Sunday, April 7, 2024



Finally, our paperwork is ready, so we race to the Embassy, and amazingly they say to return tomorrow to collect this last piece of paperwork. In the morning, we head back to the Embassy. Not quite ready so we go back to the truck for coffee, and before we are even finished, we get the call to pick it up. YAY. Happy dance time!

On our way out of the city John has 2 errands he wants to run. 1/ Stop at the car accessory area to get a fan. Well!! It is absolutely crowded with not a spot to stop. I am kind of relieved I won’t be left sitting in the truck in this dodgy area while John hunts down a fan! 2/Go back to the Lithium battery man to get our replacement part installed. Of course, the part hasn’t arrived so after a few hours we decide to do it on our return trip and we head out of the city.

Our Ethiopian visas have already started so we want to get there ASAP, so for the next few days we drive and drive and drive. It is a relief to be out of the crazy traffic in Nairobi. We end up at Naru Moro River Lodge where we stayed at last year. Only this time there are magnificent views of Mt Kenya and we enjoy swimming in their now heated pool. In the morning, we head off bright and early for the long hot drive through Marasbit and across the huge Chalbi desert to Moyale. At 5pm we start looking for a campspot. The first place is closed for Ramadan, the second wants to charge more than the price of a room and thank goodness the third place inside the Church grounds right near the border will take us. It is surprisingly quiet in the centre of town.

We head to the border at 7.30am, hoping for a quick crossing, only to discover that the staff arrive 8.30ish, which turns to 9. Then they hunt for the paperwork and we wait and wait and wait. They come up with a few different stories as to the delay. Finally at 12 they say they are off to lunch and will be back at 2pm. By 2.30 they start the process and finally at 4.30pm we are free to enter Ethiopia. Only now it is much too late to reach our planned campspot, so we hunt down the local Hotel in Moyale. The nicer front carpark is full, so the manager directs us to the grotty back carpark, which is merely a dirty sloping driveway inside the staff area. And of course he wants megabucks! The funny thing is that the only cash we have (which we obtained from a lady in Nairobi) is the old currency which no one will take, and the ATM won’t spit out any cash for us, so we pay for dinner in Kenyan money and when John goes to pay for parking in the morning (planning to use Kenyan money) there is another guy on duty, and he says parking is free. Of course we hightail it out of there!

Once we get through the crazy tuktuk traffic there is virtually no vehicles at all, only donkeys, camels and goats. We pass countless poor villages full of round thatched huts. Everywhere there are crops growing and some of the men are out ploughing with oxen. And amazingly the road is pretty good!

 Muller (our contact in Addis who has arranged our entry paperwork) has advised us to turn off the main road and take a “safer” route north, which sadly is not so good. It is potholed, has sections of gravel and of course numerous nasty speedbumps through every village. As we get closer to the lake area, we see miles of bananas growing. It is harvesting time and trucks are being loaded. After a long day we hunt down the Arba Minch Eco Resort & Camping for the night. A fancy name for a camp spot, but it has lovely views over Lake Chama and is safe and secure.

In the morning, we head through the town of Arba Minch and spy a huge crowd of white robed people around a gorgeous Cathedral. We stop and watch as they prepare for Palm Sunday and queue up for a blessing from the Priest. We can’t go in as we are both wearing shorts (a very big No No).  Just past the town we turn onto a gravel track that zigzags 27km up the side of the mountain to the town of Dorze.  The views are spectacular. At the town we stop for a cultural tour. We inspect the crazy “elephant” shaped woven bamboo houses, watch the local weaver plying his craft and see how bread is made from the false banana plant. The only ingredient is scraped from the husk, put in the ground for 60days to ferment, then chopped, moulded and baked over a fire. Hmm definitely not my favorite bread! We are given some of the local firewater to wash it down.

Back down on the tarseal road we skirt the edge of the massive Lake Abaya and pass through countless villages all thronging with people. When we stop for lunch, we are like a magnet and before long we are surrounded by people. Muller has told us there is a new road from Sudo to Awasa, and he is right. It is a magic drive over rolling fertile countryside dotted with villages. Again, it’s getting late so we decide to stop in Awasa for the night. The town is pumping this Sunday evening as we pull into a lakeside Hotel. And yes, they do camping near their grotty little bungalows, but it is a lovely quiet spot. The monkeys are scampering in the trees above us and of course all over our roof. One very naughty monkey watches me eating peanuts and putting the jar (with the lid on!) down beside me. He then darts behind my deck chair, grabs the jar, shimmies up the tree and sits there eating our peanuts!

All this time we have spent driving we have been watching out for good petrol stations and are a bit surprised to see so many closed or with signs up saying No Fuel. Then when they have fuel there are huge queues. We are starting to get rather low on fuel when we finally find a petrol station in Awasa. But they only take cash, so the hunt is on for ATMs that will spit out cash (and there is a limit per day – so we will need to visit lots of ATMs just to fill the truck!)

Later the next day (after a few fruitless hours at Ethion Telecom – our WhatsApp stopped and they can’t work out why) we head on to Addis. Slow going through numerous busy towns until we reach the toll motorway. No traffic, donkey carts or people. The landscape is flat with crops stretching for miles. We zoom to the huge sprawling city of Addis, home to millions of people. Our first stop is an all-important petrol station that has only a short queue. Then its straight into the chaotic rush hour traffic to locate Alex’s place where we can camp. After a roundabout tour of downtown Addis, we reach Alex’s place behind a big locked gate. Alex works in the Canadian Embassy and welcomes travellers and lets them camp in his driveway. Awesome!

The next day we set out to explore the sights of the city. First the National Museum which is rather dusty and sad, but does have a section about “Lucy” the oldest known skeleton in the world. (Apparently), and a great section about Gondar and Axim. Next the Ethnological Museum that is set in the former Palace. Here there is an excellent display showcasing crops, crafts and lifestyles. It’s a pity they don’t put on more lights! Then off to the famous St Georges Cathedral which we find surrounded by crowds of pilgrims. A service is on and there is no way we can park or even enter. Lots of roads around this area are closed and there is a big military presence, so we decide that will do for the day and return to Alex’s driveway.

Later the same day we finally meet Muller to pay him and to discuss our options for Northern Ethiopia. We are hearing from everyone that it is not safe to drive north. So, we chat about it with Muller while enjoying the local cuisine and dancing at an Ethnic Restaurant. We have never seen anything like those head banging movements.

The next morning, we pack a bag and later head to the airport. Our first flight is to Bandir Dar, and it is full of locals with huge bags of produce. They are not catching the local buses because of the troubles in the area. In the afternoon we head out on a boat across Lake Tana to visit a few Monasteries. We are the only tourists for days and the souvenir sellers are desperately pling their stuff, to no avail! What would we do with it all! The Monasteries are round thatched buildings that don’t look too exciting until you go inside and see all the gorgeous frescoes on the walls. It’s the Bible in pictures. Very lovely. We end our boat trip exploring the mouth of the Blue Nile where we spy a few hippos and some reed boats.

The next morning, we are driven to Gondar. We were supposed to go to the Blue Nile Falls, but there is a change of plans due to conflicts on that road a few days ago. It is slow going with lots of potholes to dodge, and lots of military checkpoints. The scenery is spectacular the whole way. We pull into Gondar by midday, so after a quick lunch we head out to Royal Enclosure to tour the impressive site. Our guide is a bit longwinded, but the Palaces do not disappoint. Each successive King had to make his own imprint by building a new palace, so there are seven here. Later we visit the Kings vacation home set over a pool. It would look great if the pool was full of water. Our final visit for the day is to the Debre Berhan Selassie, with its stone walls, thatched roof and gorgeously painted interior. The angels on the ceiling are my pick.  Phew it has been a big day.  

The next day is an early start as we head out at 7am in a 4x4 to visit the Simien Mountains National Park. Originally, we were to stay overnight, but an early flight the next day will make that difficult, so we are doing it in one long day. Again, it’s a lovely drive through mountains to Debark, a scruffy sprawling town with a massive new University. Here we stop for our permits and pick up a guide and a guard with a loaded gun. We head to the National Park and are surprised that there are so many farms. Many people still live and farm within the park. We are going to do a few hikes while we are here. Not too long because John isn’t felling very well and the altitude is really affecting him. A couple of flatter hikes suits me too! We are very fortunate to come across a troop of Gelada monkeys. As we stand and watch more troops come and join them and before long, we are surrounded. They ignore us and busily keep eating the grass.  Wow, now I am happy!

After our long day we discover that tomorrow’s flight is cancelled so we have a free day. What will we do? We catch a tuktuk to the mayhem markets and wander around. Then head to the lovely Four Sisters restaurant for a great meal. It is better to go at lunchtime as there is an 8pm curfew in place in town. The afternoon is filled in with not a lot at all, although John does swim in their pool. Sadly, my togs are back in the truck.

At least our flight this morning is direct to Lalibela (rather than to Addis and back up to Lalibela) and its magical. We fly low and it’s really clear. We have time to check in to our hotel and have lunch before we head to the famous Lalibela Churches. This afternoon we explore 7 of them ending with the magical St George’s shaped like a cross and hewn entirely out of rock.

The next morning, we return to St George’s to see all the whited robed people listening to the priest. They are celebrating St George’s Day, and it’s an awesome site. Interestingly there used to be 40,000 tourists a year, and now there are only 2,000. Then we explore the rest of the Churches, going through crazy tunnels and along bumpy, slippery surfaces. It’s an accident waiting to happen and I oblige as we are leaving, annoyingly twisting my wrist as I try to break the fall. What a nuisance. Anyway, it is time to head to the airport for our flight to Addis.

We will be so glad to be back in GR2.


  1. What an adventurous time you are having! Makes for good reading from the comfort of my armchair.
    Blessings to you both from Neil and Alison 🙏🏻❤️

  2. Great story Lynda. Thankyou

  3. Hope your wrist is okay! So hilarious about the bread, can imagine John 😂😂 quietly, “this is not very good bread”

  4. Awesome travel blog, sounds like lots of challenges and adventure. Cannot wait to see the pics. Hope John's feeling better and your wrist is on the kind, lucky you didn't break it.Travel safe Hugs from L n C xxx

  5. Warwick and agathaApril 8, 2024 at 1:08 PM

    Just love your travel through ethiopa and description. I have read about the stone churches in the ground and always wanted to go there. Enjoy - warwick and Agatha

  6. Hii, just saw you pass by in Nairobi city center the traffic is crazy anyways... safe travels VB