(Day 27) Debre Markos to Bahir Dar – 26 April 2011
Distance for the day – 274 km Odometer – 9 340 km
Hours on the Bike – 03:50
Donations up to date for Adelaide Hospital – R 77 327.00
Today we passed through a variety of different landscapes. It varied from highly productive soils with some huge indigenous trees to shallow rocky soils which were in some places badly eroded. All over the farmers are preparing to plant and will start as soon as the first big rains come, expected from May/June. It was a nice sunny day and not too hot.
We were not rushed, which made the journey even nicer. Along the way we passed several wrecks of armoured army vehicles and tanks. This felt odd and we were later told that this was the remains of a civil war some 20 years back when the then in power, military government, were over ruled by the current government.
We stopped at some of the villages to have a cool drink or a cup of nice strong Ethiopian coffee. We met two gentlemen who were involved in animal science at a nearby University and it gave the farmers a good opportunity to ask some questions on what they have seen so far.
When we reached Bahir Dar, it was the usual hunt for petrol, which was a shock because this city is by no means small. Richard tried to get a new battery for his bike. It has now become a daily event to push start it in the mornings. He did not find one so we will have to just continue without it – wonder if this would have been possible if this was one of the fancier bikes with all the electronics?
Rufus went off to search for an internet cafe and joined them later at the Kuriftu Resort and Spa, situated on the shore of the beautiful Lake Tana. He managed to do some homework and then had a tour of the city with one of the locals to try to sort out a modem/sim card problem. In Ethiopia the law is very strict in getting a sim card. Lirte is a student at a local college and she managed to buy him a card, but it was later discovered that the SA Modem was incompatible – it worked in all the other countries. Nevertheless it was fun and he said that it must have been quite a sight to see him riding the streets of Bahir Dar without a helmet and jacket on a noisy KLR with a young Ethiopian student as pillion. The people are very friendly and are all interested in how we experience their country. They are proud to hear good things about the country, but their English is restricted.
We also had a little taste today of stone throwing, which we were warned about by other riders. Stelios came under fire by some small kids alongside the road. It is a helpless feeling when you sit, exposed on the bike, with stones flying all around you.
Bahir Dar is one of the leading tourist destinations in Ethiopia with a variety of attractions – Lake Tana and the Blue Nile River. The city is distinctly known for its wide avenues lined with palm trees and a variety of colorful flowers. It is also considered as one of the most beautiful, well planned, and safest cities by many standards.
Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia. The lake is approximately 84 kilometers long and 66 kilometers wide, with a maximum depth of 15m, and an elevation of 1,840m. The lake level has been regulated since the construction of the control weir where the lake discharges into the Blue Nile, which regulates the flow to the Tis Abbai falls and hydro-power station.
The Blue and White Nile rivers are the two major tributaries of the Nile. The Blue Nile has a total length of 1,450km, of which 800km are inside Ethiopia. Within 30km of its source at Lake Tana, the river enters a canyon about 400km long. This gorge is a tremendous obstacle for travel and communication from the north half of Ethiopia to the southern half, which we passed through yesterday. Tomorrow we will head to Lalibella, the historic city with the many churches carved out of stone.