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Old 02-07-2009, 01:10 PM   #1
timm11 OP
Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Atlanta, GA + Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
Oddometer: 4
South Ethiopia - 3 Day Riding Adventure

My brother in law lives in a remote bush village in south Ethiopia (East Africa) called Omo. He and his dad work with the Daasanach poeple group there building windmills so they can pump water from the river to grow food year round.

I visit every year and this was the 1st year we were able to do a bike trip since his bikes were just shipped there. I'll post a bunch of pics and some videos with might be overkill but enjoy!

First up, see the map below so you know where exactly we were. Our trip was in the south region of Ethiopia close to Kenyan border at Lake Turkana. Their compound is probably 30 miles north of Lake Turkana. We did a short 3 day loop from the compound near Omorate through the Mago game park, through Jinka and then through Lake Stephanie and back.

We spent a solid day before the trip tuning the bikes and getting ready for the trip. Caleb (bottom left) has a DRZ 400 and the bike I was using was an older XT 225...a little smaller than I would have like but hey, I can't be picky. As you can see, we had the XT 225 completely apart since it hadn't had any major tuning in quite some time.

Here, Caleb custom welded some metal plates so we could strap on some saddles bags to carry fuel and water. There was only one major town half way were we could get water and fuel so it was critical that we carried as much fuel and water as we could.

The morning of, saying our goodbyes. Caleb's saddle bag had two 5 litre jugs in each side and I was only able to carry 2 jugs so we had a total of 6 between the two bikes. 5 jugs with fuel and 1 jug with water. Notice the XR 50 and Trail 90 in the back ground...just for fun around the compound.

The compound is right on the Omo river. There is no bridge here and we needed to get to the other side of the river as that is where our trip started so we were waiting for the boat to cross our bikes.

You can see how high the river banks are...when it rains here (once a year) the water level rises about 10 ft.

Strategizing how we are going to cross the bikes...

Lining up the planks to load the bikes. As you can see, the Daasanach are a very simple and basic people group...minimal clothing if any at all. They live for their cattle and sorgum. Caleb and his dad build the windmills so year round gardening is possible and so more variety of fruits and vegetables can be eaten. Caleb is now the 3rd generation that has continued this windmill project. His grandpa started back in the 60's but forced to leave due to political problems.

Getting ready to unload the XT 225. As an aside, there are crocs in the river. Though not as many as in previous years you still see them occasionally and usually a few Daasanach kids get "taken" by crocs each year.

Both bikes safely can see the sorgum growing in the back ground on the other side of the river. When the river floods once a year, they plant the sorgum and harvest it some months later...that is their primary food source.

And the journey begins...

This is about 2 hours into the trip after we have entered a game park. There is a good assortment of wildlife here. Caleb actually saw 5 cheetas a few months back driving through the park. This day was just gazelle and dik dik.

This was our 1st resting stop...a place called Hunters Camp which is frequented by many loaded tourists that come here to hunt for animal trophies. This camp is actually right on the Omo river about 75 miles north of home base.

Still following the Omo River north...

Here we are now further into the park and we are getting into Elephant terrain. We did not see elephant but we sure saw tons of evidence from torn down trees, trampled brush and lots of elephant dung.

Lunch break on the 1st day at our 1st and only river crossing. We brought a collapsable fish pole with to fish. Tons of bugs and tsetse flies...the bites hurt!!!

A small cat fish

Here is my river doesn't look deep but it got a little hairy towards the end and I almost didn't make it. We didn't get Caleb crossing but he took at bail right at the end...luckily his bike didn't submerge completely but a bunch of water went down his exhaust pipe. I had to rub it in because I am always the one that bails.

Now this is actually not the same river as above....this is about another 50 miles north of the other river and where we were going to camp. It is called the Mago river and it was crystal clear. Shortly after some of the local people (Mursi) stopped by. They are the people group with large plates in their lower lips and ears. We did not take any pictures because they would have wanted money. They left us alone after a few hours of watching. We thought we had kept a close guard on our stuff but one of them somehow managed to steal a jug of oil out of our saddle bag. Caleb said they like to rub the oil on their cattle because it protects them from ticks and tsetse flies. Oh, well it could have been worse.

Once camp was set up we took a dip and did some fishing to try and catch some dinner...that is about the most refreshing dip I have ever taken after a long day of riding in 110 F heat.

Caleb caught us a few fish

Gutted and ready to roast (five in total). They were actually quite horrible because there were thousands of small bones littered through out. still managed to get some meat in our bellies.

This is the morning of Day 2, right before departure.

Now this is leaving the Mago game park (where we camped the 1st night). We had to pass through the mountains so this was on our way up the escarpment. We were heading to Jinka, the one major town we would pass through on the trip. Having run out of water the day before, all I could think about was food and water.

Ahhhhh, finally in Jinka. We stopped into a hotel for breakfast. A big omlette and glass of freshly squeezed Papaya juice. Oh that hit the spot.

Needing to refuel. After Jinka, we were heading to another missionary station called Aldooba. Since there was no gas stations on our route, Caleb knew a guy at this mission station that had some stock piled fuel and he was gracious enough to let us refuel.

Now after refueling in Aldooba at lunch time on the 2nd day, we had a good bit of distance to make it to the flats of Lake Stephanie our 2nd night camping spot. Here at sunset, we have finally arrived. It is just amazing. A lot of the lake has dried up so you have miles and miles of flats as far as the eye can see. We had about another hour of light so we were off to ride the flats and explore.

Some cruising footage.

It is so flat you could literally open to full throttle and close your eyes and not have to worry about a thing.

Now there was a little mound off in the distance so we cruised over to it. Very strange right in the middle of these flats was the giant rock jutting out of the ground. The white stuff looks like a dusting of snow but it is dried salt. I didn't have a picture of this, but after we left this rock that was jutting out, we saw a couple of cars of in the distance at the mountain range in the background, so we rode over there. It ended up being a french film crew that was filming a documentary. They had been there for 10 days and their final shoot was the next morning in a hot air balloon.

Some footage leaving the rock mound...

This is probably my favorite picture of the entire trip...Caleb against the sunset

We finally had to stop cruising because the sun had set and we only had another 10 minutes to get the tent set up. After talking to the french film crew, we decided we wanted to camp right in the middle of flats as far from the mountains as they said there were some hostile people with guns. The lake is basically a dividing line between two tribes so there is occasional fighting.

Eating some dinner before hitting the sack.

This is the next morning (3rd and final day) at sunrise. The night was miserable. At about 10pm all of a sudden there was tons of wind coming from over the mountains. It progressively got worse and our bodies were the only thing anchoring the tent as it was just moving around with each gust of wind.

Some early morning wheelie can see the water line way in the back ground and then right behind the bike another line where water had dried more recently.

A short clip

Getting ready for some more exploring before heading home

This was another rock formation jutting out of the ground in the middle of the flats.

We encountered quite a bit of wildlife out on the flats but it was hard to photograph them while cruising full speed and them darting/changing direction so fast. I was able to get a few shots in, this one a hartebeest.

Here is a video clip of us chasing some Grants gazelle

And this one an Oryx.

Some footage cruising near the lake. It was like glass and very shallow as you can see me touching the edge.

On our way out of Lake Stephanie...we did not want to leave, there was so much more to explore.

Some cruising footage the morning of the 3rd and last day.

Here we are taking our last break and are about 2 hours from the compound and the end of our trip.

timm11 screwed with this post 04-19-2013 at 01:18 PM
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Old 02-07-2009, 01:29 PM   #2
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EEceeopia. Looks like the thing to do.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”M.Twain

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Old 02-07-2009, 02:05 PM   #3
Digger Deep
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nice photos mate. do a report for us some time
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Old 02-07-2009, 02:15 PM   #4
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Beautiful Ethiopia! Thanks for the link. A report on here would be great... check out Digger Deep's Ghana reports for inspiration
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Old 02-10-2009, 07:43 PM   #5
timm11 OP
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Location: Atlanta, GA + Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
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Ok, I've spiced it up a bit and added a report with photos and videos. Hope this gives you guys a better idea what a blast this trip was.
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Old 02-10-2009, 07:57 PM   #6
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Really awesome report & photos!

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Old 02-11-2009, 02:09 AM   #7
on a bright side of life
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great ride !
and from a part of the world we dont see much here.
Nice job.
I'll keep an eye on the TV here... maybe I'll see u in the movie the "frogs" made ;)
Vita brevis, ars longa, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile
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morocco 2006 | morocco 2007 | Traces of Kimangao: An HP2 in France, Spain and Italy | Morocco 2008: a F800GS test ride | where the destination is Anamur - Turkey via Greece...
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Old 02-11-2009, 02:32 AM   #8
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Unlimited offroad riding, wow! here in germany even many dirt roads are off limits for enduros...
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Old 02-11-2009, 02:38 AM   #9
Dr. Topbox
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Location: Was Oz, now London
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Bloody great! Thanks
"Don't worry" they said "It could be worse"
So I didn't worry and it did get worse!

My biggest ride yet. Oz to UK. Read all about it here
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Old 02-11-2009, 03:50 AM   #10
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I've never seen a Ride Report from Ethiopia before.
That was cool.
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Old 02-11-2009, 04:07 AM   #11
Pedro Navaja
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Old 02-11-2009, 04:42 AM   #12
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Nice trip report and photos! Looks like you guys had a blast exploring. Many thanks for sharing your experience. JD
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- Robert Frost
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Old 02-11-2009, 05:16 AM   #13
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Awesome! Thanks for doing the ride report, Tim. Some day the 3 of us will do another spectacular trip like this.
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Ethiopia Trip 2010
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Old 02-11-2009, 05:28 AM   #14
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fantastic. very, very far off the biking map...
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Old 02-11-2009, 05:38 AM   #15
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Awesome!! Thanks for updating the report with all those great pics and comments!! Adventure riding distilled to its essence!!
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