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Posts from the ‘Ethiopia’ Category

Border Crossing in Moyale and camping at the Police Station

Currently I have only limited access to the internet. The blog entry of this day will be published in a few days.


Visit of the Sthamai Tribe and Drive to Konso

Currently I have only limited access to the internet. The blog entry of this day will be published in a few days.

Khat chewing Experiment and Bull-jumping Ceremony in the Omo Valley

Currently I have only limited access to the internet. The blog entry of this day will be published in a few days.

Truck got stuck and Visit of the Nyangatom Tribe in the Omo Valley

Currently I have only limited access to the internet. The blog entry of this day will be published in a few days.

Visit of the Hamer / Bana Tribe in the Omo Valley

Currently I have only limited access to the internet. The blog entry of this day will be published in a few days.

Sick in Arba Minch

Currently I have only limited access to the internet. The blog entry of this day will be published in a few days.

Slow Drive on bad Roads to Arba Minch

Currently I have only limited access to the internet. The blog entry of this day will be published in a few days.

Another strange Bet and Visit of the Awassa Children’s Project

We had planned to leave at 9am but our local guide, who accompanies us during our entire stay in Southern Ethiopia, was delayed so that we spent 40 min waiting for him. Upon the start of the drive Daniel was compliant to the bet I made with him the night before (see blog entry of Dec 4th) meaning he was driving completely naked. Actually you can’t see that much from the back of the truck but when driving underneath some trees one could see the reflection of his body in the front window. The air flow also blew his shorts out of the window and Tom needed to jump out of the cab to get them for him. This clearly contributed to everybody’s entertainment. I sat at the very back of the truck and didn’t watch the show too closely since I thought I will have enough time for this until Nairobi. I only asked Michelle and Liv, sitting in the seats just behind the cab, to inform me whenever Daniel becomes incompliant to the bet. Actually this happened already after 15 min when Daniel put his clothes back on.

We drove for about 45 min before we stopped in the city centre of Awassa. I went with a few others to a little café where we chilled out for 1-2 hours. Here we also received a WiFi signal from the hotel next door so that I could follow up on some emails. Afterwards we went to a little supermarket which was the first one I have seen since Khartoum. When I say supermarket I actually mean more a store which is comparable to a mom-and-pop grocery store back home.

On my way back to the truck I ran into Daniel who asked me if I already consider my bet as won and clearly I did. However, he said that in his eyes I haven’t won yet since from his understanding he needs to drive 50% of the time to Nairobi naked meaning when he is driving more than 50% of the time he can wear clothes during this time. I wasn’t sure about his interpretation of the bet and so I asked a few people who were there when I made the bet. Most of them backed me up and so I went back to Daniel to tell him that I definitely consider the bet as won. Surprisingly he agreed that I have won and shook my hand to confirm it.

After lunch we checked in at nice little pension and everybody with the exception of the two couples received their own room. This is the first time since nearly two months were I didn’t need to share a room and it felt wonderful to have a little private time.

In the afternoon we went to visit the Awassa Children’s Project which Dragoman recently started to support. We also took some money out of the kitty to make a donation in the name of everybody in our group. The Children’s Project is a registered local NGO taking care of children who have lost both parents. Some of the children are also infected with HIV. Therefore, we decided not to take any pictures during our visit since we don’t want to expose the children and their situation. One of the board members and a temporary volunteer worker from Spain showed us around. The Children’s Project does actually own a piece of land on which they have built several small houses in which the children live, receive their education and on-the-job training e.g. in wood work or computers. The Children’s Project also employees a number of locals such as teachers and women who take over the role of a mother for up to nine children meaning cooking for them, cleaning their clothes etc. I was very surprised what they created here and it clearly exceeded my expectations. I also consider it more efficient to support small private projects like this one rather than large NGOs since the money you donate goes straight into the project and is not used to finance a large administrative machinery in the background.

 In the evening some of us went to a restaurant recommended by the Lonely Planet and our local Ethiopian guide. The speciality of the restaurant was fish and chips which most of us ate. I somehow do not like dishes containing lots of fat and so I ate stir fried chicken instead which unfortunately was not as delicious as the fish and chips dish.

Hot Springs of Wondo Genet

Today’s cooking duty was on Chris and his team. He is a very passionate cook and so every time he cooks we receive a feast. When shopping for food Chris also puts in some of his own money and for today’s food shopping he has spent three times the amount we usually spent meaning two-thirds of it coming out of his own pocket. Therefore, we received scrambled eggs, prosciutto and cheese for breakfast which we otherwise cannot afford from our daily food budget of approx. 3 USD per person covering breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Since we didn’t start driving before 9am I used the time in the morning for another cold shower. On our way from the Bale Mountains to Wondo Genet we briefly stopped in Shashemene so that Chris could see the police regarding his iPhone which got stolen some days ago. Unfortunately he didn’t receive it back but the police told him that they know who the thief is and they are looking for him since he has left the city. I used the waiting time to chill out with some of my fellow travellers in a little café enjoying the warmth of the sun and freshly pressed Mango juice which only cost 10 Birr (0.60 USD) in Ethiopia.

We arrived in Wondo Genet at lunch time and prepared lunch at the ground of our hotel. There were many monkeys in the trees watching us and trying to steal parts of our food. After lunch we put up our tents and only some of us upgraded to a room for an additional payment of approx. 300 Birr (17.60 USD). Michelle and I choose not to upgrade because the campsite of the hotel was very beautiful and the temperature had risen significantly as we came down from the mountains this morning.

The camping fee of approx. 120 Birr (7.00 USD) a person was quite pricy but it included a visit of the local hot springs and breakfast as well. So we used the opportunity to go for a swim to the hot springs which were in 5 min walking distance to our hotel. The hot springs were mainly visited by local people so our white skin and especially we girls in our bikinis became an attraction. Before jumping into the water we rented a deposit box and made sure that all our clothes was locked away since we learned that things get very easily stolen in Ethiopia. Actually it was a good idea to lock really everything away since my fellow traveller Kelly put his flip-flops at the edge of the pool and they got stolen. Kelly tried to steal the flip-flops of somebody else but the owner was noticing it and stopped him. The water of the hot springs had a pleasant temperature, not too hot and not too cold. The boys of our group enjoyed themselves by jumping into the pool and doing flips, belly floppers and all kind of funny looking jumps.

In the late afternoon we killed some time with a poker tournament among ourselves. The buy-in was 20 Birr (1.20 USD) with the winner receiving the whole pot. While I played a loose aggressive style last time, I choose to play tight passive today also because I wasn’t really in the mood for playing poker. I ended up in a heads-up with Andrew and since dinner was ready he offered me to stop playing and split the pot between the two of us which I happily excepted since he was leading in chips.

Dinner was again very delicious due to the amount of effort Chris has put into it. We had mashed potatoes with fried onions and sausages. There was even a desert consisting of yoghurt and a hot fruit mix. After dinner we went for a few drinks to the hotel bar. I can’t really remember how it came but I ended up in another strange bet with Daniel. We bet that he will drive completely naked for the remaining duration of our trip (2.5 weeks to go until Nairobi) and that he has to do at least 50% of the driving so that he cannot ask Tom to drive the majority of the time. The value of the bet was 200 USD the looser needs to pay to the winner of the bet. I’m pretty confident that I will win the bet although I knew that Daniel doesn’t care to be naked in front of other people. What made me confident was the fact that some of the older people of our group, our local Ethiopian guide and the police wouldn’t appreciate seeing Daniel to drive naked and he’s putting his job at risk by doing so. Let’s see how this turns out in the end…

High Altitude and a cold Shower

There was running water this morning and so I used the opportunity to start the day with a fu**ing cold shower. Cold showers are actually not too bad. When not having showered for three or more days I don’t care anymore if the water is hot or cold. I prefer to have a cold shower rather than no shower. Most of my fellow travellers feel different and don’t shower when there is no hot water. What makes the situation worse is that due to the altitude it’s quite cold outside and it’s hard to convince yourself to have a cold shower when you are freezing anyway. My strategy for cold showers is the following: First, I only take cold showers when I’m warm as I was this morning when coming out of my winter sleeping bag. Secondly, I only step for 2-3 seconds under the shower to get wet. Then I put soap on without touching the cold water. Lastly, I step again for 5-6 seconds under the shower to wash the soap off. I also rub my skin under the cold water which helps to stay warm and to wash the soap off quickly.

After breakfast we took the truck to drive further up in the Bale Mountains. Our lodge is situated at an altitude of 3,150m and from there we drove up to approx. 4,300m which is the highest point of the Bale Mountains Sanetti Plateau. The whole drive took about 3.5 hours. At the peak todays cooking group prepared a pasta salad which was very delicious. Luckily they cooked the pasta already during breakfast which speeded up the whole process.

There was also the opportunity for a hike but only five of us went. The others stayed with the truck because they were either too cold or suffering from the high altitude. I took the opportunity since I like to move and also need as much practise for my planned Kilimanjaro hike as possible. I really enjoyed the hike since it was neither too cold when moving nor exhausting since most of the hike was downhill. I also enjoy high altitude in general since the landscape looks very different, no people living up there and the whole surrounding appears somewhat unfriendly for all kinds of life. When driving back to the lodge we were also lucky to spot an Ethiopian Wolf.

After we returned to the lodge we were chilling out at the fireplace. Two guys from Australia didn’t join the drive / hike today and went fishing instead. Unfortunately they didn’t manage to catch any fish but their guide caught some. So while todays cooking group prepared dinner they also prepared some fish and let people taste it.