The route from Bahir Dar to Lallibela we knew would be a 50/50 mix of tarmac and gravel, and the main road from Lake Tana to Gashema was exactly that, as the road was still being built and tarmaced. The scenery and drive we both amazing as the twisting road which was often only one lane wide rose high into the mountains offering spectacular views, and some hair raising moments whilst overtaking lorries with a shear drop of over 1000m to one side of the Landrover.
The last 30miles/50km was really bad gravel, and took us down 2000m into a valley, and back up the same distance the other side to Lallibela. The engine started overheating with only 8km to go, but we let it cool down as it started to get hot before resuming our journey.
Once in Lallibela we found a hotel, and then tried to find somewhere to watch Man Utd play against Aston Villa in the Carling Cup final. We already knew that the Ethiopians was crazy for the Premiership, and so yet again it was easy to find a small tented garden with benched seats and a TV where the owner would charge 2birr (£0.10/€0.11) as an entrance fee.
The reason we visited Lallibela was to see the rock-hewn churches that were built there over 700 years ago and carved out of solid rock with both the exteriors and interiors sculpted to form the architecture. From the inside, the churches are quite uninteresting, but from the outside, especially the more photographed church of St George looks really impressive.
Out of the eleven churches in the area, two are now covered with some rather crude space-frame canopies to protect the churches from the weather, and it is sad to see such an ungraceful display of architecture around what is a world heritage site, especially when the entrance fees to the group of churches are so high. (300birr/£25/€28)
Fed up of the hassling again, we decided to chill out for the rest of the evening in the hotel watching movies. Being a tourist in many places that we have visited along the way soon becomes a chore of politely telling people that you don’t require a guide or help or directions to a hotel (where they will get commission) as they follow your white skin down the street like a shadow.
- David Jennings & Nathan Topham
- Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom
- For the past 5 years, me and my best friend Nathan have talked about the possibility of travelling around the world by land and sea, and so finally we have a route, savings and time to set off around the world. What we are doing is living out a dream, a dream we share with many people worldwide, a dream of travelling this vast, diverse, beautiful and interesting planet, but unlike the many others who keep it as a dream, we have the tenacity to make this dream a reality.