New Year in Thermals

Final leg of the Xmas/New Year trip – a Simien Mountains trek. Fantastic scenery – and home of several Ethiopian endemics  – Gelada Baboons, Walia Ibex and a chance to see the magnificent Lammergier – the bird of prey who gets a meal by dropping bones to smash them on rocks releasing the marrow within. John got a picture of bone in mid-air drop.

Were looked after by a great team: guide (shockingly young), Naga (the man who did everything – tents, transport, cooking, waiting etc.), a Park Ranger (armed) and several muleteers.  Had been warned to prepare for cold and we were – but still taken aback by temperatures plummeting as sunset approached at 6.00 pm. New Years eve: Pat with shaking hands, “are we allowed to go to bed before it’s dark?”!! The final night, approaching 4,000 metres, 4 sleeping bags kept me cosy with temps well below freezing.

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Took a coffee break with a family in their round house “Tukel” one day.  Coffee here is often served as part of a ceremony where 3 cups of different strength are served in succession – all  fine but it does take time! The tukel inside – so dark, no windows and years of smoke blacking.  The family and animals all live inside with very little stuff. As well as coffee we were offered home-made yoghurt –delicious and cool, but nervously tasted as served from a communal rusty tin, probably opened in the mid 50s. Shocking were the flies, which the children didn’t seem to notice crawling over their faces – part of the reason why blindness is so much more common here.

Headed home on a route described by our guidebook as “one of the most spectacular rides in Africa”. The current upgrade means it’s a dusty affair in places now, but that didn’t spoil the views back to the Simiens.

Then, the final leg home was by air from an airport with the sophistication of a gravel runway and facilities to match. As the plane touched down, it looked like it had burst into flames, throwing up such a cloud of dust.  The last half dozen pictures are at the airport which doubles as farmland and a route home from school. Also, note the departure lounge, taxi drop off and security post.

A fitting end to the trip for Pat (who works with deaf students in the UK) was a visit to the School for the Deaf in Mekelle, where she too was impressed by everything she saw.

Gelada Pair

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1 Comment

  1. Lynn Cugulliere

     /  31/01/2013

    Belated happy birthday! Fantastic pictures – what an amazing experience. Love to both, Lynn x


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