Wednesday, April 17, 2024



On our flight back to Addis we discuss going to see the Dankali Depression. We would love to go but it means flying north again, 2 nights away from GR2 and hours in the back of a 4x4. Hmmm maybe not with my wrist that is sporting a massive lump and a huge bruise, and with John not quite 100%

Another night in Alexis’ driveway before heading back south. We need to stop for diesel whenever we see it as there is a huge shortage.  All the fuel comes from Djibouti and there are problems with pirating again. Up north the queues of trucks are crazy (they can wait a whole day for fuel!) Before we exit the city, we fill up, then spend the day driving to Arba Minch, stopping at Awasa to put in more diesel. We need to keep our tanks topped up. There are showers on and off all day. Oh bother, the little wet season has arrived. At Arba Minch we return to the Eco Resort for a quiet night.

After such a huge day we have a slow start before hunting down more diesel. A local guy leads us on his motorbike to where we can get a no plate made. It’s a hilarious drive as he keeps swapping his mode of transport when his motorbike stops completely. Anyway, John gets his sticker made to the amusement of many locals before we head out of town.  We decide to take the mountain road – and we have been told that its good. It’s not! First it is broken, potholed seal and then gravel with massive puddles from all the rain. It’s a really steep climb through stunning countryside. Lots of thatched huts and heaps of crops. At the top there is a busy market town with great views over the lake. Then we plunge down into the clouds as we wind our way back down to join the lower road which is a wet, muddy, sometimes slippery drive with plenty to see. Bananas being collected, men & oxen ploughing the fields and hundreds of little villages huddled near the road.  It’s 4pm by the time we reach Konso, so we head up the hill to the lovely Kunta Lodge where we can camp. A tad pricey, but non-negotiable. There is a two-tier price system here. For the same room locals pay $23US and foreigners $80US. But hey this is Africa! And we have to pay $20 to sleep in our truck in the carpark.

Today we head out on the side road to Jinka in the Omo Valley. The road isn’t too bad and the scenery magic with the hills terraced and cropped. We reach Key Afar and don’t see the market that is supposed to be on, but as we continue, we see lots of Hamer people walking to town. I guess the market hasn’t started yet! The ladies all have the gorgeously hennaed and ringleted hair.  We do make a stop when guys from a truck that has slidden off the road wave us down for a tow. Fortunately, John can pull it out going downhill or it may have been too hard a task. The guys are incredibly grateful!

It is early afternoon by the time we pull into Jinka and drive into the Jinka Resort where we can camp in the carpark. Time to arrange a trip to see the Mursi people. Guides are compulsory so we have decided to go with the guide in a 4x4. A good choice as heavy rain has made the road slippery. We find a village and wander around. It is definitely an eye opener. Simple straw huts with a fire in the middle and mats on the floor. Cooking pots hang on the walls. But the most confronting thing is the women’s dangling lips into which a huge plate is inserted. Nowadays it is up to the women themselves if they go through the piercing and stretching process. Men & women have body scarring in decorative patterns all over their bodies. We wander and chat. John plays with the little boys – oh so cute!  As we head out, we spy Mursi men herding their cattle and are surprised that they are start naked!

Time to move on, but our next village is inaccessible due to the rain so we head back to town to visit an Ari village. They are pastoralists and so we get a glimpse into life on their farms with pot making, blacksmithing and cooking the local food of injera (like a pancake that you pull into pieces to use to scoop up food). Later that afternoon we head back out of town in our truck. This time we turn off at Key Afar on a dirt road to Dimeka. The land here is flat and the people are herding their cattle and goats. As we roll into town huge storm clouds loom so we quickly pull into the grotty National Hotel where we can camp in their driveway. Just in time before the deluge.

When the rain clears, we explore the friendly town. Sadly, very few photos as they are a no no or you must pay! We stop and watch ladies putting henna in their friend’s hair. Would have loved a snap, but oh well, it’s a great memory.  Down the road the normally dry riverbed is in full flood. It is amazing how fast the water rises. The next day is market day so we are determined to get to this one. We finally find the venue but it hasn’t started yet so we hang around and get surrounded. Obviously, we are the main attraction today. By midmorning people start to pour in and stalls are set up. We wander around and I sneak photos at a distance. Everything comes at a cost here (sadly)

During this time, we have queried a few people about watching the “running of the bulls”, but we are getting very evasive answers, and after a few hours of guarding the truck John has had enough. We think it highly unlikely a bull event will happen today while everyone is at the market, and this level of attention is getting exhausting. We decide to head out of town and drive back to Konso to stay again at the Kanta Lodge. Finally, some good Wifi so we can chase up our Kenyan visas that still haven’t come through. We discover we need an actual Hotel booking (somehow last time we managed without it), so we use good old and attach the link.  But tomorrow is Sunday, so we doubt they will arrive until Monday (fingers crossed)

In the morning, we get more diesel before heading towards the border. We decide to stop at Yabelo by lunchtime. We don’t want to spend another night at Moyale and there is nothing in between. Amazingly as we hunt down a Hotel an Ethiopian guy who now lives in Perth waves us down and leads us to a great little Pension in a back street where we can stay. Awesome. Sam and John while away a few hours in the bar before Sam takes us on a tuk-tuk tour of the properties he has bought in the area. 

By 8am the next morning our visas arrive, so we say our goodbyes and high tail it to Moyale. We want to get there before they stop for their 2-hour lunch break and we nearly make it. They close up shop as we are stamped back into Kenya. But they won’t let us exit. We need to pay road tax so John negotiates a discount. Fortunately, they don’t make us wait the whole 2 hours and before long we are heading to Marsabit where we head to Henry’s Camp. It has been a long day.

Our plan had been to head out to the famous jade lake called Turkana. Last year we couldn’t go because of flooding, but unfortunately the little wet season has started and already there are huge puddles in the desert, so its not worth risking getting stuck on slippery roads. Oh well we will continue to Nairobi to get our electrics fixed and hopefully buy some new tyres. After a peaceful night at Henrys Camp, we head off on our drive south. We stop yet again at Naro Moru and find the pool a bit cool, but we still get glimpses of Mt Kenya despite the storm clouds brewing. The next day the sun is shining and Mt Kenya is bright and clear. We head off early for the big smoke. Well, Murphys Law is in play today. Last night we messaged the electrics place only to discover today is a Muslim holiday and they are closed. We will have to sort out the tyres and head to Acacia Camp. Oh, but the tyre shop is closed too, so we settle for filling up with food and fuel and relax at Acacia Camp for the rest of the day.

In the morning the electrics are fixed (all under warranty – what a bonus), but the tyres are a no go. More research is needed! Time to head north. We are going to try a different route to the Jade Lake. Fingers crossed!!


Flying back into Addis

Heading south again

Local homes we pass

More local carriers

Passing lovely scenery

Collecting the banana crops

The Konso area is covered in terraces

Heading up the mountain.... where is the good road!

Amazing local villages

Clothes market

Bath time and water collection time

Oh dear...

More clothes for sale

Women work hard here

It's a lovely drive out to Jinka

Every day the biggest chore is collecting water

He went to sleep at the wheel. And very glad to see us

In fact he's totally wrapt!!

Local road block. They wanted bananas

Off to market

When the rains come the fields need ploughing

Heading to see the Murci people

Our lip lady

Leaving the village these guys pop out

Visiting the Ari village. Great bellows for blacksmithing

The girls did my hair! Don't think it's my look. The black facial marks are from the Mursi people 

Cooking injera

Another road block. We had the bananas ready this time

Sneaky photo of the local hair dressing salon

For sale at the market....for local use

Skirts! I don't want one

Necklace for the first wife (I don't want one John)

All heading to the market as we head out of town

Not sure what the gun is for....but chase those cattle off the road please

Heading south again

Squatter towns nearer the border. We were told they were from South Sudan

And back again in the desert in Kenya

Some of the locals

Oh the rain has started again....the desert is green

How many times have we crossed the Equator

A glimpse of Mt Kenya

We stop to get our firewood bag repaired

And back in Nairobi again