Monday 24 November 2008

18th November 08

Date: 18th November 08
Location: Debre Tabor
Weather: Great driving weather with sunshine all the way. 32°c down to 4°c at night
Status: Preparing for the next of the challenges, and the cold!

Up at 5.30am with the sun still hidden behind the horizon so packed the tent away in the dark, had a quick bite of breakfast and hit the road….the unbuilt road again!

A short 75kms drive brought us to the junction with the tarmac again which we were all pleased to see after the last few days driving. This Africa trip has hardened me to the delights of African roads and made me want an appreciate the good smooth black stuff even more than before and the UK’s roads will never give me anything to complain about….EVER AGAIN!

Drove the relatively easy 120kms towards Gonder, stopping briefly on the way to visit the ruins of an castle built in the early 1500’s which took us up an overgrown 4x4 track which added to the air of mystery surrounding the place, however the gang of 20 odd locals who unofficially escorted us around the place took this away straight away! We paid one of them for taking us around, far too little according to him of course…so we turned the Colonel around a left much to his disgust!

Arriving in Gonder we stopped off at a recommendation in the guide for a fruit juice of mango, strawberry, papaya and avocado all served in a single glass but separated from each other…..tasted awesome! Gathered some extra cash for the ascent of Ras Dashen as I’d no idea how much it was likely to cost and took the road north out of the city.

After the pleasure of the tarmac it was back to the painful ungraded rocky road for another 2hr drive to Debark, the base town for the Simien National Park, and this time the road had taken its toll on the Colonel. I noticed under one of the back wheels a pool of oil ad finally after 33,000 miles one of the rear shock absorbers had given up and burst. Not too bad a performance really! A change will be needed as I have a replacement sometime in the next few days but getting to the mountain is the most important thing now.

I arrived at the park office and made the relevant arrangements for the climb, they told me that I’d need to take three days for the ascent but if the guide agreed then we could try and do it in two. I really need to do it in as little time as possible as the days between here and the likely ferry date of December 3rd are too few, so making them up here is essential if I’m to make it back to the UK in time for Xmas as planned!

Bre will be staying with the truck during the climb but the park regulations state that she’ll need an armed scout with her at all times in case of problems in the park, typical but good insurance I suppose. He jumped in the truck with us complete with his trusty antique looking musket, and we drove along an incredible scenic mountain pass for 56kms passing groups of Gelada Baboons, Mountain Ibix and unique birds to this area. The Colonel hadn’t been above 3500m before yesterday and now today he’s quite happily driving along at 3700m, a first for him!

The campsite at Chennak is at 3660m above sea level and has the most spectacular views all around, as the sun set we put the camp together and cooked the most terrible dinner of pancakes and cheese/bacon sauce….everything seemed to go wrong!

Noticed in the evening that some shit had stolen one of my water containers from the roofrack whilst the truck had been parked up, must have been while we slept in the room at Lal Hotel, Lalibela. The idiot forced the retaining bar and broke it but is suppose they must have needed it for something more than I did. Oh well.

Its damn cold now the suns gone down, from 30°c when we arrived down to 0°c now….eek and a harsh reminder of what the UK holds for me when I get back to England!

End of day location: Simien Mountains NP, Ethiopia.
Distance covered: 280kms

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