Posts Tagged With: Blue Nile Falls

Ethiopia in Panoramas

Hello All! This is Sean.

I know I haven’t posted a blog since…well…in more than a year. And by posted a blog, I mean “A” blog. I’ve only posted one. So this is my second blog post since the inception of alohakuwait.

Well I finished putting together all of these panoramas from Ethiopia and I just had to share them. Ethiopia, especially the Simien Mountains, was just amazing. So there won’t be much text to this post, just eye popping,  jaw dropping pictures 🙂

The pictures will be in the chronological order of our trip. Here is the route that we took:

EthiopiaMap

Ethiopia was a lot larger than we anticipated and we had a few long car drives. But it was so worth it. Can you believe that there are 90 million people living in Ethiopia! In all of our driving, we never went a minute without see someone walking on the road.

So, Ethiopia Itinerary: Starting in Addis Ababa. lunch in Debre Markos. Stop at Portuguese Bridge and Jemma Gorge. Night in Bahir Dar. Morning Blue Nile Falls. Night in Gondar. Morning Gondar Castles, Baths. Night in Gondar. Morning drive to Simiens and start Hike. Two nights in the Simiens. Back to Gondar. Back to Addis Ababa. Night in Addis Ababa see Ethiopian Dancing. Day in Addis Ababa. Night fly back to Kuwait.

PLEASE READ: In order to get the full experience of each panorama, you must click on the picture to expand it larger. Otherwise, what is the point of a pan. So click on the pictures to see them larger 🙂

All right already, bring on the pictures!

JemmaGorgeJemma Gorge – our first stop on our way to the Portuguese Bridge.

JemmaGorge2Jemma Gorge

PortugueseBridgePortuguese Bridge – Abby and Kim on the Bridge built in the 1600’s by the Portuguese (Maybe. Apparently there is some controversy over when and who really built it).

BlueNileFalls1On our way to the Blue Nile Falls – It was the Saturday market day so people from villages sometimes a 5 hour walk away came to this town to buy and sell livestock and other goods. People were swimming naked in the Nile down in the gorge to the right.

BlueNileFalls3Blue Nile Falls – You can’t see it, but much of the water has been diverted to the left for a hydroelectric dam. This is rather unfortunate. If you google image “blue nile falls” you may be able to see what it used to look like. Apparently, they are building a new dam further down the river. Once this is finished (which should be soon based on everyone we talked to), they will get rid of the Blue Nile Falls Dam and these waterfalls will again be spilling water from the far left to the far right side of this picture.

Baths1Emperor Fasilides (Fasilidas) Baths – King in Ethiopia in the 1600’s. His Capital was Gondar. This was his summer home. The entire thing would be filled with water 10 feet high. They would divert a (not so) nearby river to fill the pool. They still do this yearly for a baptism festival. Our guide told us the kids sometimes climb the trees on the left and jump in.

CastleKim3Gondar Casltes – Built by King Fasilides and family. Each new generation built a new castle, right next to their parents and grandparents. Now it is a whole Castle Complex.

Castle3Gondar Castles

Castle2Gondar Castles

CastleKim7Gondar Castles – I forced Kim into a castle photo shoot. These trees had the most amazing purple flowers. And of course my beautiful wife.

CastleKim4Gondar Castles – with Kim.

CastleKim5

Gondar Castles – with Kim.

CastleKim8Gondar Castles – with Kim.

HotelViewGondar Street – From the roof balcony of our hotel.

KimSimien2Simien Mountains – with Kim.

SimienWaterfall1Simien Mountains – You can’t see it now, but during the rainy season there is a very tall waterfall coming down from the crevice in the center right.

Simiens2Simien Mountains

Simiens3Simien Mountains – In one direction there is sheer cliffs dropping 10,000 breathtaking feet. You turn 180 degrees and it’s flat plateau land with these strange palm-like trees.

ImetGogoFullPeopleImet Gogo, Simien Mountains – Here is an (almost) 360 degree view of the most beautiful peak in the Simien Mountains. It is called Imet Gogo.

ImetGogoKimImet Gogo, Simien Mountains – Here is just Kim from the panorama above.

ImetGogo1

Imet Gogo, Simien Mountains

ImetGogoSeanPanImet Gogo, Simien Mountains – with Sean.

ImetGogoKim3Imet Gogo, Simien Mountains – with Kim. This picture was taken from the Imet Gogo peak. You can see Kim in the middle walking on the perilous path that you must take to get to the Imet Gogo peak. Both sides of the path were rather dangerous cliffs.

ImetGogo3Simien Mountains – On the left is the Imet Gogo peak. On the right out of screen is the next peak we were heading to, Inatye.

KimSimien3Simien Mountains – with Kim. Hiking around the backside of Inatye.

SimiensAllPeaksSimien Mountains

Simiens10Simien Mountains – Here you can see the peaks. The peak 4th from the left is Inatye (13,353 feet). The peak 6th from the left is Imet Gogo (12,881 feet). We went up both in one hike…

KimSimien4Simien Mountains – with Kim. From our campsite in Chennek.

Simiens11Simien Mountains – with our fearless local guide.

Well there you have it. We loved Ethiopia.

Hope you enjoyed the pans!

~Sean

Advertisements
Categories: Ethiopia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ethiopia: Iron Like A Lion In Zion

I need to confess: I’ve been keeping a secret from you. You had to have been wondering about our spring break, right? We’re at an American school, we had a spring break last year, and we’ve been burning the midnight oil since January.

We had a spring break. What a spring break we had.

We went to Ethiopia.

I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to build any anticipation. Some people don’t like excess anticipation, and we had the trip planned for months. Ethiopia doesn’t have as much background knowledge with people, and I thought it would be a nice surprise : )

Now that we’ve returned from our trip, I can boldly say that I have gone where no Wisconsin-Middle-School-Teacher-Working-In-Kuwait has gone before. We booked the flights in early November, and had months of scouring the internet, staring slaw-jawed at pictures of baboons, castles, mountains, and waterfalls.

Why Ethiopia, you ask? It all started one lackluster evening in Kuwait; I had finished my lesson plans for the following day, swallowed my hummus, sipped my tea, watched my episodes, and reclined on the couch, nibbling on baklava, staring at a map of the world. (Yes, this series of events is a frequent occurrence in my life. Admire or pity me, your choice.) I noticed that Ethiopia was considerably closer than I had originally thought, and that there was a patchwork of national parks and mountain ranges. I called up my girlfriend Abby, and an hour later we booked our tickets.

We couldn’t have made a better choice.

I don’t know how to describe Ethiopia, it was unlike anywhere we’ve ever been.

Ethiopia was…

Camelot
Baboons
One of the largest mountain ranges in Africa
Giant smiles and waving hands
Platters of delicious food, meant to be lovingly shared with friends
Rastafarian history
Foosball
Beautiful women
Great music
Pure, simple life and love.

We hired a driver, and are so glad we did. His name is Demiss Mamo, and really felt more like a good friend than a business. We spent all our meals with him, hiked with him, laughed with him, told stories with him, and learned more about Ethiopia with him than we ever could have alone. Demiss was the best driver I’ve ever had, and actually miss him quite a bit. He is a unique soul. Check out his website at http://www.ethiopiandriver.com  – he’s even driven for Reuters, BBC, and Oxfam.

Shall we get to the first round of photos?

IMG_4834

Snapped out of the car window as we drove from the capital city, Addis Ababa, up to Bahir Dar on Lake Tana. A simple home, a bit nicer than most we saw in the countryside. I can’t believe the hardened mud walls hold up so well, even through the rain.

IMG_4836

Our first stop was at an overlook to the Jemma River Gorge. We had a coffee (Ethiopian coffee, mind you! More on that later…) at a lodge that was perched right on the cliff; it was really beautiful.

IMG_4843

Our friends Kyle and Abby overlooking the gorge. We have grown really close with them this year, and had a blast with them in Ethiopia. They are a couple that we would love to stay in touch with forever; hopefully we can find space in our new school in Cambodia for them…

IMG_4847

The Jemma River is a tributary to the Nile. The gorge is over 1,000 meters deep. The weather was just perfect, and the coffee tasted just right. Paradise.

IMG_4850

After our coffee, we began a short hike along the rim of the gorge. There were Gelada Baboons everywhere! We were terrified at first, but our driver laughed and told us they are harmless.

IMG_4867

Our hike took us to the Portuguese Bridge, built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. It is still used as a traveling route on market days. They say it was constructed out of limestone and ostrich eggs!

IMG_4879

After our diversion in the Jemma Valley, we continued driving North towards our destination, Bahir Dar. I shot the above photo out of the van; like I said, our driver was fantastic! We had a van to ourselves, it was so relaxing and great to be able to spread out. We felt so safe the whole time, and it was so nice to have someone who knew all the directions and the good places to stop and eat.

In the above photo, you may notice the yellow water jugs. We saw them everywhere; it was really humbling to realize that people walk miles each day to get to their water source. They then walk an hour or farther back to their home, only to carefully and meticulously ration the water they’ve transported. And here we are in Kuwait (or America) taking twenty-minute showers. It made me really disappointed in how carelessly we use water in a large part of the world. How easy our lives are, and how mindlessly we are able to live.

IMG_4900

From the Jemma Valley we continued north and eventually reached the Blue Nile Gorge. The magnitude of this gorge is inconceivable. I had to find some statistics online after returning, just so that I could conceptualize how large it actually is:

The Blue Nile gorge is 250 miles long.
The Grand Canyon in America is 277 miles long.

The Blue Nile gorge is 1,500m deep, that’s 4,921 feet deep! (If that doesn’t make sense to you, I’ll say that from the top of the gorge to the bottom is almost 5,000 feet. Or that the walls of the gorge rise 5,000 feet from the bottom of the canyon.)
The Grand Canyon is 1,800m deep, or 6,000 feet deep.

As you can see, they’re comparable in size. We visited the Grand Canyon of Africa. Pretty cool, huh?

IMG_4905

The Blue Nile River at the base of the Blue Nile Gorge. (Those cliff walls are the first in a series of steps of walls; it is far to vast to capture in a single photograph!)

IMG_4913

We stopped in a town called Debre Markos for lunch, and Abby and I discovered the most delicious meal on the face of the earth: Beyaynetu. Beyaynetu is an Ethiopian staple food, and is perfect for vegetarians like myself. It is served on injera, which is a sour pancake-like bread. You eat it with your fingers, using the bread as your serving utensil. You pull off a piece of injera, scoop up some lentils/veggies/shiro of your choice, and pop it in your mouth.The whole time we were in Ethiopia Abby and I split beyaynetu, as it was massive each time we ordered it! Needless to say, we ate beyaynetu for every meal.


IMG_5025

Another meal of beyaynetu on our trip, complete with local Ethiopian beer. I particularly liked the hot green paper, stuffed with minced onions. Every different item on the injera had it’s own unique flavor and texture. We absolutely devoured it. You will see many more photos of food before I finish talking about Ethiopia…

IMG_5021

A fascinating rock sculpture called the Devil’s Nose.

IMG_5011

Sean and I passed many hours in the van playing cribbage.

IMG_5007

A selection of Ethiopian beer (and Kyle very excited in the background). I particularly liked the Dashen beer, on the far left. Sean preferred St. George. Everyone liked Bedele. Okay, after two years in Kuwait we love any beer.
IMG_4999

We spent an afternoon relaxing on the shores of Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. It was so lush and green!

IMG_4998

Here’s another food picture, this time an action shot of Abby and I eating injera. This meal, however, is not beyaynetu, but something called shiro. Shiro is made from powdered chickpeas or broadbeans. We would sometimes order a whole platter of shiro and injera, as seen above. Yum!

???????????????????????????????

The Blue Nile Falls.

IMG_4981

Sean and I at the Blue Nile Falls.

IMG_4967

Hiking to the Blue Nile Falls, I just had to capture this quintessential African tree…

IMG_4947

Abby, Kyle, and I waiting for Sean on a bridge near the Blue Nile Falls. It was market day so everyone was taking their animals to the market near Bahir Dar.

IMG_4940

A crowded bridge (foot traffic only) on the way to the Blue Nile Falls.

IMG_5028

After the Blue Nile Falls we stayed in a gorgeous bed and breakfast called the Lodge Du Chateau in Gonder (Gondar). It had a beautiful terrace overlooking the mountains. We spent many hours playing cards and sipping coffee up there. Paradise.

IMG_4916

Storytelling and recapping the day at our hotel in Bahir Dar.

IMG_4926

The first night, in Bahir Dar, we stayed at a place called “B & B The Annex”, which felt most like a homestay to me. We woke early in the morning to symphony of birds dancing through the trees. Sean was reading his book, sipping fresh mango juice, and I was giving serious thanks for this gorgeous life we live.

That wraps up the first two days of our trip in Ethiopia! Stay tuned for photos of what has been called the “Camelot” of Africa, the Simien Mountains, baboons, and much more!

Categories: Ethiopia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.