Four Wheels Around - A Road Trip from the UK to South Africa

In February 2009 we are setting off on the trip of a lifetime from Brighton, E-Sussex, UK to South Africa. Furthermore, we are raising money for the British Red Cross along the way. This blog will cover our preparation until we leave and our adventures whilst we are on the road.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Ethiopia continued:

In Ethiopia it was impossible for me to update the blog for a couple of reasons. Firstly the speed of the internet connections which i mentioned previously was incredibly slow and unreliable. Also I was unable to access this site which meant I emailed updates back home and my family back updated the last entry for me.

When I last wrote we had just reached Addis Ababa. We spent 5 days there, 2 at Wims Holland House, a rather disorganised affair but with great food. From there we went to meet some friends of my Aunt Ros, called Annie and Colin. Colin is currently working out in Addis with the organisation VSO. His jobs sounds very interesting if not tough and he and Annie seem to have settled in well in Ethiopia. They were very hospitable and it was lovely to stay in an actual house, in a real bed, with a real shower etc!

We clebrated my birthday which was very strange being so far away from home. It made me feel a little homesick not being able to celebrate with my family and friends but it is just another day! Luckily Mandy and Jacques (The SAFs) and Celine and Guianne were on hand to help me have a good time. We went to a restaurant partly because it had a largeand varied menu which offered something other than 'injera'. When it came to order we were all quite enthusiastic about the impending meal. The waiter informed us at every order, 'we do not have, finish' ('Finish' seems to be used all over Africa as a synonym for 'we do not have') so our choice was restricted to Ethiopian national food or spagetti! When the food came it was actually very very good, I wish that the same could have been said for the Ethiopian wine. Axumite....

After the meal we tracked down the retro bowling alley in the Genet Hotel that we had been told about. We had a nice, very fast game of bowling (as the bowling alley was due to shut) and had a few drinks at Wims place.

Addis Ababa is a grimy city, like most towns in Ethiopia it has open sewerage drains and a distinct lack of electricity and water. It does however, have a certain charm to it and some very good museums. Including the 'Lucy' exhibition, a 3.3 millions year old copy of a skeleton found In Ethiopia back in the 1970s. The ethnographic museum is also worth a butchers.

Post Addis we set off with Mandy and Jacques on a slow meander towards the Kenyan border. We stopped for a night at the tea coloured Lake Langano in the rift valley. We had a swim but the sight of a hippo not too far away caused us to abandon the swim pretty sharpish. From Langano we headed off to Awasa stopping briefly in rastafarian centre of Africa - Shashemene.

In Shashemene we got offered a lot of ganga which we politely refused and visited the banana art gallery. The gallery is run by a rastafarian named Ras Hailu Teferi (B.A.N.D.I). He creates art using the leaves, bark and flowers of the banana plant. He uses no colours, stains, dyes in the process. It is all natural. I was quite impressed with the gallery and particularly liked a few of the pictures. B.A.N.D.I was very helpful in his explanations regarding, Haile Selaisse aka Ras Tafari, Ethiopia and Shashmene's importance in the Rastafarian way of life.

We headed South to lakeside town of Awasa where we found a beautiful spot to camp very close to the lake. We went to look at the facilities at the campsite and came backto find the car surrounded by and covered with monkeys. Vervet monkeys and even Colubus monkeys were hanging off and around the cars. We spent a few days in Awasa relaxing by the lake, the weather was good and the scenery was beautiful. From there we drove down to Arba Minch. Arba Minch is famous for its crocs and for a small national park. In Arba Minch we visited a crocodile ranch. This ranch is basically a farmand we were informed that it had a number of purposes.
1) To educate people about crocs.
2) To conserve them.
3) To sell their skin to the Middle East.
I will let you reserve judgement about that.

In Southern Ethiopia we had our first taste of African wildlife. In Necsher National park (Arba Minch) we saw baboons, dik diks, crocs, hippos, an abundence of bird life, zebras. On of the fantastic things about Ethiopia's national parks is how un touristy the remain. They are very cheap, we are talking a total of US$20 for 2 people and a foreign vehicle for a 24 hr period. In Kenya we are talking US$50 pp for a day entry so you can imagine how much it costs for a foreign vehicle and overnight camping on top. The wildlife is not so dramatic as what is on offer in East Africa but nevertheless it was lovely to be able to explore a national park without seeing another tourist.

Our final stop in Ethiopia was Konso. By this point we had pretty much had enough of having things thrown at us and persistantly being shouted atby anyone and everyone andso we decided to make a bit push for the border from Konso in one day. Whilst in Konso we stayed at Strawberry Fields a lodge/campsite that focuses on permaculture. Konso has a lively monday market which I visited before we left.

The border crossing from Ethiopia to Kenya was as easy as Sudan to Ethiopia. We managed to buy a transit visa so we could pass through Kenya within a week and reach Uganda where some of the Ramsay and Janczer clan are heading out to Uganda next week. I will update about our Kenyan adventures later, including our adventures on that infamous bandit Moyale to Isiolo track!


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