Flying to Ethiopia today

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Sideoff, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    My girlfriend Ashley (@easyrider11) and I have wanted to visit Ethiopia for a while. It kept getting put off because we were having a hard time finding bikes, and also we don’t know anyone there who could help.

    We met our new buddy Chad two weeks ago - he’s a friend of a friend in Portland - who’s from Ethiopia and has family there. We bought a couple tickets to Addis Ababa with airline miles, and now we’re sitting in the Portland airport waiting for a flight. How bout that?

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    Chad’s brother found us two of these 200cc ‘BMP’ brand bikes for our trip. They were $3,400 each including VAT, registration and everything else we need to ride them. I’m not sure how much of that was the bike cost versus the other stuff but I think the bikes were around $2,900. He’s going to help us sell them at the end so we should get a good chunk of that back.

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    BMP is an Indian company, but I think the bikes must be coming from China. The engine cover looks exactly like the engine cover on the CSC 250 dual sport.

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    I think the must come from the same Zongshen factory in China. Which would be great, since that’s one of the better known factories. I’m guessing that BMP buys the parts from China and assembles them inside Ethiopia. We tried unsuccessfully to find a couple Lifan 250 dual sports there but with no luck.

    The rest of the BMP product line sure looks like Zongshen, especially the police bike.

    http://www.bmpmotor.in

    It takes a little while to get a bike registered in Ethiopia so we sent the $$ over beforehand. We’re buying the bikes in his name. I think there might be some issue with foreigners buying bikes in their own name but I’m not 100% on that. Anyway, it’s easier for him to buy and sell the bikes if we put them in his name so that’s what we’re doing.

    Got our shots a couple days ago.

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    This is Chad. He has an auto salvage and recycling business in Portland. Chad totally hooked us up.

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    He looked at some maps with us and pointed out a few places to visit.

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    Packed up and ready to go. We’re taking camping gear just in case.

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    We don’t know a lot about Ethiopia. If anyone has ideas of where to go and what to do, we’re all ears. We have 4 weeks to travel. I’ll get a local SIM card and keep this RR updated as we go.
    #1
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  2. liv2day

    liv2day Is Anyone Here a Marine Biologist! Supporter

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    Definitely in for this one :thumb :thumb

    Safe travels and I'm looking forward to hearing how the ride goes. Ethiopia is a big damn country, imagine you'll find incredible riding along the Rift Valley and there are quite a few national parks.

    Keep the knobby side down @Sideoff :D :D
    #2
  3. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    safe travels and have fun

    :ricky
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  4. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    This has loads of potential:lurk

    Watch out for rock throwing kids, from reading other reports iirc the two Australians on dr650 had some trouble with em.

    Looking forward to the story.
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  5. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    Ethiopian food is amazing. Have a great trip!!
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  6. Little Bike

    Little Bike Air/Clutz Sue Supporter

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    In!
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  7. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

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    Have a safe trip and make sure you try the coffee. Ethiopian coffee is considered to be some of the best coffee in the world :thumb
    #7
  8. eSTes1300

    eSTes1300 Adventurer

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    #8
  9. eSTes1300

    eSTes1300 Adventurer

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    I rode all over Ethiopia, in another life time, on a Kawasaki 350 single. Visit the rock churches in the north. Gondar, Axum are a must. Harar and DIra Dawn are great places to linger. The lakes in the Rift Valley are fun for camping. I rode to Kenya, via Moyali, went into Sudan, Djibouti, just everywhere. Be careful on the roads, people and livestock are all over and unpredictable. Food is the best, hotels are plentiful and cheap. Awash game reserve is a treasure. Be alert, day and night.
    #9
  10. nochwas

    nochwas Adventurer

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    spent about a month in Eritrea and Ethiopia a couple decades ago, but without wheels-- just public transport, feet, and riding on top of trucks with friendly drivers : ) Incredible country and great people. Some kids in the boondocks could be pretty aggressive (throwing small stones, yelling "faranj" at you, etc) but the vast majority were kind and curious. The rock churches that eSTes1300 mentions are at "Lalibela", that is a mesmerising and mysterious place-- instead of carving stone pieces and stacking up into a typical church building, at Lalibela there are entire churches carved down into the stony earth. Don't miss the Simien Mountains area-- rugged alpine landscapes, over 4000 meters elevation... Good on you for heading to that part of the world and will be interested to follow along your journey.
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  11. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Awesome! Thanks for the advice. Gondar, Axum, Harar, DireDawa, Lalibela, Simien Mtns. All now located and encircled on our map.

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    We landed in Addis last night around 10pm after a little over 24 hours or airplanes/airports via PDX>SFO>Frankfurt>Addis. It's 11 hours from SFO to Frankfurt, and another 7 hours to Addis. We were pretty haggard but stoked to be here.

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    Found a hotel near the airport for $50 called Lobelia. Which has the world's smallest elevator.

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    Rooms are pretty sweet tho. Woke up way too early with the time difference and all.

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    We gotta get back on a plane this afternoon at 2pm to fly down to Hawassa where Chad's family is from and where we'll be licensing the bikes. So we won't have much time to explore Addis unless we come through again on the bikes later. Probably go walk around for a bit this morning (its 7:30 am here) then we'll have to head back to the airport.

    I'm guessing it'll take a day or two to deal with the bike paperwork and stuff.
    #11
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  12. liv2day

    liv2day Is Anyone Here a Marine Biologist! Supporter

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    So effin' cool, feet on the ground and making your way to get the bikes. Hope the flight to the Hawassa is a trouble-free as all the other flights you took to get there, and getting the bikes sorted with paperwork, etc, doesn't involve a bunch of back-and-forth running around.

    Looking forward to 'seeing' the country from your perspective. I'd have to go search, but I really enjoyed the report you did on riding in another African country where you bought bikes and rode with another guy. That report pretty much got me hooked on your gear.

    Continued safe travels and can't wait to see some pics and read stories :nod :nod
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  13. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Hey, good memory!

    That was in West Africa: Ghana, Togo, Cote D’Ivoire. Three years ago. Same idea: fly-in, find bikes when we land. It was so much fun.
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  14. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    The flight to Hawassa was uneventful. Except that we got an aerial view of how dramatic the landscape is here. Tons of lakes and craters and mountains.

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    At the airport we met up with Chad’s brothers Babé & Fitsum. They got us setup with a sweet $34/night room on the lake, and took us out to an epic traditional dinner. No silver, just hands. I asked Babé ‘do you ever use forks?’ He said (looking at hands): ‘god gave us two natural forks right here’ :)

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    Yesterday we hung out in Hawassa with Fitsum, got local SIM cards and currency, and checked out the town. Babé drove all the way up to Addis to get one of the bikes (5hrs each way). The other bike is here in Hawassa.

    These guys are helping us out a ton. It’s really cool. So glad we made this connection (via Facebook no less!) before arriving. If - as per the original plan - we had simply landed in Addis with no contacts or info, we certainly would have found bikes. But probably 125cc Bajaj Boxers, not 200cc dualsports.

    From what I can tell so far there are a big range of Indian and Chinese bikes available here in the 125-180cc class. They seem to cost 50%-100% more than in other countries I’ve visited thanks to extremely high import duties. For the BMP Zongshen bikes we’re getting, I would normally expect to pay maybe $1,500. Here in Ethiopia they are $2,800. Smaller bikes can be easily found here for $1,500-$2,500.

    If you were planning to come here without knowing anyone - like we were, up till a few weeks ago - you would have absolutely no problem finding an economical bike for your travels. Actually, this town (Hawassa) would be a great spot to launch from, as an alternative to the more-hectic Addis. Cruising around town yesterday we saw lots of bike dealerships and there are a lot more bikes on the road here than there were in Addis. I’m just recording this here for anyone who might find this RR in the future while researching info for a similar trip. There’s very little information online about how to buy a motorcycle in Ethiopia.

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    Check out this minimalist aftermarket gas tank.

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    Fitsum took us to his parents’ house for coffee. They start with raw coffee beans, roast them over coal, grind them with a mortar & pestle, then add them to boiling water and serve. It’s a delicious flavor. There’s a ceremonial feel to the entire process, with incense burning etc.

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    Fitsum’s mom started making the coffee, but Ash was so curious, that they traded spots and Ash got an Ethiopian coffee-making lesson. First step: wear the right clothing.

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    We exchanged $$ for Birr, because I think once we head out into the countryside, ATM’s might be few & far between.

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    We were playing with the monkeys down by the lake yesterday and I noticed a bunch of black obsidian chips in the dirt, mixed in with the usual assortment of bottle caps, cig butts, and other miscellaneous modern refuse. At home in the US, when we find those chips - remnants of ancient tool and weapon making processes - it’s a sign that we’re probably on top of a very old campsite. Here, Fitsum pointed out that many of those same ancient tools (like obsidian cutting blades or a mortar & pestle) are still in everyday use. Who knows whether an obsidian chip was discarded 10,000 years ago, or just last week.

    It’s 7am here, and we’re headed to the dealership to pickup the bikes in a few hours. I’m still all screwy with the time difference, and have been wide awake drinking coffee since 4.
    #14
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  15. AirDrive

    AirDrive Terminal No0b

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    In at the start of this one. It's gonna be great seeing images of Ethiopia other than pictures of staving cattle and children. I know there is a lot more to the country than what our news media shows us.
    I probably missed it, but how many miles do you estimate you'll travel on your bikes?
    #15
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  16. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    I’m a coffee addict, and know a few ways to brew a cup. But I have never seen the traditional Ethiopian way. How cool to get a hands on work shop!

    The “throttle to the donkey” picture gave me a smile :-)

    Just as @liv2day, I remember your west Africa report and really liked it. So high expectations for this RR! :clap
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  17. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Awesome as usual!
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  18. black 8

    black 8 coddiwompling motographer

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    :lurk
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  19. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Great stuff!
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  20. liv2day

    liv2day Is Anyone Here a Marine Biologist! Supporter

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    Fantastic update and you're not even riding yet...lol. The picture of the donkey powered cart being given the berries is sweet, and can you imagine riding with fuel-filled water bottle as your gas tank :eek7:eek7. Not sure I'd have faith in the cap/fuel line not leaking fuel onto a nice, hot motor :lol3 :lol3

    Super cool that you met your buddy's parents and got that coffee experience - the coffee sounds incredible.

    Looking forward to the next update :thumb :nod
    #20
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