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Old 02-11-2010, 08:07 PM   #1
treepawpaw OP
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Apr 2007
Location: Arusha, Tanzania
Oddometer: 112
10 days in Ethiopia

Okay so here is our 10 day trip around Ethiopia. And here is a little about us.

Caleb - Adv ID: treepawpaw
Bike - 2003 DRZ400S
Home - Ethiopia
I grew up in Kenya and Ethiopia. I am currently living in southern Ethiopia with my wife and 3 kids. We are missionaries working with the Dassanech tribe. I have an Agriculture project along the Omo River building windmills for small scale irrigation.

Tim - Adv ID: timm11
Bike - 2001 WR250F
Home - Atlanta, GA
Tim grew up in Tanzania but left in 1996 and am currently working in Atlanta. He is married to my sister and tries to visit once a year.

Marshal - Adv ID: Tusker
Bike - 1986 XT350
Home - Newton, KS
Marshal grew up in Zaire and spent a few years in Ethiopia and is Caleb's cousin and currently an engineer in Wichita. He is planning on moving to Ethiopia in 2011.

Tim and I did a short 3 day trip (a year ago) that some of you may have already seen...if not here is the link to that ride report Anyways, the three of us have dreamed of doing a longer trip like this for some time and we finally decided last minute (in November) to take the plunge and do a trip this year. All three of us had very pregnant wives at the time which made the trip very challenging to pull off...if you know what I mean.

NEW: A 2 hr video compilation of the 10 day journey:

Part 1 of 9
Part 2 of 9
Part 3 of 9
Part 4 of 9
Part 5 of 9
Part 6 of 9
Part 7 of 9
Part 8 of 9
Part 9 of 9

Here is an overal map of our 10 day journey. We started in Addis Ababa and headed southeast and went clockwise back to Addis.

Here we are prepping the bikes the night before departure. Marshal and Tim arrived at 2am and went straight to work adapting a 6.6 gallon tank to fit the WR and finished by 7:30am. The DRZ is mine and the WR is Tim's...we had to find a bike for Marshal and it ended up being the XT which we had worries about in the beginning but every day we gained more trust in it.

Here we are the morning of departure, getting last minute things ready.

Departure, 1st day. Our plan was to start in Addis and end in Bale Mountain National Park.

Here we are at our first fuel stop and a breakfast of njera and wutt

Marshal, Happy to be back in Ethiopia

Potty break 30 minutes after breakfast

Checking out a mysterious brakeline leak that fixed itself.

So we thought we were going to have an easy day, unitl we found out the that road ended at a huge river with no bridge. This really threw us off and we lost quite a few hours. But we were able to find this road with turn out to be excellent.

Out of fuel in the XT but we had plenty to borrow from in the DRZ

Me at 10,700 ft and really cold

Tim is cold too, luckily we just missed the rain

The first day we really got off track due to the lack of a bridge accross the Wabe Shabele River. We ending up in a town called Assasa. It was already dark so we found a hotel for the night. It cost 60 birr (5 USD) for the 3 of us.

They were even kind enough to throw in 8 squares of TP for us to share. We were actually lucky to have a toilet.

I was the lucky one and got the floor.

Up early cause we were 330km behind from where we had planned to be. Day 2 we were supose to make it to a town called Yabello but decided to shoot for Negele which was still going to be a long day.

Tim and I arriving storo's by the road waiting for Marshal and the Mighty XT

This trip was just filled with fantastic scenery

Breakfast of Injera and Wutt along with a very syrupy tea and capuccinos

Climbing, getting into the mountains near Bale

We came across some Russian Tourists along the way and stopped to chat for a while.

Tim looking a bit tired.


Black market fuel stop but they only had 30 liters available so we had to search in the next town as well but you have to take what you can get here. Just minutes before this picture a horse pulling a bugey crashed into the XT knocking it over.

At the entrance into Bale Mountain park. We were supposed to pay entry fees 60 km back but somehow missed it and had to bribe our way through (which turned out to be cheaper than the entry fee).

View from our lunch spot in the park

We had bought bread in the previous town so we enjoyed pepperoni sandwiches with Chick-Fil-A mayonaise packets that Tim had stashed for the trip.

Lunch spot

Turning off to head up to the highest point in the park.

At the top...14,136 ft...the highest motorable road in Africa conquered with stock jetting amazingly even for the WR.

Stunning view.

Marshal had a "tip over" or so he liked to call it and found his way into this massive rut. We call it the 1st bail of the trip. He wasn't happy with us

Heading down the other side of the mountain and leaving the park we got into a really cool rain forrest.

It wasn't long before it got dusty

In a matter of 2 hours it went from near freezing at the top of the mountain to 100 degrees so we stopped for a bathroom break and to take the liners out of our jackets.

Towards the end of the 2nd day we found a little stream for us to cool off in.

All these guys travel at night and this is what often happens.

Flat #1 - Start of Day 3, we were 50 km from Negele where we had hoped to be the night before. After riding 30 min in the dark the night before we just decided to pull off the side of the road to camp. Right before leaving on our longest day yet (550 kms to Lake Stephanie) noticed the WR had flat tire.

Our campsite.

Ant hills seem to make perfect bike stands.

Flat #2 - In finishing up Tim's tire, Marshal noticed the DRZ also had a flat tire. We were praying this wasn't a sign of what the day was to become.

Flat #3 - 20 minutes after leaving the camp site, Marshal picked up a nail in his rear tire so we decided I would go on to Negele to refuel and pick up some water and food while Tim and Marshal would take care of the flat.

Camels of the Borana tribe.

A perfect road to Yabello until....

...Tim flies at full speed into this wash out. Tim cleared the whole ditch but the bike wasn't so lucky and slammed into the wall on the other side. Fortunately nothing on the bike was broke, just a bent handguard.

Flat #5 - We have given up all hope of reaching Lake Stephanie today after five flats and the sun is setting. It is still 230 km away. We didn't have any more rear tubes so we jammed a front tube in the rear. We discovered that the tire had a broken chord and that is what caused this flat and the previous one so we cut off the wire and jammed another piece of inner tube in there to try and get us to my house 350 km away.

Arriving in Konso in the dark. After debating we decided not to push on to Lake Stephanie and to get a hotel here.

We left the next morning at 5:30 am in an attempt to make up some of the lost time from the day before. The goal was to get to my house by 1pm so we would have time to cross the 3 bikes over the Omo river and have some time to maintain the bikes before pushing on the next day.

Flat #6 - We are about 30 km's from the turn off to Lake Stephanie and Marshal had another flat.

Heading out to the flats on Lake Stephanie.

Lake Stephanie. Usually there is lots of wild life on the lake but we did not have any luck finding any animals to chase today. The trip with Tim (ride report link at the top) we saw lots of animals and had a good time chasing them.

A hot spring out by one of the islands on the flats.

River crossing. When it rains, this river will close the road for a week at a time. We got luckly and river had just gone down from the recent rains.

At Omo, my home is across the river in all those trees.

We noticed Marshal's rear tire was on its last leg with the bead popping out as we got to Omo.

Crossing our gear before the bikes.

It's good to be out of riding gear.

This guy remembers Marshal from a visit 10 years back.

The DRZ is up first for crossing.

WR's turn to be crossed.

Back at my house.

The maintenance begins. Air filters cleaned, oil changes, two rear tires changed, refueling.

Beginning of Day #5. Today we headed to Mui Park which is about 200 kms of very sandy totally overgrown with thorn trees. It is 9 am and already 100 degrees.

Arriving at Mui Park

After setting up camp we decided to head out to the plains to see if we could find any animals. Marshal and I saw a lion maybe a kilometre from the camp.


Morning of Day #6 we woke up to a buffalo 30 ft from our tent in the bushes. After a near charge the scout was able to chase him out so we could see it.

The road out of Mui park. Today we were going to Mizan Teferi but first 70 kms of very technical riding. We went from 1500 ft to 8600 ft.

Flat #7 - Marshal had another flat on his front amongst the aggressive Surma tribe. Thanks to Marshal's pinching skills this repair took twice as long.

Marshal examing his pinch...obviously in denial.

While the Italians occupied Ethiopia from 1936 to 1942 they built this cool road between these two mountain peaks by stacking stones forming a motorable ridge.

Fantasic view on either side.

I noticed my chain was incredibly tight and so I stopped to check it out. I had hit a hole a few kms back which I wheelied over but the back wheel hit really hard and actually shoved the axle back so we stopped to fix it.

Flat #8 - Tim managed to get a flat on his front tire 40 kms from Mizan Teferi and the sun was starting to set. It was clearly a pinch from a hitting a rock.

Day #7 started out bad. In Ethiopia Christmas is actually on January 7th. The night we arrived the town was hoping with parties everywhere including a big one at our hotel. Unfortunately Marshal and I forgot to take out our keys and when we came down in the morning, Marshal's key was missing...some drunk must of stole it the night before.

After a few hours we were able to bust off the gas cap and start the bike by simply unplugging the ignition.

Flat #9 - Marshal picked up another nail passing through the town of Tepi.

Flat #10 (final one) - Tim had another flat in his rear tire, it was another nail and a couple thorns.

An abonded tank on the side of the road from the war back in the late 80's. It still had live .50 cal rounds in it.

After much searching we found a nice camp spot just as it was getting dark in a little valley with a fresh spring running next to us so we could bathe and wash up. As you can see, this was the dustiest road of the trip.

Day #8 - Waking up after a miserably cold had to be in the 30's.

Lunch in Gimbi

Tonight we are headed to a friends house who live with the Gumuz tribe.

Dideza River

Day #9 leaving the Gumuz we had 30 km of unused track...a lot of which was bamboo forrest which turned into thick grass that was 15 ft tall and almost unpenetrable.

I promise we will be the last people on this road.

Finally made it out of the grass and are busy picking out the grass seed that worked their way into riding gear.

Tank #2

Tank #3

Our first sighting of the Blue Nile.

Blue Nile bridge


Day #10 - Final day of riding after a good nights sleep in Debra Markos. We are on the way back to Addis Ababa.

Our 2nd crossing of the Blue Nile. This is the larger and more well known gorge. 50 km rim to rim.

Making use of the pile of old road...

We stopped for lunch at a bridge that was built by the Portugese back in the 1400's out of stone and crushed up ostrich shells for mortar.

Back in Addis where we began...all in one piece.

It was a sad day.

Talking about the great trip.

Trying to get the bike back into it pre trip condition for the generous owner.

We also took 4 hours of video footage and may post some of it here if we get a chance.

Thanks for reading...

Caleb (treepawpaw), Tim (timm11) and Marshal (tusker)

treepawpaw screwed with this post 08-04-2011 at 07:26 PM Reason: added video footage of the trip
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:21 PM   #2
Joined: Apr 2009
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Looks like you guys battled a lot of flats out there. So far so good though.

'08 690e
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:53 PM   #3
Lefthand ride Dutchy
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That looks awesome. Is there a map view of where all that was?
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Old 02-11-2010, 11:39 PM   #4
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Great pictures, thanks.
Stephen Aki
Chesapeake, VA
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:36 AM   #5
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Wow! Awesome ride, report and pics!! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us

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Old 02-12-2010, 05:12 AM   #6
Sherpa-ing around
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Great RR............
I'd rather die living than live dying.

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Old 02-12-2010, 12:46 PM   #7
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Yamaha 350... Flat City?
Great photos.
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:42 PM   #8
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Joined: Nov 2008
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Looks like a good trip. Those hills are amazing. I plan to ride them one day. Thanks for sharing and showing that part of the world.
Where's my mango?!
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Old 02-13-2010, 02:10 AM   #9
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Outstanding ride report. Hope to see Africa in person some day.
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Old 02-13-2010, 03:35 AM   #10
Dr LC8
...soon or later
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I wish one day...


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Old 02-13-2010, 04:07 AM   #11
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Just a great report

Rugged country to travel. Thanks for the fine report.

If you can only see two continents in your life see Africa Twice.
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Old 02-13-2010, 06:33 AM   #12
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Joined: Apr 2007
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Hey guys,
Thanks for doing the ride report for me. It turned out great. I bet 99% of people reading this will have no idea what "arriving storos" means, though
'06 KTM 525 EXC
'12 KTM 500 XC-W
'12 KTM 300 XC-W

Ethiopia Trip 2010
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Old 02-13-2010, 08:48 AM   #13
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Location: Kayseri, TR
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Awesome ride guys!

I've been to Addis twice before and this is the time that I am thinking about my third trip by motorbike to visit the whole country.

Perfect timing for my question:

Unfortunately I do not have much time to ride down all the way from Turkiye to Ethiopia. All the plan is ready though...

Do you think it is possible to find some rental bikes for about 2 weeks???
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Old 02-13-2010, 09:15 AM   #14
treepawpaw OP
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Joined: Apr 2007
Location: Arusha, Tanzania
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My good friend in Addis runs a Motorcycle tour business that is top notch. His name is Flavio, and his website is He doesn't rent his bikes but you could check with him about doing a trip. (mention my name) He uses KTM 690's. I may be able to even join you for at least some of your ride. I am in the states now til July though. It is a fantastic country for riding.

Originally Posted by duroturk
Awesome ride guys!

I've been to Addis twice before and this is the time that I am thinking about my third trip by motorbike to visit the whole country.

Perfect timing for my question:

Unfortunately I do not have much time to ride down all the way from Turkiye to Ethiopia. All the plan is ready though...

Do you think it is possible to find some rental bikes for about 2 weeks???
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Old 02-13-2010, 09:16 AM   #15
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Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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I just edited the first post to add a map of our route, if anyone's interested.
'06 KTM 525 EXC
'12 KTM 500 XC-W
'12 KTM 300 XC-W

Ethiopia Trip 2010
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