is a lovely spot. You can even swim in the reddish brown colored water. Due to the high soda content, there is no risk of bilharzia. Every day we discover new birds. After eight days, we pack again. A bald eagle sits in the treetops above us and is watching us when packing. We have almost forgotten where we are, so relaxing it was. And so the "jujuju" and "Ferengi" shouts of the children, who sounded loudly as we leave the camp, do not annoy so much.
We want to go to the Bale Mountains and on a good dirt road we "climb" through farmland and woods back up to 2700 meters. ... read more ...
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Even after two months traveling in this country, we mean, Ethiopia is not an easy country to visit. It is making great demands on all your senses. And, it's exhausting. The poverty, the beggars, the friendly and less friendly encounters and last but not least, the incredibly fantastic landscapes. All these things have to be assimilated.
Ethiopia is, as regards to the safety of life and limb, a safe and peaceful country to travel, with an incredible number of attractions. But Ethiopia is also extreme deforestation and mismanagement, poverty and hunger. It is a country in which it almost everywhere lacks infrastructure and the smallest amenities, so there is still very rarely running water.
People seem closed, even rude at first glance, but if you respond or even just smile the warmth of its people comes over. They talk and talk, no matter whether one understands them. They are incredibly poor, farm their fields with ploughs made of wood and oxen , yet they are proud of their culture, their religion and their traditions. The young people are confident and learn early to take on responsibility.
And then there's this knee-jerk begging. How to deal with it? There everyone has to find his own way.
It took a while until we come to terms with the overpriced ticket prices and the "rip-off" in the tourist places, such as in the national parks. In Ethiopia you just "must" have a guide and you just have to pay for everything. There is always somebody coming supplementary who also should get something. If you have internalized that, then can you love Ethiopia. Also, if you cannot make a stop and no Bush Camp without gather a lot of people around you.
Ethiopia is a country of contrasts and contradictions. For travelers who take their time and get involved in the country it’s an enrichment and an incredible experience.
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Ethiopia I - Tour to the North
Ethiopia II - Through the Highlands to the South
Ethiopia III - From Addis Ababa to the border of Kenya
... People of Ethiopia