Flying to Ethiopia today

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

  1. Anzac

    Anzac Adventurer

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    This is an epic journey through a country steeped in history. Ethipoia is famous for the Queen of Sheba and their coffee which is the best in the world. Make sure you learn the coffee ceremony. Our family friends are from Ethipoia and are some of the most genuine, nicest people you will meet. Take care with those bugs are they get everywhere and are hard to shake. Nuke them from space - it’s the only way lol.
    Sideoff and easyrider11 like this.
  2. AirDrive

    AirDrive Terminal No0b

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    Did you see the church where the Holy Grail is claimed to be?
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  3. Anzac

    Anzac Adventurer

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    Yes, they are supposed to have the actual Ark of the Covenant at that church which is in Aksum. To this day no one really knows the actual location but if you find it don’t touch it. Think of Raiders of the lost Ark and tread carefully.
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  4. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    I'm really enjoying this. Thanks.
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  5. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Hey guys, we got the same bug Thing in Ethiopia many years ago and couldn´t get rid of it. We then stripped in a hotel room and put the strong mosi Repellent on our whole bodies. We stood there for About an hour and then took a shower. We put our sleeping bags in the sun for some time and washed all our chlothing. Never got a bite again. Maybe we were just lucky, but it is something you coud try.
    Have fun and stay safe.
    By the way the fuel Situation was similar 20 years ago. We often had to get a Permit at some Office first to be allowed to buy gas.
    Cheers Thomas
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  6. BornAgain

    BornAgain Been here awhile

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    More like remember Uzzah, 2 Samuel 6:7. Raiders of the lost Ark was my favorite of those Harrison Ford movie series. :-)
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  7. SpiritAtBay

    SpiritAtBay Been here awhile

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    Yall's report is riveting! Found it last night and stayed up til 2am reading it. Re-read it this morning and gained even more appreciation for the images, insights and yall's responses to ---a very different world.

    Thanks so much for making the time and putting energy into reporting your experiences.

    Loving it!
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  8. easyrider11

    easyrider11 Adventurer

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    Somehow missed these questions @liv2day , sorry!

    We do carry JB Quick (JB Weld w/15 min cure time), it’s a must have in both of our tool kits. SO happy no real damage was done with that chain pop off, feelin’ lucky with that one.

    As far as being harassed, no.. not too badly. Once you smile enough and act like clueless tourists who (honestly) just missed it - they sorta let you off without too much of a squabble. Although, I will say I was a bit irritated we couldn’t just take care of the whole ordeal roadside. Since we missed the original checkpoint and they had to chase us down, everyone was in a tizzy and they demanded we follow them about 6k back to the police station. I may or may not have thrown them a few big eye rolls over that inconvenience, but all in all not too bad of a shakedown.

    I do think they’re looking through things to make sure we’re not carrying the items you mentioned, but also just out of curiosity and confusion. It’s very strange here to travel on a motorcycle with anything other than a water jug - so when they see our bikes with all the bags and shit strapped to them, and throw in a language barrier, they’re kinda like, wtf? What is all this stuff? Once they pull out some boring articles of clothing and other miscellaneous items the curiosity is quenched and they usually stop there.

    Twas’ pretty funny the other day though when about 5 army guys at a checkpoint were combing through Pete’s things, stumbled on his kindle reader and proceeded to flip through the pages of his book while standing together and reading what they could of it aloud. I was dying laughing - we finally said “Ok, come on! You’re just reading. Can we go?!” Their response was laughter and an affirming “ishee” (yes).
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  9. easyrider11

    easyrider11 Adventurer

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    Ok @scrubb I’ve got photos uploaded and I’m ready to rock out a post tomorrow morning. You’ve inspired me. Thank you mucho mucho. Or as I’d say in Amharic - “amiseginaleu”.



    We had an EPIC day today off the bikes, hiking in the sun for ~6hrs with big elevation gains, so I’m pretty exhausted - we both are! Pete has been passed out next to me for the last hour and a half, sleepin’ like a champ!

    I have been sifting, editing, and uploading pics for about 3 hours now. So fun, I can’t believe this trip. It is absolutely blowing my mind. I had built Ethiopia up A LOT before coming on this trip, so I was a bit nervous of being underwhelmed.
    Nope, not the case. My expectations have been far surpassed.

    To be continued. Time to get some shut eye.

    And damn... my carpel tunnel is acting up right now on my R hand. Gotta do some stretches tomorrow and get some deep tissue work done when I get home - I think the vibration from these little bikes is agitating it. Anywho... brb, time to get some shut eye.
    jowul, Shaggie, snglfin and 10 others like this.
  10. easyrider11

    easyrider11 Adventurer

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    Wowzers! I’m speechless.

    Thanks for reading (and re-reading) our ramblings.

    I’ll be back in the morning with an update. Stay tuned.
    OR_Rider, jays100, scrubb and 3 others like this.
  11. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    OK, this ride report really does belongs in "epic" rides!

    Thanks for taking the time to post your pics and words and I wish you both adventure within reason and safe travel for the rest of your trip.
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  12. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Oddly people do not seem to get mad. I keep expecting that to happen but it doesn’t. Down south where it seemed like nearly everyone was chewing Khat, tempers flared up at the pump a lot more often, but always toward other people in line or toward the gas attendant, and never toward us. In fact the people closest to the pump were sometimes the most helpful in terms of clearing a path and making sure the nozzle made it to our tanks next. I can only explain that as a genuinely friendly gesture toward visitors.
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  13. easyrider11

    easyrider11 Adventurer

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    Look who’s awake at 0600 this morning! Whoop!

    Sitting up in bed listening to the crickets chirp away while I sip a cup of instant coffee (thx babe!) here in beautiful Hawzien, Ethiopia. Hawzien is at the very North of the country, and now we will begin making our way South.

    I’m really trying not to spend the last week of the trip mourning the fact that it’s almost over - aiming to be present and enjoy every last drop. So far it’s working. The last leg of this trip is proving to take on a life of its own.

    I’m stoked to be getting an early start this morning - we’ve got about 375 km ahead of us today in aims of reaching Lalibela by days end.

    Ok, now let’s put it in reverse so I can catch you up with our happenings through my lens (literally and figuratively).

    Let’s check it... this is a frequently used quip here in Ethiopia. It can mean “let’s grab coffee” - “let’s investigate” - “I don’t know, let me ask”. It makes me chuckle a little bit every time someone uses it, I’m like “f yea, let’s check it!” I love the spirit of this phrase, so much so I’ve decided to get it tattooed in Amharic when we return to Addis at the end of the trip.

    This pic is just a rough sketch I did at a restaurant. I can’t wait for the real thing. I think beyond being a trip memento, the essence of staying curious is important in life - it keeps us young and always learning, growing, reaching for more.

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    Gondar - this is the first destination in the north where things really began to get intensely interesting again. Gondar is the largest of the three former capitals and our first stop on the historical circuit. Mid-evil, fairytale castles and venerable churches are all the rage - we couldn’t wait to see these sites for ourselves.

    The awesome place we stayed (Mayleko Lodge - highly recommend!) in Gondar sent us with their driver on our condensed historical tour - we rode, and he drove. It was such a relief to leave the bikes right outside with all of our gear strapped on without any concerns while he kept an eye on things. All for the price of a small tip, about $3.50 USD.

    Of course, coffee was a necessity inside the entrance walls. I don’t know how I’ll ever go back to one or two cups a day.

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    Thats where I spotted this cute little fella who was napping while simultaneously holding up his own shade. Can we say CUTE?

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    First stop was Fasil Ghebbi - a walled compound enclosing 6 or so 17th-century castles and palaces.

    Entrance fee was 200 birr - ~ $7 USD

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    As you can see, Pete was pretty jazzed about the whole complex. Hard not to be impressed at the scale and majesty of it all.

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    We did not take a guide at all during our condensed tour, just wandered around a bit on our own. That was the perfect approach for us.

    Next stop was the church of Debre Berhan Selassie, adorned by its intricate and acclaimed paintings. I’d never seen anything quite like it - I hardly took any photos inside, as I was so awe struck.

    Here it is from the outside.

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    And even more impressive once you’re inside.

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    Women have to use a separate entrance/exit, and you’re greeted by many painted faces upon entering. Ceiling and all.

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    I wish I could say we hit the road directly after this, but we faced many delays due to my bike having some serious issues with the rear wheel.

    **current update** Unfortunately, this has not been successfully repaired, and although it looks sketchy af, the bike is still rideable so I’m continuing the trip as is. Questionable? Yes. But seems like the right decision given our limited time and options. **current update**

    What came after we finally started rolling, was one of the most breathtaking days of riding I’ve personally ever experienced. Winding around the Simien mountains and down into it’s valleys as we made our way farther North towards Axum.

    Unfortunately, I was sick as a dog. The beginnings of what would be an upper respiratory infection, that thankfully I’m now recovering from.

    Ooof, breathing sick, hot breath in my helmet all day in 95+ degree weather was not my favorite - but I managed with minimal whining (:

    Here is a pic of an awesomely huge twisted tree I spotted along the road.

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    Pete was eating up the scenery and well kept road - hard not to drool a bit over a day like this one. I have video that captures it well, but didn’t pull out the camera too much since I was so sick.

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    Some of you may notice the Upshift Online sticker on my bike - if you’re digging this rr, keep an eye out in an upcoming issue for our story on the trip. Probably around April or so.

    We made it to Axum. And I spotted this bold little guy on the road coming into town.

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    Ethiopia has the 2nd largest donkey population in the world, and since he got up in time for the truck to swiftly pass by- the population is still running strong with this youngin in the mix.

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    I had to lay down in the silt to get these shots, right in the middle of the road with him!

    #worthit - they are so damn cute those little donkeys. Am I right?

    The two highly recommended hotels in Axum were completely booked, but I was a ok with that since it meant we’d be staying up on a hillside away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.

    The Yeha hotel is an old, previously government run hotel situated on the north end of Axum overlooking two of the main historical sites - both Stelae park and the Cathedral of Maryam Tsion, containing the Ark of the Covenant.

    I spent the better part of our rest day in Axum completely laid up. I have asthma so when I get a URI or something of similar flavor, there are a plethora of downstream impacts - I was grateful to have a comfortable, quiet place to rest. By afternoon, I was feeling well enough to join in on running some errands and poke around at a few of the sites to be seen.

    First stop, tire change. Oh, and we got some cheap-o sunnies roadside. Mine say Ray Don, ha!!

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    Our chores took longer than expected, but that made for some nice sundown pics at one of the archaeological sites about 2km outside of town.

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    These are some of the few still erect Stelae in the Gudit Stelae Field.

    Axum is arguably the oldest continuously inhabited city in sub-Saharan Africa, it is littered with striking relics that have stood the test of time. Literally! The skyscraping Stelae are really something to marvel.

    How the hell did they transport and erect these monstrosities? Elephants? Some ancient pulley system?

    Just across the road is Dongar Palace - or, the Queen of Sheba’s palace. There is lots of folklore in Ethiopia surrounding the Queen of Sheba, factual... maybe? Fanciful, oh yes.

    This palace has 50+ rooms, it’s suggested that this might be the single most impressive palace ever constructed in Axum.

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    Subterranean catacombs were up next. Kaleb and Gebre Meskel’s Tombs - the names of a 6th century emperor and his son, also his successor. This site was excavated in 1898, and at the time it was completely buried with farmland atop.

    It is incomprehensible to me that the city is only 5% excavated, I can’t wait to see what will be uncovered in years to come.

    Pete and I gave a couple of local kids a ride to the top of the hill, where they presumably were bragging to their friends who gathered around our bikes upon arriving.

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    It was about sundown, so the site was technically closed. Lucky us, that meant a private tour.

    And down we went.

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    As I swept my fingertips along the wall while stair stepping upwards, I couldn’t help but think of all those before me who touched the very same walls.

    SO.COOL. !!!

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    Hard to miss the Queen of Sheba’s pool (May Shum) on the way back to our hotel - it is completely rock hewn, and in original condition. The water is regarded as holy water, and baptisms are held in the pool during Timkat.

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    On the regular, locals come and collect water from the pool. Quite the watering hole.

    The next morning was sort of a comedy of errors. Our friend Fitsum arranged a camel in front of the Stelae park? Awkward.

    In his defense I did ask for a camel, but I was thinking more a camel in its natural habitat... not embarrassingly staged in front of the city center. Anyway, rolled with it and endured the awkwardness.

    And queue more donkeys, this time gathered for the Saturday market. Lots of activity in Axum on a Saturday morning.

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    We said our goodbyes to Fitsum, thanking him for all of his help and we were on our way.

    The beginning of what would be (so far anyway!) my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE DAY OF RIDING.

    I took the reins and handled navigation from Axum to Hawzien, that was pretty rad too. Nice to trade off on responsibilities every now and again.

    Pete and I make a great team, I love that guy so flipping much.

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    Weeeeeeeee!! Look Ma! No hands. **zooms in on pic**

    To Hawzien we rode, the most magical place of them all.



    Be back tonight with another update. I’ve run out of time. I’ve been frantically tapping away with my little thumbs in a total frenzy, ha! I love rr’s this is definitely going to be a new thing for me.

    We are saddling up now, leaving Hawzien for the big 375 km ride - wish us luck!

    If we don’t make our destination, Lalibela, we won’t have time to visit it at all. Fingers crossed.

    First, must find benzene (Ethiopian slang for regular gas).

    Let the games begin!
  14. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    This is Ash, working on an advrider post right now, long after we finished breakfast, with me (standing) like ‘babe we gotta go!’ Haha

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  15. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    I’m very happy she has her priorities right! :clap It made my breakfast just now :-)
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  16. SpiritAtBay

    SpiritAtBay Been here awhile

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    Cute. Thanks Ashley!
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  17. Yaddio

    Yaddio Adventurer

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    I'm really enjoying your RR. It's inspiring and has me anxious to get going on an epic ride.
    Sideoff likes this.
  18. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    Thanks for the work you're both putting into the report. Great trip to a place not many of us will ever be able to get to.

    Your pictures of the paintings inside the church are extra interesting to me. They remind me of some I saw in Cyprus last fall. Some from a similar time period even. There were even some references to some work of an artist from Ethiopia at one of the churches, ten of which are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The differences in the painting styles is very engrossing to me.
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    Thanks again!
  19. Spicciani2

    Spicciani2 Been here awhile

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    Wow this is great! Glad my quick detour to check out the moskoMoto bags led me here.
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  20. liv2day

    liv2day Life is all about how you handle plan B Supporter

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    Excellent updates @Sideoff & @easyrider11 :thumb

    The historical sites you've visited are incredible, especially being able to get down into the catacombs and look around. I can't imagine walking through history dating back to the 6th century, truly something else. The more recent (lol) churches and castles were really neat too - the detail and structures - wow.

    Hope the rear wheel doesn't cause further delays and it holds together until you're done traveling on it (or you're able to find someone to fix when there aren't protests).

    Continued safe travels :nod :ricky
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