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The Ethiopian highlands, is it really Ethiopia?

The Ethiopian highlands are not what you would expect from Ethiopia. No hot dessert, but mountains instead. There is no famine here, although it is a poor region.

There are two routes from Addis Ababa through the highlands to the North of Ethiopia. The one through the Blue Nile gorge is the easiest one. The other one has higher mountain ranges, where it can get very cold.

Below is the tale of our trip over the higher mountain ranges.

Our overland truck in the Ethiopian highlands
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More Adventure travel tales in Ethiopia:
Bahir Dar, Lake Tana
Lake Langano
Omo Valley
Ancient African Tribes
African Christmas
Other African Tales:
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Masai Tribe, Kenya
Ngorongoro Area

Through the mist and the cold

The first part from Lalibela we descend on the paved road we took on our way in. But then, we dive into the dust, and head up again.

It gets colder and colder, and all of a sudden, we disappear into the mist. We hardly believe we are still in Africa, but some time later we descend again and the temperature gets better.

We make camp at a piece of land surrounded by thorn bushes. Our overland truck just crushes over those.

Again, we have to keep the locals at a distance. But we appoint one of them as our guard and fire maker.

We celebrate the birthday of one of the group, and dance into the late evening, despite the showers of rain that hit us. Life on the road can be great fun, despite the circumstances.

Horse and carriage

Horse and carriage in the Ethiopian highlands
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The following day we enjoy the views over the Ethiopian highlands again.

At a larger town we stop, and are surrounded again by all the locals. We notice that people use horse and carriage here for transport, something we didn’t see earlier.

When we start driving again, we go up to the highest pass in Ethiopia: 3500 meters high. It gets very cold on the truck, and we disappear in the fog again.

On top of the pass, we enter a long tunnel. It is still named after Mussolini, who occupied Ethiopia between 1936 and 1941.

After the tunnel we descend again. We try to descend as much as possible, so it gets less cold where we make camp.

But after a while, the road doesn’t descend any further, so we make camp on a windy, cold field. We have a cold night, and some of us even have headaches from the high altitude.

Richer, or less poor close to the capital

The last part to Addis Ababa doesn’t get much warmer. Addis Ababa is still located in the Ethiopian highlands, and having a few showers doesn’t make things warmer.

We do notice that people are richer, or less poor than in the North. People are better dressed, there is some industry and a number of signs indicate sponsored projects.

A pity that apparently most development money remains close to the capital.

Approaching Addis Ababa
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We reach the outskirts of Addis Ababa. As we approach the city center, the clay huts are more and more replaced by brick houses and higher buildings.

Addis is in fact a nice city, although there are a lot of beggars in the center. We stop at the supermarket, and as soon as we leave the truck, we are surrounded by a few of them.

So after changing money, accessing the Internet, and having a drink we decide to follow the truck to the hotel where we make camp.

Follow our World Journey!! Next Stop: Lake Langano

The high route through the Ethiopian highlands is not an easy one, especially on an open truck. On the other hand, it is yet another adventure.

Find out more about Adventure Travel in Ethiopia.

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