After a full 2 days spent in Addis Ababa we found ourselves on a very early flight to Lalibela. Lucy and Jack had their own plans so the airport taxi dropped them at their hotel and I was on my own.
Just a note. The full planning time for this trip was around 2 days. The opportunity arose to join the Great Ethopian Race team and I grabbed that. I then realised that it may be possible to combine this with a slight detour to tick two major points on my travel list – (1) explore the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and (2) walk in the Simien Mountains and hopefully see an Ethiopian Wolf, Lammergeyer and Gelada Monkey.
With very limited planning time, I selected the first community trekking organisation I came across and booked a 3-day trek into the mountains starting in Lalibela. My entire communication with the trekking organisation was limited to
How long do you have to walk? 3 days, 2 nights
Where would you like to walk? I don’t mind. I would like a chance to see an Ethiopian Wolf. Ok. The best option will be the walk to Abuena Yusef. Perfect. (I realised once we started walking that the Ethiopian wolves live at a very high altitude and that Abuena Yusef is at an altitude of 4 600m. Rookie error.).
Please pay into this bank account. Ok. Payment was made via Paypal (in Dutch) via an account in the Netherlands (name in no way linked to the name of the trekking organisation).
Please wait at the Seven Olive Hotel in Lalibela on 23 November. Your guide will find you. Great.
Sitting on my backpack in front of the Seven Olive Hotel, alone, with no cell phone reception (and in any event no contact number for the guide) and having recently discovered that I could not draw additional cash as the ATMs only account 4 number pin numbers (mine has 5), I concluded that this was possibly not my wisest travel plan ever. Fortunately, before I could panic, Getnet and Breku, my guides for the trip arrived. Without much chit chat they loaded my backpack onto Bullet, the donkey, and started walking.
The walk to the first overnight stop was both one of the best and toughest experiences I have had. The scenery is simply breathtaking as was the altitude (literally)! As we started walking we literally walked “up” and out of Lalibela. The altitude in Lalibela is around 2 600m. The gradient was crazy from the start. After an hour or so of this I asked Getnet what the route was for the day and he just said, “Just up. Don’t worry, it will be nice.” The distance for the day was 12km with a 1 100m climb, to an altitude of around 3 500m.
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I was privileged to spend a lot of time exploring wilderness areas in southern Africa from a very young age. I got my first camera when I was 6 years old and I have been passionate about wildlife and landscape photography ever since.