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 from the news coverage after a famine of biblical proportion hit the region. The world responded with aid and Ethiopia eventually recovered from that devastating decade, but the tragic news images stuck with people. Thirty plus years on, travelling there still bewilders.
My mind reset took place in 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. 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”.
- The Joy of the New Jordan Bike Trail - October 1, 2018
- The Magic of Macedonia - June 16, 2018
- Mountain Biking Tuscany - March 10, 2018
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.
Thanks Jo, That’s great. I’ll check it out.
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.
Hiking is quite popular in the Simien Mountains. I think you would really love it Freya.
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.
I’m sure they can Jess. They were pretty underwhelmed by our presence though and much more interested in foraging for food than attacking us.
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
You don’t need anyone to go with Rod. Just join the team going in October. It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget.
It’s really awesome collection. Thanks for sharing this list.