The Ethiopian journey begins.

April 29, 2013



you you you


for those of you you you who have been to Ethiopia will of course know exactly what i am referring to! yep good people, Ethiopia is blessed with a very large family; 78 million of them and i kid you not, most of these seemed to have lived on the road between Moyale and Awassa and every child and teenager and young adults would shout at us as we passed, YOU YOU YOU. till today we still do not know if it was an insult intended for us, a greeting, or a warning. based on the vehemence with which it was mostly bellowed at us i believe it would not have fallen into the category of ‘friendly greeting’. The YOU YOU YOU people also mostly had extended arms and upturned palms at the same time. Some however did not have open and upturned palms, those were the ones that chose to welcome us to their country by pelting rocks at our little car. We knew that this was an Ethiopian ;thing. so we never worried too much and even the Ethiopian who spat onto the windscreen of the Imp as we crawled through yet another massively overcrowded village we understood that this young adult who had not acquired common decency in his 20 or so years of living would not likely be taught much manners in a short dialogue with us. anyway he probably would not even speak English or French or Afrikaans or Zulu for that matter. If the truth be told, there were many times that Geoff wanted to EXPLAIN NICEKLY to these folk a thing or three using Afrikaans expletives.  Glad he didn’t.

Almost as numerous as the multitudes of people were the horse and donkey carts. during our trip through the southern part of Ethiopia two people cam every close to their maker with the help of the front of our front bumper.




Just to give one an idea of just how many people live in Ethiopia; at one stage we wanted to pull off the road to reply to a call of nature so we drove to a spot where there were no people walking along the side of the road, WE MUST HAVE HAD TO DRIVE FOR ABOUT 150 kilos!!! Every step of the way on our way to Awassa there were people walking next to the road. either just going from here to there or trying to peddle some goods or fruit or whatever to passing motorists.

Back to the border. Remember we left Kenya through the most friendly and accommodating border officials that ever walked the Earth. now we arrive in Ethiopia, firstly to be irritated to distraction by ‘official’ helpers so called and flotillas of freelance money changers. “no we’re fine thank you was only an invitation for these rabble to insist even more intensely to the point that we wanted to punch someone’s lights out! When does NO mean YES???

We are too clever by now, seasoned travellers and WE’VE JUST CONQURED AFRICA’S WORST ROAD, a road so bad it could not be called a road. So we head in the direction of the Immigration office and the surly official there said,

‘come back one hour, lunch time”

So one hour later we return punctual as requested! Which hotel you staying in Ethiopia and what’s the telephone number? What a first class manner of making a tourist feel totally unwelcome! while our passports were reluctantly being processed the border office took great pleasure in telling tow German tourists that since they did not have the correct visas they would not be allowed through the border! Luckily we had heeded the good advice of our friend Arnold and got our Ethiopian visas before arriving t the border.

once, eventually, we got past the border we found a half decent hotel in the village and booked in to try to get ourselves semi back to normality after our ordeal on the Marsabit Moyale road including our previous night sleeping in the back of Brian’s cattle truck. the showers were cold which was just fine due to the extreme heat of the day and freshed up we decided to eat Ethiopian for our late lunch. well what a pleasant surprise. we so thoroughly enjoyed our lunch that we couldn’t wait to get hungry again. another plus was the fact that not only did we have electricity but we also had WIFI. so we were able to let the World know what our progress, albeit delayed progress, was and to let our families know that we were still alive even though we had been through the infamous bandit country of north Kenya. We even treated our car to a car wash. notwithstanding that we had to draw the water from a well on the hotel’s property.


With our blogsite updated, Car nicely cleaned and our tummies filled AGAIN with a tasty dinner we headed off to an early sleep along with about one MILLION mozzies, yoh!


Our plan; get up 04h30 to head off early to arrive in Awassa by lunchtime or mid afternoon at the latest. this went the shape of a frot pear very early on in the day’s proceeding! Some completely inconsiderate individual just parked their bakkie right behind us and blocked the exit from the hotel parking. it now took us about twenty minutes for the security guard to rouse this illegal parker and get him to remove his vehicle. we need not have bothered to rush in any event… as we progressed up the village to get to the road to Awassa we were confronted firstly by some of the worst potholes we had encountered on our journey so far but we guessed it must just be on the way out of the border town as all the reports were that the road to Awassa was FANTASTIC! well we cold not get on to this FANTASTIC road because we were confronted with a police road block – that only opened at 06h00 – So we had now one full hour to sit and watch in the pre-dawn darkness a troop of about 12 soldiers/police get themselves ready for the duties of the day. their first duty of course was to open up the gate out of Moyale for us to be able to head north. Once again we were robbed of one hour’s drive time due to CONTROLS!

at least the road to Awassa is near perfect we consoled ourselves and we would easily make up the time! NOT TRUE! the road had almost 100 kilometres of gravel road just as bad as the Marsabit to Moyale road except this was dry so although rough it was manageable, but NOT enjoyable! Probably worse, far worse in fact was the stretches of good tar surface.1 Reason being that one gets lulled into a false sense of comfort and with the little Imp barrelling away at between eighty and ninety all or a sardine you get introduced to the foundations of the previously tar surface and the wheels tumble straight into the massive unavoidable cavernous craters in the middle of the road. ! how our suspension and tyres stood up to this new punishment is truly amazing! i believe the solid advice of our good friend and great travel advisor Roger Pearce of the Randburg based EmGee Workshop to put industrial tyres on the Imp paid dividends in these conditions.


so from what we expected to be quite an enjoyable and relatively easy drive turned out to be a seriously stressful and challenging journey that saw us deal with desperate road surfaces, millions of people all across the roads, endless and over crowded villages that seemed to be queued up one after the other all along the road from just outside Moyale right up to the entrance to Awassa.

a shock to us was the absolute filth of the country and people just chucking rubbish on the roadside in the vain hope that when they would bring another load the next day or week the previous would have mysteriously vanished! Not likely! it was then not surprising to have seen a dead hyena in a street of one of the small towns we travelled through! and why a hyena would be fond wandering around a build up area! well we know that hyenas love filth and dirt.

we arrived in Awassa just as darkness fell; another tough day behind the wheel!



  1. People cheering all along the roads from town to town,throwing items up in jubilation,with a comfy hotel waiting for you at your stop.And a full respected police escort and respect for the jolon imp as you leave the town as celebrities.
    I would say this VIP status you have sounds like fun.ha!
    Soldier on,stay strong and know that you have a following, feeding you there love,strength and spirit to complete this massive journey.
    and possibly make your final date.
    what is the latest date/time for you to land at the imp convention and how do you have the energy to keep the brilliant blog going when you probably just want to sleep.

    • hey PAul, i think the 6th of May will be the last day for the Impers. but in this regard Geoff and i are going to rearagne the kit in our car to enable us to lie the passenger seat flat so one of us can drive while the other sleeps. this way we plan to drive night and day to make up this horrible time loss caused by the border crossings and ferries etc.

    • hey Paul,

      many a true word is spoken in jest! well when you said a police escort you were bang on! one of the beautiful Impa at Coventry was a Police Imp complete with siren blaring and all as it led us and a huge convoy of imps into our final destination.

  2. TT / Geoff – great stories all along the way. Many many thanks for keeping us informed. Can’t help to wonder of the excitement and accomplishment of your challenge. With Africa now conquered, we are looking forward to hearing all about Europe. God bless. Ant and Family.

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