Many reviews online discourage you travelling in Ethiopia on the bus. But my friend Glen says “A good tourist takes the Bus” and thats what we did. Truly we did not even look for a bus office, it just found us.
We were changing some money and I asked the lady where to buy a sim card, she pointed at the building opposite. I asked again, where to find the bus to Bahir Dar and she said the same building.
It was like a “one stop shop”.
The reason why were are going to Bahir Dar is because its not possible to do Lalilela in one day. I found somebody who has done it, but it was by luck. Bahir Day became our fuelling station in between trips to Lalibela…….the highlight trip.
But Bahir Dar has a lot to offer, what is called the Blue Nile is born here…..right in the middle of the Lake Nile. There are two island on the lake where the monks have made a home, build churches and made it holy place.
Bahir Dar also has the Blue Nile Falls, one of the biggest………it used to be before Ethiopia build a power plant on it diverting 75% of the water leaving the falls with only 25%. But even that is really big.
The trip to the falls is very expensive, you have to hire a private car, pay entrance fee and pay for a guide. You can decide to go there by boat which you pay or by trekking though the mountain. Time is of essence here.
Back to the bus.
We woke up at 3am which was 9pm Ethiopian time. Our taxi took us to Meskal Square where the bus picks and drops people. The bus was ready…..but it did not leave until 6am. Bahir Dar is 495 km from Addis, 10 hours on route 3 and route 30.
The road takes you to Africas most beautiful landscapes. The say Rwanda is the land of a thousand hills, I think Ethiopia is the land of a million hills.
The hills and mountains are endless, with rivers meandering in between and the landscape breath taking. Two sights where the bus will stop for you to take pictures are the waterfalls and the recently completed bridge by the Ethiopian government in partnership with Chinese government. The views are to die for.
The bus was comfortable. With two screens we watched everything the driver wanted us to watch. We even watched The Gods Must be crazy 2 which was really funny. Everyone gets a soft cake and two bottles of 600ml water.
Bathroom brakes are just in the bush, the bus stops somewhere, the conductor announces 5 minutes of bathroom break and we are all in the bush.
The interesting thing about Ethiopia is that its very common to see people taking their bathroom break on the side of the road…..man and women. The only place you will find a real bathroom is when you stop for lunch…that will be in a restaurant.
Its also common to see people showering along the rivers, and when I say rivers….Ethiopia has millions of them.
After 10 hours of sight seeing, three bathroom breaks, one lunch break, dozing and waking up….we were finally in Bahir Dar. My wife said it felt like being at the coast of Mombasa…..for me it just felt Bahir Dar.
The lake is 10 minutes walk from where we were staying, the street busy with Hotels and restaurants and its here that we planned our trip to Gonder and Lalibela.
We were in Bahir Dar first three nights then one night after Lalibela. The first day we visited the Lake and in the afternoon the waterfalls. The following day, 5am in the middle of the pouring rain we were picked with a van headed to Gondor.
The road to Gondor starts from the shoes of Lake Nile, just like other roads in Ethiopia, its full of beautiful landscapes married with endless rivers. Everybody competes for the road, the vehicles on one hand, the animals on the other……dogs, donkeys and horses. The casualties always the dogs…..but sometimes the vehicles too. There are two beautiful sights on this road, the finger of God and the nose of David.
Our car stops in the a small shopping centre, the conductor jumps out and after a few minutes he is back with a plate full of bread. Its breakfast…….with his smile I know the bread is on the house, everybody gets it, and we continue with the journey.
We arrived in Azezo and are greated by a small town, here the horse has the right of way. As a common means of transport here, they are everywhere and its difficult for the car to manoeuvre the road.
We finally after 187 km see the Castle standing right in front of us, and we knew we were in Gondor. The air was fresh, the view from the top of the castle was breathtaking and the people were nice and friendly.
Life was just good in Gondor, and my wife was still with me.