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Our route



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We crossed a small bridge and were welcomed into a thatched hut, the immigration office. The official was very nice and friendly and we were even given a questionnaire at the end to rate his performance. (Why is it only the good ones that ask how they are doing?) After immigration we drove 35km to the customs office. This time concrete but two friendly people filled in all the forms.

We drove to Gonder along a fairly good gravel road. The area was definitely more inhabited than anywhere in Sudan. Gonder was busy but we headed up to the Ghoa hotel where there is an amazing view over the town. Nigel and Simon splashed out on a room and they let us camp in the car park. We had a few beers watching the sunset and settled in for a couple of nights to refresh the batteries. We went for a wander into Gonder and were pleasantly surprised, we changed some money and organised insurance.


Photo 0909 Sunrise over Palace, Gonder

Prices of goods in the shops were a bit more realistic after the Sudanese prices but no where near as low as in Egypt.



After Gonder, Bahir Dar and the Blue Nile Falls, but in between an absolutely terrible stretch of road. The Japanese were doing up the road, but all of it at once, so we couldn't drive on any of it. They had constructed some extremely bumpy diversions and lots of wiggles but we got there in the end. We camped in Bahir Dar at the Ghion hotel where they were really friendly and Nigel introduced us to all the birds in the gardens. We had out first taste of Wot and ingera, the traditional dish in Ethipoia. The wot was good but forget the ingera.

(Photo 0922 Blue Nile Falls)

From there we visited the Blue Nile Falls and bathed in the edge of the plunge pool. The falls were impressive even though it was the dry season so not that much water was going over them.

From Bahir Dar we drove east to Addis Ababa, we took the direct road through the Blue Nile Gorge. A gorge about 1km deep cut by the Blue Nile into the highlands. The scenery was amazing, green lush hillsides and valleys with people everywhere, farming and goat and cattle herding.
Scenery between Bahir Dar and Dejen Photo 0947
Early morning view into the Blue Nile Gorge Photo 0962

As soon as they saw us the child goatherds came running towards us, some waved and shouted, some asked for pens and sweets but we waved at them all. Unfortunately the rumours about Ethiopian children were proved to be correct and some of them threw stones at us.

One stone went through Nigel's rear window, luckily not the front window where Simon was sat.
Thatched houses and acacia trees
Photo 0975
Bale Mountains approach road
Photo 1000

We arrived in Addis Ababa and camped in the grounds of the Bel Air hotel with lots of other travellers. Most of them were on their way north so we got some useful contacts. We stayed there for three nights as we sorted out Kenyan visas and third party yellow card insurance for Nelly. After asking around lots and lots we ended up getting a Yellow card insurance for all countries south of here for 180birr, a real bargain. Meanwhile Nigel got a new window and Chris looked at Nelly's spring.

From Addis Ababa we drove south to Ziway and into the Great Rift Valley. The lake had hundreds of birds. We looked at the lake for about an hour and saw 35 different species including the weird Maribou stork. From there the only way was up, into the Bale Mountains. The scenery changed dramatically from lush mountains to short alpine flowers and the people vanished.

Photo 1006
Dinsho Campsite
Photo 1022
Harenna escarpement
Photo 1028
view from the Rira campsite

We went to Dinsho where the view from the campsite was amazing and we needed a fire to warm us in the evening.



A short wander from the campsite and you could see Mountain Nyala.
The next day the throttle cable on Nelly snapped as Chris started her. We limped down to Robe using the hand throttle and found a garage to weld it back together. All fixed we went up to the plateau and found simien wolves and then descended to the harenna forest. The views down to the south were stunning.


The rocks were sticking up asking to be climbed, if you can get through the undergrowth to them and the forest extended off into the distance. There were very few people about and we found a brilliant campsite with a fireplace and stream next to it.



We rested there and then continued south through the forest. We gradually saw more and more people but none asked for anything and some were accompanied by camels. It was quite different from the rest of Ethiopia, quite refreshing.


We turned east back to the rift valley and went on to Awassa. The roads were still gravel and in places we had to cross river valleys, most were dry but some were quite steep sided and one had an EC funded bridge. The noise of the wood rattling as you drive over it is very disconcerting, definitely a one vehicle at a time sort of bridge.

Photo 1052 EC funded bridge


The hotel there had a swimming pool which they started to fill just after we arrived and by the next afternoon it was full enough for a dip. Warm spring water but wonderful. The campsite also had some very curious locals.



Photo 1080 Curious Locals

We stocked up on petrol, including 100 litres in our new plastic yellow cans on the roof, not ideal but do as the locals do. We had found out that some places east of Addis Ababa didn't have petrol, only diesel or Kerosene. Next stop was Arba Minch and the Nechisar Plains National Park. Nigel and Simon stayed overlooking the park whilst we went inside. There were lots of zebras and gazelles and some crocodiles, hartebeast and more great scenery. We saw some locals and only one other vehicle all day.

From there we headed south towards the Omo region and Konso. On the way we had a power problem and changed the T piece on the exhaust but no improvement. A new fuel filter and a clean out of the fuel lines with the air line and the tube blew off the fuel pump. Nigel towed Nelly to Konso where we could get into the petrol tank and reattach the hose.

From Konso we went on to Turmi where it was market day. The market was very small as it was late afternoon and by this time there wasn't much to buy. We were surrounded by children and most just wanted to touch and play with us. We went to the campsite and there was a thunderstorm. An hour later the river along the side of the campsite, which we drove across to get to the market, was flooded and then two hours later it was gone. We drove on to Omorate the next day where we were stamped out of Ethiopia. We then turned south to Illeret and Kenya.


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