16.01.2013 - 21.01.2013 28 °C
No crazy minibus stories this time around. It was a non-eventful 3hr journey north to one of Ethiopia’s most celebrated historical cities. Except for the fact we delayed the start of our ride by 45 minutes since we misunderstood the difference between Ethiopian time and our regular time. Oops! All we knew is that we wanted to get there in time for Timkat aka Ethiopian Epiphany and take a wonder in the Simian Mountains.
When we arrived in Gondar this small city of 70 thousand people was abuzz prepping for Timkat. Gondar as a city is by far the most chilled out we have visited on our tour to date. The city has a lot of history which can be seen by the presence of Fasil Ghebi aka the “Royal Enclosure”. It houses a number of castles within this complex built by the various emperors throughout the years. It’s only too bad that parts of the original structure was either changed or damaged during WWII.
The good news is that on the way there we were lucky enough to meet a lovely local and new friend named Tegby. Even though we only met a few hours before, she was so nice to offer us a place to stay. We didn’t want to impose and easily found something up the road. Even if it meant the room had no power and still had to pay almost full price. We managed to haggle a discount for a couple nights for our troubles, a few candles to light the room and a promise it would be fixed in the morning.
That night Tegby was even so kind to check up on us. She then invited us over for some food and a traditional coffee ceremony with her family the next day. We’ve read about this, and never really thought we would have the opportunity to truly experience it so we are very grateful to Tegby and Family!
Now back to Timkat and the reason we made our way to Gondar. It’s an annual celebration which lasts 3 days and gathers thousands of people together to celebrate Ethiopian Epiphany. As you can imagine, it’s a busy time and supply and demand of rooms becomes thin. It’s like anywhere really, just unfortunate that most locals or even travellers can’t afford it as prices double or even quadruple for the 3 days. Since we were already staying at the hotel we managed to secure a room after a good couple days of bargaining. Check wiki for more details on Timkat. For now you can take a look at a few pics.
One of the best things about travelling is that if you’re a “faranji“ you tend to meet various people who want to try to sell you something or who are as likeminded as you. So after a couple days, with new friends in tow you just never know what can happen next...like this picture where we had told our new friends we’d like somewhere quiet where we could all hear each other and they moved a table and chairs outside the toilet and taught us how to dance...Ethiopia style!
Gondar is also the jumping board to the Simien Mountains, one of the largest mountains ranges in Africa stretching for over 1000 miles. We drove another 3 hours north to trek and camp over 2 days and 1 night. The opportunity to see these vast and beautiful views whilst hiking the 26km was the highlight of our trip – throw in the baboons that surrounded us as we walked (and spat at Steve) and this experience will be hard to beat.
And what blog would be complete without a pic of the always amazing toilets we have had to endure. All I have to say is loo roll is like gold in these parts. Amazing and probably why Natalie has still managed to avoid public toilets (2 weeks!).
Thanks Gondar. Now to Lalibela...