Ethiopia: Abyssinia Adventure
Hwy 1: Addis Ababa to Mekele

Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours
 
       
 

Small group, self-contained people-to-people bicycle tour from Addis Ababa  to Mekele -- across the high plateau and into the gouges of the Horn of Africa. This tour passes through some spectacular countryside and traverses some the culturally rich territory of Amhara, Afar and Tigrinya people.  And samples some of the wonderful hospitality of the region.  Both the people and the scenery seem to get more and more wonderful everyday.

       
  Farmland and countryside east of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
 
These photos are from a visit in 1996 -- in the days before digital photography and much more judicious use of the shutter.  The photos have now been digitized but have lost some of their quality in the process.  
  Tanks disabled during the civil war in 1991, at a mountain pass, Ethiopia.
 
Early 1991 saw some of the fiercest battle of the Ethiopian civil war, that would bring down the rule of the Derg by May.  Five years later debris from battles could still be found on the road side, especially at strategic mountain passes.

Another concern were warnings of mine fields just off the roads.  No one had an iota of compulsion to go cross country.

 
  View of big valley and big mountains, Ethiopia
 
By 2010 most of Highway 1 was paved, but in 1996 most of it was gravel.  A few sections that had been paved had been torn up by military activity.  In 1996, they were just starting the process of fixing the highway.

The road surface didn't matter a lot, both the big views of valleys and mountains and the detailed views or the local culture were sufficiently captivating to exceed any hardship.

A view of  a valley and mountains generally meant that a long descent, followed by another long ascent lie in our future.  So much of the route was either an ascent or descent that we joked that there might be no word for flat in the local language because it would have been an abstract concept.
 

Small boy by a tall house, Ethiopia
  Ethiopian woman with traditional tattoos.
 
Ethiopian woman traditional did tattooing on their face. This included religious symbols on their foreheads and lines or geometric patterns on their necks and chin line.

Cattle walking through a town on its way to market is not an uncommon sight.

Cattle walking through a town, Ethiopia
  Afars leading a camel caravan, Ethiopia
 
The primary ethnic group living along the southern half of the route is the Amharic, but the Afar ethnic group lives to the east and mix in.

The primary domain of the Afar is the lowlands of eastern Ethiopia, including the Danakil depression.  In that area they mine salt, which is brought up the hills to the markets in the highland towns by camel caravan.  The Afar also collect fire wood in the mid-elevations which is similarly brought up to the towns on the plateau.

 
  Boy posted to scare birds away from the ripening sorghum crop, Ethiopia
 
Boy posted to scare birds away from the ripening sorghum crop.

At Woldyia there is an east-west cross-country road that links Highways 1 and 3.  This is now the access route to Lalibela, which is know for its enormous rock hewn churches.

 
   

Side trip on B22 (China Road)

 
   
   
   
 
   
   
   
   
       
   

(Addis Ababa) (North: Mekele to Axum)

 
       
     
       
 

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Ethiopia Bicycle Tour: Addis Ababa to Mekele