Karsten Horne

From Rwanda to Ethiopia, Reho Travel’s CEO, Karsten Horne, ends on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure through the hill plains and bustling streets of Addis Ababa.

Missed the start of Karsten’s journey through Ethiopia? CLICK HERE to catch up. 

Ethiopia is known as “The Roof of Africa” as most of the country is above 2400m, this makes for a comfortable temperate climate throughout the year. It is only once you are in the Simeon Mountains that you really appreciate how high you are.

The peaks rise up to 4500m however the mountains are dramatic in that you are not surrounded by them, but you are on top of them, looking down into the gorges, gullies and rock formations. For several hours we walked along the cliff edges, stopping to watch the gelato monkeys cavorting all around us. These majestic creatures were pretty much oblivious to our presence, although I suspect the younger monkeys were showing off.

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Outside the national park we came across a group of children who were waiting patiently for us, they greeted Sue, our tour leader like she was a rock star. We had no idea what the excitement was about until Sue reached in her backpack and pulled out an envelope containing photos of the children that she had taken several weeks earlier. For many of these children it is the only picture they will ever have of themselves.

On a recent stop a young mother accompanied the children, desperate to collect a photo of her only child who had died a few days prior. Sue, an Englishwoman who has lived in Ethiopia for 17 years, is an incredible individual who spreads her love of the people of Ethiopia in so many ways. At every village, roadblock, restaurant or local shop Sue would motivate, enthuse, respect and provide hope to individuals. It was like being in the presence of a modern-day Jesus, her simple caring gestures drew everyone in.

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Christianity is a big deal in Ethiopia and dates back to 330AD, so there is a diverse range of places of worship. At Bahar Dar we visited two circular churches that dated back to medieval times, both with bright and colourful murals that coated the entire ceiling and walls. Don’t get me wrong, they were fascinating, but when your local guide describes every painting in detail, relating it back to a scripture in the bible I tend to tune out. I amused myself by making up modern day stories to match the paintings, which I respectfully kept to myself.

At Axum we marveled at giant obelisks known as “stelae” which dated back to the 4th century. The industrious locals carved cool miniature versions that made for nice keyring souvenirs, for an extra dollar they’d even scratch a personal message on the back.

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We also visited the tomb of King Balthazar, one of the three wise men. Carved deep into the rock, the chamber was cool and surprisingly smelt fresh. At one stage I quietly moved into one of the antechambers and meditated for a few minutes, only spoiling my own solitude when I couldn’t resist a selfie and the flash went off.

Axum claims to be the resting place of the sacred Ark of Covenant, it is kept strictly under wraps and apparently only one living person, the guardian, has ever seen it. It’s quite incredible that one of the most important documents in the history of mankind is sitting in a small church in Ethiopia guarded by one man. Then again, back in Addis Ababa we found a dusty Sydney 2000 Olympic Gold Medal, sitting amongst ancient scriptures in a tiny museum behind a church.

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Further south in Lalibela we explored Ethiopia’s best-known attractions, the medieval rock cut churches. Deemed the “New Jerusalem”, the complex of 11 churches were believed to be built over 800 years ago. These churches took 40,000 people with chisels over 27 years to build. That’s a fair level of commitment.

Amaseganalehu Ethiopia!

 

READ: Welcome to Addis Ababa, setting off on an Ethiopian journey

READ: Riding & rising from Ashes in Rwanda

READ: Taking part in an ancient Rwandan tradition

Have you travelled to Ethiopia? Share your experience with us below.