Driving through Ethiopia is not necessarily a relaxed activity. There are people and animals (cows, donkeys, goats, chicken, horses) everywhere on the road. We almost lost control of the vehicle after nearly killing a baby goat. Although the animals are unpredictable, the people are even worse. Although they come in different types.
Type one is the best: the ‘this is my road’ kind of people, they will be in the way but they will also ignore you. Type two are the staring kind of people, they stick to you like glue and stare and laugh in your face without shame. Type three are the beggars, the ‘money, money, me, me, pen, pen’ kind of people. And the worst type are the ‘Farangi!’ – meaning foreigner – kind of people, who scream at you and make angry signs. They even throw rocks at the car. You can guess, sometimes we get pretty annoyed, especially if all of these people come at the same time when you are doing a supply run. We are wondering if the special aid has something to do with the attitude of the Ethiopians towards foreigners. In every small town we see Unicef or Save the Children billboards, so maybe they see foreigners as people who just give money?
Anyway, having said that, driving in Ethiopia is also pretty amazing. The most scenic drives so far. After the Simien Mountains we made a day trip to the Blue Nile Falls from Bahir Dar. These falls are still worth a visit, despite the fact that half of the water is now diverted from the falls through an electric power plant. We walked around the falls for about 2 hours, which we really enjoyed.
We had a long drive from Bahir Dar to Lalibela, where we visited the churches carved out of stone. We also learned not to trust our old Lonely Planet which stated that the price for a visit is 100 Birr (3,30 euro)…the price is now 50 dollar per person, ouch! A bit shocked by this, we still decided to go and make the most of it. We walked around, went through the mazes and entered the eleven churches. It’s definitely a unique site!
In Lalibela we decided to skip Addis Ababa and drive to Awash National Park. After having slept in a shithole of a place on the road, we arrived in Awash NP where we could camp at a lodge. A great place to relax and explore the park. It’s no Kenya yet, but we did see crocodiles, baboons, lesser kudu, oryx, jackal, dikdik, vervet monkeys (one invited himself for breakfast), oribi, warthog and lots of birds.
After Awash, we slept a night on the shore of Lake Langano before we went on to the Bale Mountains. It was quite the adventure getting there as it was raining and we almost got stuck in the deep muddy tracks. After a couple of hours we reached the highest mountain top in Africa that you can reach by car! And the landscape? You wouldn’t say you are in Ethiopia, who said Scotland was not a good preparation trip for Africa 😉