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Abyssinian abysses

13.01.2011

Have you ever heard about the Simien Mountains? If not, imagine something like the Grand Canyon without viewing platforms and fewer tourists. This is where we spent this year’s Christmas – walking along sheer cliffs and peeking down Abyssinian abysses.

Our scout doesn’t speak a word of English, but he knows the way. Even trying to introduce myself to him I utterly failed. He is a great character though and we finally got to terms that for the next six days we would just call him “scout” and he would call us “you”.

All the (English speaking) guides were busy so we have decided to complete our team with a cook and a mule (including mule man) instead. Retrospectively, I think we profited much more from the tasty meals and the mule carrying our tent than we would have from a guide trying to entertain us during the walk. Anyway, that landscape speaks for itself and leaves you speechless in return.

Countless abysses are cutting through the plateaus of the Simien Mountains which by whatever geological tricks came to a temporary rest here at around 3000-4000 meters above sea level. Various hilltops provide spectacular viewpoints which regularly take our breath away if the altitude hasn’t done so already.

Nights are cold up here and days are pleasant. The sun is merciless however. No wonder the Greeks named this land Ethiops “the land of the burnt faces”. A moment of carelessness on the first day left me suffering from badly burnt ear and lips. I wish the Greeks weren’t that accurate for once.

Besides leading us the way our scout is also carrying a gun (of the type you could well find in museums in other countries) in order to ensure our safety. What dangers he was protecting us from remained as unclear as the misty mountain tops in the distance. The only threat he had to ward off consisted of the local kids begging for pens and money. Stones (!) were a successful mean for that and I am quite glad that the gun remained unloaded on those occasions.

Although no Christmas presents were unpacked this year we had a great time and after six days above 3000 meters and covering about 100 kilometres we returned to Debark, tired but happy.

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