Ethiopia – Crossing the border from Sudan to Ethiopia took quite some time, but was relatively painless which was surprising given the ramshackle conditions of the border facilities in both countries.
I think we were all a little bit sad to be leaving the hospitality of the Sudanese, but excited to be in a new country and another step closer to achieving our goal. It is amazing on entering Ethiopia after the flat hot stretches in Sudan; we started climbing into the hills straight away and climbed and climbed. The one thing for sure is that the extras on the roads in Ethiopia were going to be a challenge, which included cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, carts and seemingly half the population which seems to be on the road throughout any given day.
After our first night in Gonder we rode up to the Simien mountains national park, where we stayed at the highest lodge in Africa at over 3000 metres and some of the group were lucky enough to walk amongst the Gelada Baboons in this breathtaking mountain range. Well it literally is a breathtaking mountain range with many in the group claiming that walking from the car park up to the rooms was the hardest work they had done in some time.
Leaving the Simien Mountains we did what I believe may be some of the best twisties in the world for the next 3 days, through Axum, Mekele and Woldiya. What a trip, I have never seen so many winding roads, but you have to be hyper alert as there were lots of challenges on the road. On our free day in Lalibela we visited the famous churches that have been hewn out of granite, starting from the top and working down. This village of churches was created as a second Jerusalem. And what a spectacular creation it is.
From Lalibela we headed across the wild dirt roads back to the main highway and wound our way to Bahir Dar, home to Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile. From there we made our way to Addis Ababa via the spectacular Blue Nile canyon. Addis Ababa is a large, busy city with a lot happening on the roads. It was nice to have a day off, to do some repairs, and visit the National museum to see the fossilised remains of Lucy and to get some rest time off the bikes. The staff at the Jupiter hotel were so happy to have the motorcycles staying that they allowed us to park in the front sitting area of the hotel so they took pride of place for people visiting the hotel to admire them.
Leaving Addis Ababa we ventured south, with a tough days riding on busy roads with lots of road works, the evening spent at the Aregash lodge made it all worth it with traditional coffee on arrival, watching the hyenas near the camp and a great evening meal had the group revitalised and ready to charge on towards Yabello down near the border, this day everything changed, all of a sudden the amount of people dropped off to a few herders and the landscape became open and dry, our night at the remote lodge felt like we were back in the remote African wilderness.