Flying to Ethiopia today

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

  1. black 8

    black 8 coddiwompling motographer

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    Hey Pete and Ash,

    Simply an amazing journey! Thanks for posting...

    I don't know if it's been mentioned or not but have you given any thought to continuing your adventures on the Day Trippin' side of the house?

    I know you and the crew often go on rides to test gear while others are just "plain ole fun rides" on your Blog...

    Yes there is that fine line between ride reports and fluff that belongs on the Vendors Forum... but d@mnit some of the rides you guys go on look awesome...

    Just a thought...

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  2. IT Hunter

    IT Hunter Adventurer Supporter

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    Sorry, but WHY?
    It is forbidden, PROHIBITED, it is a sort of Taboo, none can see it, except MAYBE the highest levels of the religious hierarchy and probably covered by veils and so on, and they should permit to you to get in and admire the Secret? I think that in some other country, with other religion you could risk your life for this kind of disrespectful actions.
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  3. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Morning! (5:30 am here)

    After the camel episode wrapped up, we got on the road to Hawzen, which is only about 150k, and a particularly beautiful, mountainous ride on (mostly) nice pavement.

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    The amount of terracing on the hillsides in the Tigray region is unbelievable. It goes on and on, as far as you can see. I learned that starting in the 1990s this was implemented as a big public works project. It’s everywhere. The terraces hold water during the rainy season, which then helps the trees grow, which then the goats and cows nibble on, which then the people eat.

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    We stopped to say hi to this little guy in the side of the road, who is leading two huge camels with enormous loads of straw, so big that they’re blocking the entire road, tied to an axe over his shoulder. Pretty badass.

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    We pulled a ways off the road in wide open terrain to chill and stretch for a bit. An audience of 4 kids still appeared out of nowhere... I was like wait... where did you guys just come from???

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    Hawzen is known for its notoriously hard-to-get-to stone churches, which are literally built directly into cliff faces at the tops of mountains and ridges. Many probably started as caves, which were then further carved and shaped into larger rooms, and eventually churches.

    It’s believed that most of these were built in the 14th century - though some date back to the 6th century - but they weren’t known to the outside world until the 1960s. There are about 150 churches scattered around the area, with their contents - including impressive medieval paintings and very old documents and books - well preserved in a dry, high altitude climate and protected from the elements.

    Getting to these churches is no joke. Both athletically and also in terms of exposure and risk while scrambling around in the rocks. It definitely got our adrenaline pumping at times. We spent about six hours climbing and scrambling around to visit three churches. We were totally exhausted by the end, and a little sun and heat stroked too.

    I’m not sure how many miles we covered or how many thousands of feet in altitude, but it was a lot. We picked up a local guide to show the way, without which it would be pretty difficult to get around. For part of the trip we were also joined by the girl you just barely see in the pic below, who was sweating and scrambling up there with us for several hours, perfectly primped in a nice white sweater and sandals with her hair done, to bring one bottle of Coca Cola and one bottle of Fanta to a nun at one of the churches.

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    Ash noticed these holes in the wall, and asked what they are. Those are tombs, he said. For monks and priests who’ve worked here at the church in the past.

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    Looking inside with a light: they’re full of bones. I think they must cover the entrance with mortar and stones so it’s sealed until the bones are clean.

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    I have some more pics I’ll post once they’re uploaded. Visiting these stone churches in Tigray was a pretty exceptional experience, we were really blown away.
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  4. scrubb

    scrubb Master of Mayhem

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    Amazing, just amazing @Sideoff @easyrider11 . Thank you again for taking us along on our journey. You are letting us live vicariously thru you both, as well as educating us on the culture and history there. It really is a delight to read about your journey....and even more so as you are experiencing it. Something about real time updates that gives a report that “extra” something.

    Btw, I loved how you guys were in the middle of nowhere, the all those peeps just came out of nowhere. Maybe they have A Scotty there that beams them up? Haha

    Have a great last day!
    Saso and easyrider11 like this.
  5. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Hey an UnRally pic! Awesome!!

    Good idea on the day trips section. We love doing ride reports. For a while, all our focus was going into the main Mosko thread in the vendor forum, which has become quite a beast. When we’d go on a trip, I’d do any posting I was going to do over in that thread, but always from a ‘gear and testing’ perspective instead of about the details and fun parts of the trip itself. A real ride report is more fun, because it’s like having a journal of the trip. Plus it leaves a detailed record out there in a public space where other people can find it, like if they’re doing research for a trip of their own. We do a ton of research on advrider for trip planning. Even for this trip, we read several past RRs on Ethiopia, and exchanged PMs with the inmates who wrote them. Ive really enjoyed seeing Ash engage with the thread in her own voice as well. Love that. Thanks for following along!

    Speaking of Ash, time for me to wake her up...
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  6. chinditone

    chinditone Long timer

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    All I can say is wow wow wow. There is such a great and wonderful contrast between what is inside and outside the cave churches. Thanks for making the great effort, and for sharing these fabulous pics. Love this photo of Ash contemplating the saints, whilst the Ethiopian watchman/caretaker checks her out, with the door to the edge of the cliff on the left.

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  7. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Absolutely kick ass. The joy of life.

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  8. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    Those churches are simply amazing, so many questions about their origins and the civilization that created them...

    Looking at the photo of Ash climbing that rock face, that looks to me like a pretty risky climb. One slip of a foot, and you could easily suffer of too much gravity :fall

    Thanks to both of you for another great update!

    PS I’ll be at Utrecht tomorrow for the annual bike fair, I will say hi to Roel on behalf of you guys :beer
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  9. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

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    Thanks so much for this guys.....
    It's absolutely amazing what you are showing us.
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  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Not sure what to type...is speechless a thing when typing...lol? Truly awe inspiring photos of your day's ride/adventure. The boy with the camels, the road winding through the mountains, and the pictures from the climb & churches - incredible.

    Thanks for taking the time to post everything, looking forward to seeing the additional pics you mention :thumb :nod
    Sideoff likes this.
  11. Yaddio

    Yaddio Adventurer

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    You two have some huevos rancheros... I've been all over the world, but never anything like this. God bless your journey and thank you for the wonderful pictures and updates.
    Sideoff likes this.
  12. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Right on, say hi to Roel for sure! We were in Utrecht for that show last year!

    Man the climb up to these churches is legitimately dicey. The climb down is even more so. Sometimes it’s easier to scramble up stuff than it is to get down it, because you can’t see the hand and footholds on the way down. Even though a few people warned us beforehand, I was still like: whoa this is nuts. You slip, you die.
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  13. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Here are some more pics from the churches we visited.

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    The artwork inside is seriously out of this world. At home we get so excited when we’re out on a moto trip and we find a single petroglyph or even a remnant of a petroglyph, like a few lines. Imagine if we walked into a cave and saw something like this ha!

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    Ash noticed a stack of very old books and pointed at them and asked what they were. We don’t speak Amharic or Tigray, and the priests don’t speak English, so all we got was ‘bible.’ A very old, very delicate, handwritten and illustrated bible.

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    This is the church entrance, inside what looks like it was already an existing cave entrance coming off an exposed ledge about 2 feet wide on the cliff face, and sloping downward in the wrong direction. The entrance to the church is on the far left of the pic, you can see the edge of the stone & mortar entrance wall there.

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    We got down to the bottom of the mountain just before dark, and had to gather up our bikes, which were parked about 10 miles apart, one at the start of one trail, and the other at the bottom of another trail.

    Ash picked up a hitchhiker on the way home. Hitchhiking is common here, we pass dozens of people looking for rides every day, but we can’t often pick them up, because we have our luggage on the back.

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  14. thirsty 1

    thirsty 1 Rider Supporter

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    UNBELIEVABLE !!! :clap:clap:clap:clap
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  15. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Wow those Kibo bikes look amazing!! I have never seen that before. Or heard of it. I love it. How much do they cost?

    We have to decide today if we’re going to keep or sell the bikes. The original plan was to sell the bikes and get the cash while we can. But on the other hand we have two great running bikes here that we’ve owned since new. We’ve had zero issues with them so far on this trip, except for Ash’s screwy rim which can easily be replaced. And we have the opportunity to return here for the same amount of time in Jan/feb of next year, so only 12 months away.

    This is as close as we’re likely to be for a while to places like Eritrea (which thanks to the recent peace, is opening its land borders for the first time in 20 years), Djibouti, Sudan, and Somaliland. Plus we didn’t get to visit Afar, the Danakil Depression, or Harrar. Registering and insuring bikes in Ethiopia is difficult and these two are totally legit right now, with ownership books and contracts and insurance and all the other wacky stuff they require here, which we’ll need in order to cross borders. I mentioned to a couple people that we got these bikes licensed, registered, and insured in only 2 days (thanks to our friend’s contacts) and they laughed and said that is absolutely unheard of in Ethiopia. There’s no guarantee we could replicate that again next year. Our friends here who would store them safely and look after them while we’re gone.

    These are some of the things we’re discussing this morning. We have about $6,800 total invested in these two bikes right now, including what we spent to register & insure them. That’s a meaningful amount of money to us. I was counting on getting a good bit of that back. On the other hand, keeping the bikes and returning next year might be the best shot we’ll have at visiting the area again for a while. We both feel like there is a lot left to explore.

    I have no idea what the actual logistics of foreigners crossing land borders of these other countries with an Ethiopian registered vehicle are, especially since the vehicles are registered in an Ethiopian’s name (which is the law here) instead of our own name. So that could possibly be an issue. However we have all the accompanying contracts and paperwork that give us all the rights of ownership in the vehicles (to buy/sell etc) even though the registered owners name is someone else.

    From what I’ve found online the border situation with Eritrea is still a total mess on their side. It’s all so new that there are few processes setup, and nobody really knows what’s allowed or not. Plus special government travel permits are required to go almost anywhere. It’s not like we can just show up and wander, like we can here. Some of that could resolve over the next 12 months though. It would be very interesting to visit the ‘North Korea of Africa’ so soon after it opens up, even if it was just for a limited trip with a special permit.

    Our friends are showing up here in Addis in a couple hours (I’m a few days behind on the RR) and we’ll run this by them and see what they think.
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  16. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    That last set of photos of the church and the rock climb are really really really spectacular! What an incredible place…and having to risk life and limbs to get there must make it an extra special experience.

    I am not all a religious person but have the greatest respect for those that were inspired to literally get up there and create those churches.
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  17. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Decision may already be made, but if you want to go back, don't need the cash, and can find secure storage then I'd vote to keep the bikes.

    Great report.
    Sideoff likes this.
  18. BornAgain

    BornAgain Been here awhile

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    Acts 8:27-38 tells the story of Philip meeting an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Queen of Ethiopia. What ya'll have seen are some of the earliest known Christian Churches and yet very little is actual known about them. I would take a wild guess and say the Bible he showed you was probably written on vellum paper and written in Amharic. It most likely only contains the 4 Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Anyway enough of the history lesson. I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey ya'll have shared with us. I vote to keep the bikes it gives you a foot in the door for further adventures or an excuse (if any of us ever really needed one) or a reason or a purpose........ You get the idea :D Have fun and safe travels.
  19. Sideoff

    Sideoff Been here awhile

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    Right on, thanks for the feedback!

    Decision made: we’re keeping the bikes and coming back next year!!
  20. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Ash is a reckless daredevil. :clap
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