Day One, 500 Clicks From Addis to Arba Minch
by John Downey
We left Addis later than expected but still beat the traffic to the first stop in Tiya, a small town of less than 2000 inhabitants, home of a UNESCO World Heritage archeological site. 32 granite stelae mark this site as one of the oldest (more than 800 years) in Ethiopia. Gettacheu Sittaw has been managing the historical grounds for 17 years and was eager to show us around.
A couple of hours further south, we found Ara Shetan, an emerald crater lake that you’d miss without a good guide book (ours is Bradt) and GPS. There are no markings at the dirt road entrance and the crater is indistinguishable from the rest of the rolling hills from the highway. As always, more than a dozen locals descended on us like fans to a random appearance of a Hollywood actor.
Closer to Arba Minch, Lake Abaya suddenly appeared around the bend in the road and we found the entrance (again, only with the gps and a lot of questions to the locals. You have to average the answers to arrive at a good estimate for directions). The 500m road was true 4×4 proving ground, to include mud as thick as half-cured concrete and as dark as Ethiopian expresso. Fortunately, we didn’t stick or highside along the deep ruts and Eucalyptus roots.
Arrival at Arba Minch was welcome rest from a long, but fantastic first leg of the trip. Culminated with a full yellow moon over Lake Abaya and a decent glass of red. Day two will take us through Nechasar National Park.
Cheers from Southern Ethiopia,