21st October 2015 –
Ethiopia has exceeded our expectations. The country is stunning, the people are very friendly and the riding is the best so far. Everyday seems to just get better with magnificent mountain passes, great twisties and terrific views. If it weren’t the endless stream of people walking along the road, it would be a biker’s paradise
A few days ago we walked in the footsteps of “Indiana Jones” as we searched for the lost Ark in the city of Axum. It is said that the Ark of the Covenant, containing the tablets of the Ten Commandments, is enshrined at the chapel in the city. As expected, we didn’t actually get to see it, but as legend has it, those who do see it, don’t survive very long. So probably just as well.
The next few days we rode through the countryside, absorbing the simple hospitality of the Ethiopian people. No matter where we stop, even on seemingly deserted roadsides, people swarm around to greet us with a friendliness that is lost in other parts of the world.
Visiting the ancient city of Lalibela was an absolute highlight. Riding into the town, we had no idea of the splendours that were literally hidden beneath the surface. At first, it seemed like just another poor, dusty, rural town. But it’s what underneath that surprises!
The city is home to one of the world’s most astounding sacred sites. 11 rock-hewn churches, each one carved, using just chisels and hammers, entirely out of single blocks of granite and descending down to 40 feet below ground level. During construction, it is said that at night Angels would pick up where the workers left off.
We were lucky enough to arrive on market day where thousands of local traders sell everything from grains, fruit and vegetable,s to donkeys, cattle and camels. One of the guys almost walked away with a bargain donkey!
The past few days we have been riding South, towards Addis Ababa where some local kids think it’s good sport to throw rocks and shoot bow and arrows at the bikes riding past. Jack, the tour leader was hit with a rock that smashed his mirror and bounced into his shoulder. It’s a shame, as it doesn’t reflect the rest of the country or people. Hopefully, their parents will teach them a lesson one day.
It’s said that for every positive, there’s always a negative. And Addis Ababa is that negative. It’s a big ugly city with horrible traffic, congestion and pollution. It’s just such a contrast to the awesome beauty of the rest of the country. Well at least we can do a bit of bike maintenance do some shopping for the camping ahead.
From here we start our ride towards Kenya. We are so looking forward to the amazing Kenyan plains and of course the awesome wildlife we will soon encounter.
Learn more about this expedition here at – http://www.compassexpeditions.com/tour/major-expeditions/cairo-to-capetown/by