Sunday, January 15, 2012

The plan

Right! As always, we have a plan. This time we will be traveling in circles – there is really no other logistically convenient way to do it.
We’ll fly to Addis Abeba, only to pick up our Somaliland visa, and then we take a plane to Djibouti, where we will start our trip. After a few days we’ll get to Hargeisha in Somaliland, either by plane  or mini-bus. From there we get back into Ethiopia via Jijiga, then the old walled city of Harar, Dire Dawa, and back to Addis Abeba. First cycle completed.
In Addis Abeba we pick up a car and a guide, for almost two weeks, and travel via a few African markets to Assaita and the Danakil Depression – the bottom of the rift valley – to Mekele, Adrigat and Aksum, in the north of Ethiopia. From here we take  public transport again, and fly to Lalibele, and then on to the old imperial city of Gonder. If we have time we spend a few days hiking in the Simien Mountains near Denbark, and then we backtrack to Gonder and Lake Tana, to take a ferry from a place called Gorgora to Bahir Dar, and the falls in the Blue Nile. From Bahir Dar we take the bus to Addis Abeba. Second cycle completed.
We pick up another car and guide, and head south, via Awasa and via a string of rift lakes to the South Omo Valley, the area where all those colourful tribes live. Jinka is the biggest town there. Back via Arba Minch and Hosaina, once again to Addis Abeba – third cycle completed -, before we catch our flight back home.

We have two months, which should be enough to complete these three cycles, but doesn’t leave a lot of time for lingering around longer if we like it somewhere, neither for additional side trips. What do we miss? We won’t have time for the Bale Mountains, in the south. We will also not do much game watching, for which Ethiopia anyhow isn’t the most obvious choice. We avoid the Ogaden desert in the east, and the border with Somalia proper, not a big loss, I reckon. The only real regret is that we won’t have time for the west of Ethiopia, which apparently is also a beautiful area, and as yet unspoilt by tourism. And we won’t be able to go to Eritrea, and the Red Sea coast, also a regret. Perhaps some later date? Unlikely, but you never know. For the time being we have our hands full.

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