Why Go? Mountain Bike Expedition Ethiopia


If I told you that my latest trip was to a lush and fertile country with jungles, rivers, deafening waterfalls, tropical forests and ranges that resemble the Alps and the Grand Canyon, would you think of Ethiopia?

Me neither – until I rode through the UNESCO World Heritage Simien Mountains in the North. On an a two-week mountain bike expedition, I discovered a very different Ethiopia from the one that I remember in the  80s news footage.

At the mention of Ethiopia, my mind auto-defaulted to images of a biblical famine: Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war were starving to death on barren plains. Dying mothers struggled to cradle emaciated children. It was a hellish desert plagued by death and swarms of flies – a tragedy that shouldn’t be forgotten. And it wasn’t.

The world responded with aid, and Ethiopia eventually recovered from that devastating decade, but its image suffered. The tragedy is, thirty years on, travelling there still raises a bewildering “why?”.

My “why” was to explore Ethiopia’s culturally rich highlands, a crossroads of civilisations and one of Africa’s natural marvels.

Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500m.

Our small team of seven rode on a web of natural trails worn by millennia of foot travel. We experienced traditional village life, which has continued unchanged for centuries. All monies spent stayed in local hands to help boost the country’s fledging tourism economy.

Wildlife-wise the park is home to some extremely rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the Walia ibex; a goat found nowhere else in the world.

Further up the wow factoid scale, Ethiopia is acknowledged as the land of origin of the first human species. Skeletons discovered there are about 3.3 million years old – this why the country is known as the cradle of humanity.

We can also thank Ethiopia for Live Aid; possibly the finest lineup of mulleted musos known to mankind that were pulled together in response to Ethiopia’s plight all those years ago.

We should never forget the tragedy that unfolded in the 80s, but now when I think of Ethiopia, my mind auto-defaults to a jaw-dropping landscape, joyous people and one of the most enjoyable mountain bike trips of my life.

Grab a coffee (which also originated in Ethiopia ) and see the beauty of the Simien Mountains from handlebar view in my short film “Wild Tracks”.

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9 Responses to Why Go? Mountain Bike Expedition Ethiopia

  1. Johanna October 12, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    Another fabulous adventure Tracey! I love your reasons to go, and I love that I can live vicariously through your ‘bum twitching’ moments without having to experience them myself 😉 I think you are very courageous and wish you a fabulous trip – can’t wait to read more about it. There’s a really active Facebook Group called Boomer Travel Bloggers – you might like to join? They are a really supportive bloggie community.
    Johanna recently posted..5 Tips I learnt from Advanced Style the MovieMy Profile

    • Tracey November 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

      Thanks Jo, That’s great. I’ll check it out.

  2. Freya December 11, 2014 at 4:37 am #

    WoW Tracey that looks like an amazing adventure. I do remember the footage of starving children from Ethiopia but I also heard from several people that Ethiopia is such a beautiful country. I’m not sure whether I could do the mountain biking myself but I would love to do some hikes in Ethiopia one day. Looking forward to read more about your adventure soon.
    Freya recently posted..Exquisite Luxury in Kapari ResortMy Profile

    • Tracey December 12, 2014 at 12:23 am #

      Hiking is quite popular in the Simien Mountains. I think you would really love it Freya.

  3. Jess March 20, 2015 at 2:08 am #

    Wow, that is an awesome image surprised with these monkeys.
    You need to know that they can become in an instant pretty dangerous and they can outrun a mountain bike with ease even on smooth terrain.

  4. Rod Gaither June 8, 2015 at 2:34 am #

    The way you tell your adventures, it makes me feel like I’m there with you. And now I’m envious. When the NBA season is over, I promise I’m flying to Ethiopia and experience that expedition myself. Now who I’m going with… Hmmm. Let me get back to you on that. LOL
    Rod Gaither recently posted..Can the draft pick and free agency help Phil Jackson in the Knicks rebuilding?My Profile

  5. Leon Tong July 15, 2018 at 4:16 pm #

    It’s really awesome collection. Thanks for sharing this list.

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