Unexpected boom boom, cheeky tyre thrown at us and climbing barefoot

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Africa » Ethiopia
February 5th 2020
Published: February 5th 2020
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It was our first cold night and there was also a heavy dew so departure was delayed a little while we tried to dry out the roof tent. The sun soon came up and it was roasting before long and we were on our way into the heart of the Tigray region of monasteries. Our goal was the most inaccessible one up a rock face.

We left and remained on good tarmac despite leaving the main road which was a great bonus and much appreciated. However on passing through a town a lorry driver rolled a tyre out of his cab onto the road thankfully narrowly missing us. There would seem a complete lack of awareness of other traffic and people walk out into the road throw things but mostly livestock wonders into the road with no care for life or limb.

We eventually reach the foot of the inaccessibly monastery perched some 300m up a vertical rock face. With some local help we found our way until halfway up we were told to take off our shoes to visit this sacred place. This left us climbing around 150m in our bare feet on often very exposed rock. We reached the small monastery at the top which had quite the impressive setting with vertical drops either side and only accessed by walking along a vertical ledge. A priest always lived there since it was first hand carved out of the rock in the 6th century, the views were great but living there would be rather tough.

We headed down and drove on through a large number of churches and monasteries. Along the way the road turned to track and as we drove round a corner a number of locals got very animated at us waving their hands and demanding we stop. We were puzzled but moments later the road just out of view blew up with a loud explosion and dust everywhere. They were apparently doing road improvements. Once we had changed our pants and stopped swearing we took a detour and made our way to Mek’ele.

Mek’ele is the gateway to visit the Danakil depression, also known as the cradle of Humanity. Since the Afar region we were heading to is disputed we had to arrange with a tour group to take us there as you may only get a permit if you take a guard (from what we are not yet sure). The logistics done and set to leave the next day at 4am we found a hotel to chill and prepare for Nelly’s next adventure – driving 100m below sea-level and seeing liquid magma (hopefully).


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