We left the Jerusalem Guest house at 7am just after we were handed a fax from Willy’s sister in law – Waltraud – who somehow was able to trace the fax number in the middle of the African bush. The picture of a German beer which apparently awaits us in Freudenstadt was mouth-watering. Thank you Waltraud for this surprise…

What lay ahead this day was simply mind blowing as we were in for a huge mountain pass safari. From Lalibela which is 2700 m above sea level we went down to 1200 m and thereafter up again to the same level. This we repeated more than a dozen times and the first 15o km took us exactly 5 hours!!

Andre mentioned that this makes the Sani pass back down in South Africa look like child’s play…

After the initial 5 hours we hit the tar road again which took us through the mountain area of Northern Ethiopia. From a landscape point of view this is an amazing drive as one can see valleys and mountains in the far distance – almost like from an aeroplane…

We thought that this must be the most dramatic mountain ride until we turned off in Adigrat – from there we hid the mountains which were close to 3200m high. The hairpin bends were unbelievable and sometimes we turned 370 degrees being almost under the road from where we turned. The engineering of these streets going up and down from over 3000m to just over 1000m must have been enormous .

About 200km before Aksum we were again onto gravel but could see a lot of construction work which would also put this stretch of road on tar.
We hit a 10km stretch which was so muddy that it felt like driving on snow and ice. Lipstick had two close shaves – the first one was when the rear end of Lipstick wanted to overtake the front end. Shortly and about 10cm before hitting a bus Willy could straighten the vehicle again – Mark from team Bulldog was able to video the occasion and we will try to upload this onto the web.

Some 5 minutes later a truck was almost sliding into Lipstick and again was able to straighten out just before impact.

These streets are all constructed by Chinese companies and it looks like China is soon becoming the preferred trading partner for African countries in return for constructing all these roads. Team Lipstick however is not sure whether these new roads will be properly maintained or whether the Chinese government is simply constructing the potholes of the future…

About 50 km before Aksum the skies opened up and we were in the middle of a heavy downpour and what makes matters worse it was sunset times.

These rain storms caused havoc with the regions electricity system as the whole of Aksum was in deep darkness when we arrived at around 7.30. Our planned destination the Africa Lodge had no more rooms available and after a while we were able to book into the Consular hotel.
For those out there who would like to visit Ethiopia please note that camping places are unknown in northern Ethiopia and that “wild camping “ is almost impossible as one is immediately surrounded by whoever lives in a 5km radius.

During our morning coffee breaks we always looked for places which we thought are out of the way for anyone to disturb us. At any given occasion in Ethiopia we were within 5 minutes surrounded by locals who starred in disbelieve as we had cappuccinos and tin ham. We soon decided to park the car in a U-shape so that we only needed to guard one open area.

Down the hills – seeing up the hills on the other site of the valley

 

Chinese road construction at its best

Chinese road construction at its best

 

Hardly stopped for brunch and quickly surrounded by locals appearing from nowhere

Hardly stopped for brunch and quickly surrounded by locals appearing from nowhere

 

and this shows a typical breakfast buffet with all necessary ingredients to keep the team lipstick in tip top condition

and this shows a typical breakfast buffet with all necessary ingredients to keep the team lipstick in tip top condition

One thought on “Day 31 – Lalibela to Axum – 570 km

  • July 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm
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    mmm im not sure about the nutritional value of your “tin ham” buffet breakfast.. 😉 x

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