Addis Ababa to Mekele. October 21-29, 2017.
This is a warm day. Most of this leg lies below 1.500 meters. After a solid breakfast with plenty of Ethiopian coffee, we leave Shewa Robit and head North. The road takes us further into the green valleys of Eastern Amhara. We ride through the valleys along the dramatic high plateau that rises majestically to the West with its cold and breezy peaks of up to 4.000 meters.
We drive through farm-land and pass small towns with the occasional local market day, where busy jumbles of curious people, and free-range donkeys, goats and sheep fill the road. Here most people still live and farm the traditional way and the rhythm of life is dictated by the seasonal changes. Outside the towns bee hives of reed are hanging from the trees, while plantations of banana, papaya and mango, and crops of millet and maize, of wheat and pulses cover the fields. Meanwhile rivers and their wetlands provide ample grazing for the live stock.
This is also camel country. These gigantic and tough domestic animals bear witness to the low altitude in which we are. And they bear witness to the old ways of life and the ancient trade routes that still to this day connect the highlands to the West with the dry and sizzling Ethiopian Rift Valley to the East, hiding right behind the mountains as little as 20 kilometers away.
On the photographs: fertile fields outside Shewa Robit and a wet valley around Ataye with the high plateau rising to an altitude of 4.000 meters in the back.