(Day 31) Mekele to Aksum – 30 April 2011

Distance for the day    – 247 km              Odometer – 10 197 km
Hours on the Bike        – 04:30
Donations up to date for Adelaide Hospital – R 77 327.00

We travelled today from Mekele to Aksum, via Senkata.

Heading off to Aksum, Ethiopia.

The road was smooth tar and it was definitely worth every minute. The scenery was again very unique and absolutely breathtaking. The last 130 km’s was through a series of mountain passes that are, in some areas as steep as 10%. It is any biker’s dream to ride these mountains with sweeping turns and unbelievable views. There were road works on some stretches that slows the progress a bit and made the ride more difficult with lots of dust and some areas where the roads have turned in to a powder, because of the heavy trucks and traffic.

Detours, because of road works, taking up time.

Road works upgrading the roads to Aksum.

Many twist and turns.

Norman parked on hairpin bend.

No mountain is to steep to build a road.

Norman "eating up the km's"

Beautiful roads that take you to even more beautiful country side.

We stopped at a village to buy some cool drink and biscuits. Rufus, called a small boy who sold him a roll with a potato, tomato and chilly filling. The first quiet place with a big tree next to the road would be our picnic spot. Soon after the rest stop Stelios had a problem with his bike. It was the first flat tyre amongst the four bikes after 10 000 km’s. It was caused by a nail and was fixed by injecting some tyre gel. Norman then realized that his bike was losing water through a hole in the radiator. It was not too serious and we decided to push through to Aksum.

Stelios getting ready to fix his Tyre

An amazing way of traveling through Africa.

Different shapes and sizes.

Mountains like you see in children sketch books.

Ethiopia has amazing scenic mountains.

When we reached Aksum we again were sent away at two filling stations. Black-market petrol will have to come to the rescue again. We booked in at the Yeha Hotel and will probably push on tomorrow to Debark, because of the last 200 km’s of dirt that has taken some riders in the past 9 hours to do. Norman fixed his radiator but there are lots of concerns about the state of the bikes, with broken shocks, radiators that have to be held in place with cable ties and tyres that are getting to the end of their life. We are one day ahead of schedule, but would rather continue to Debark to have enough time for another holdup, if needed, in the next two days. The pity is though that we do not have enough time to see Aksum.

The town is dusty and rural and it is hard to imagine that it was ever the site of a great civilisation. Yet Aksum is one of Ethiopia’s stars. Littered with massive teetering stelae, ruined palaces, underground tombs (most undiscovered) and inscriptions rivalling the Rosetta Stone itself, the town once formed part of the Aksumite kingdom described as ‘the last of the great civilisations of Antiquity to be revealed to modern knowledge’. It’s undoubtedly one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most important and spectacular ancient sites, and Unesco lists Aksum as a World Heritage site. There are several Monasteries, Ancient Quarries, an Animal market, The Aratu Enessa Church and the  33m Great Stele, which is the largest single block of stone that humans have ever attempted to erect.

Tomorrow we plan to move on to Debark with the last bit of gravel road expected for the trip.

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5 responses

  1. rossbennett1993

    Um I would like to know what’s happening with Norman. Is he continuing on the trip with u guys and have his passport been found. What’s happening

    May 3, 2011 at 18:04

    • It looks like there will be no chance for Norman to continue. He is in Addis Ababa trying to arange plans to return to SA.

      May 4, 2011 at 18:17

  2. Wow! You guys are having too much fun. I found you by setting a google news alert for Aksum news. I’ve written a supernatural thriller which begins in Aksum, in stele field.

    I didnt’ see mention of the Ark of the Covenant in your post, which is said to be kept at the Church of St. Mary of Zion in Aksum.

    You can read about that here:

    http://wp.me/P1n1Td-9P

    Thanks for sharing your adventure!

    db

    May 3, 2011 at 15:12

  3. montyme

    Good to have you back with an update. Amazing photo’s again …. thank goodness I did not have to negotiate those dreadful hair-pin bends. Not much further to go now. Enjoy the remainder of your adventure. xxx

    May 3, 2011 at 13:21

  4. Glad to see you guys back on the blog. Bad with no news. Good luck!

    May 3, 2011 at 06:24

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