I always enjoyed our lunch or shopping stops in any village along the road.
The local shops and restaurants looks very colourful. The local food was always very good and cheap ! You can eat injera, the local pancake as staple together with vegetables and meat or other dishes.
Except having lunch in these villages or small towns I liked it also to stroll a bit along the road at our lunchbreak, to have a look at the stalls and small shops and to buy some drinks and snacks.
Six KM north of Gonder on our way to the Simien Mountains, we passed th little village Wolleka, once the home of the Falashas or Ethiopian Jews.
Before arriving of Christianity, Judaism was the dominant religion of the north west of Ethiopia. After Christianity became the state religion, the Falashas were urged to conversion. If they refused, their land was confiscated. So many Falashas became skilled craftsmen, for example in pottery.
From 1985 to 1991 many Falashas were airlifted to Israel. Nowadays only a few Falashas still live in Wolleka. The excellent pottery that was made here in former days you cannot find anymore. What you see now in the several stalls in the village, are items, made for the tourists. Unless you are interested in King Solomon depicted in bed with Queen Sheba, there is nothing really worthwhile to see or to buy.
In the village you can visit the old synagogue and some old Falasha houses. There are enough people around, who liked to show you the way.
Travelling from Dejen to Bahir Dar, we had our lunchbreak at a stream. At almost every stream you see people gathering at midday and early afternoon , washing clothes, refreshing theirselves in the water or just sitting in the shade of a tree during the hottest time of the day.
At this stream, where this woman was washing her clothes, we saw two dusty men, who undressed themselves. After a swim they started to wash their pulled out shirts and pants. Their wet clothes dried very quickly in the burning sun during their siesta time.
After visiting Debre Libanos, we reached after passing Fiche and about 100 KM north of Addis Abeba the Blue Nile Gorge. It is told to be one of the most dramatic stretches of road in Ethiopia with breathtaking views at the gorge.
The Blue Nile lies at the right hand side and is coming from the south from Sudan and continues to Lake Tana in the north.
Fondest memory: We left the bus and walked along the edge of the gorge for a long time, enjoying the fantastic views. Little boys walked with us, trying to sell fossiles, found in the area.
We had a fantastic walk along the Blue Nile Gorge. The landscape was absolutely stunning. At the lefthand side the deep gorge with its breathtaking views and at the righthand side high steep rocks and beautiful vegetation, like the dragontrees.
In this area you can see also a lot of lammergeyer birds.
Fondest memory: Walking under a bright blue sky with a nice moderate temperature was a great experience.
North of Bahir Dar on our way to Gonder, we walked again along the road in a fantastic mountaineous landscape. During this walk we saw this striking rock, the so-called ''nose of the devil''.
The roads in this area can be bumpy and rocky. Everywhere they are building and repairing the highways. So often we had to take a parallel dusty and bumpy track.
Under this conditions we were not surprised to have a leaky tyre at the end.
Everywhere in Ethiopia you will find colourful markets. It's always nice to stroll around these markets and to see what's going on and which local products are for sale.
In Bahir Dar we visited the bustling saturdaymarket. Here you can find many goods like woven cotton, the agelgil (the local lunchbox made of leather), materials for the coffee ceremony, coffee, vegetables, beans, spices and herbs. Name it and it's there.
We bought a plastic container to make a picknick salad en route at lunchtime.
Travelling by road north of Debark and the Simien Mountains and after leaving behind this wonderful landscape, we stopped in Maykay for a little break and a drink.
Maykay is a small town. It was nice to walk around a bit, allthough it was rather hot in the area for wintertime. In the centre of the town near the unpaved highstreet is a small church at a small, also unpaved, square.
From the highway to Addis Abeba we took a sideroad to the west to Sekota and after 100 KM to the south to reach Lalibela from the north. It was a fantastic road with almost no traffic through a scenic mountaineous area.
The area was very dry. Sometimes the road descended to the bottom of a valley to cross a river. Higher in the mountains people were standing along the road with containers asking for water, because it's a long way for them to go down to the river in the valley.
We stopped in a small village for a coffee and a softdrink. People were very curious and came to look at us. We had a lunchbreak somewhere down in a valley, looking for some shade under the only big olive tree, we could find.
Fondest memory: In the mountains we saw some typical traditional villages with round huts with thatched roofs.
Coming from Debark and the Simien Mountains, we reached the Tigray area, after crossing the Tekeze river. This area has some bad times in recent history.
The Tigray is known of the drought, causing the famine about 20 years ago. You can see how dry the area is and imagine, what can happen, when there is no water at all for the cattle and people in some periods.
Driving at the plains before reaching Shire you can see a lot of war relics along the road, like rosty tanks. These plains were the scene of the fightings between the Tigrayans and the advancing Italians in the 1930s, and later against the army of Mengistu in the civil war.
North of Debark we descended in the canyon by a winding road, on our way to Tigray and Aksum. For hours we had the most fantastic views to all sides. Especially the view at the mountainridge of the Simien Mountains in different grey tones was stunning.
In this part of the country the landscape looked rather green. So we really enjoyed our drive through these mountains.
Fondest memory: The landscape was so wonderful, the road so winding and the slopes so steep, that we asked the driver to drive not too fast. We made some stops and did some walking along the road to have a better look.
After we walked for some time along the edge of the Blue Nile Gorge, we saw the road winding down. We got again in our bus to continue our route.
The winding road dropped more than 1000 M into the Blue Nile Gorge. At the bottom of the gorge we had to cross the river by a bridge, which, like the winding road, was built by the Italians.
The bridge is a beautiful piece of civil engineering. It's strictly forbidden to take a picture of the bridge. I don't know why, because everywhere in the area you can buy a coloured postcard of the bridge in full glory.
South of Mekele we drove again through an impressive mountaineous landscape. We saw a lot of valleys with agricultural terraces at the slopes. A few times we had to pass a rough mountainridge.
At the end of the afternoon, just north of Maychew, the driver stopped near one of the small villages to buy a big tin of cheap honey.
The traditional villages and settlements in the mountains in this North East area of Ethiopia have round huts with thatched roofs.
We had a short lunchkbreak in Mekele, the capital of Tigray. Because it took a lot of time before our lunch was prepared, there was not much time left to go into town. I saw a small part of the market, but there was not much to do at monday in the early afternoon. Saturday is the main marketday in Mekele.
Mekele is known because of the largest market for salt in Ethiopia. Afar nomads with their camels bring the salt bars from the Danakil Desert into town. It was not the good moment to see the camels with the salt.
From Mekele we headed south to Maychew. It was an impressive mountaineous route.
Fondest memory: I liked the always changing views passing the valleys and mountainridges.
Walking along the road south of Maychew near the Ashange Lake, we saw at the other side of the road this settlement of round huts with thatched roofs.
The location of this settlement on a small hill at the edge of a valley surrounded by mountains is absolutely stunning. The huge flowering cactus trees around the huts looked impressive and scenic. You can experience it a bit by enlarging the picture.
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Bahar Dar, Ethiopia
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples
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