Distance: 172km (Cumulative: 14 549km)
Moving time: 3:20
Average speed: 54km/h
Road surface: 100% Tar
L-Shape Hotel - R80 p.p
Good location, clean sheets
We didn’t set an alarm, but got up around 07:00. Caro was still not feeling well, but we packed up and had a quick scrambled egg and toast breakfast for R22.
We then walked to the bus station without being harassed. Only at the last moment did 5 touts jump around us shouting Gondar. We separated ourselves from them and luckily just one guy followed. We went to his minibus, his price was also the official local price of 70 birr. Once in the back seat some other guy who probably doesn’t even work for the minibus driver/owner claimed we needed to pay 50 birr per bag, we refused and started to climb out when the first guy that spotted us said it’s fine, we don’t have to pay extra.
We waited a short while for the full bus to fill up to Ethiopian standards. For most of the journey there were 18 people in the 10 seater minibus with up to 21 people for a short distance.
We got out before the bus station in Gonder and thus avoided any potential touts. We found a bajaj after a few meters who took us to the L Shape Hotel for 30 birr without having to fight for it. At the hotel we got in ‘unnoticed’ and went to reception by ourselves. The hotel gave us a good room for 280 birr, the official price. So far so good for Gonder.
We went down for lunch and ordered shiro with bread and tibs fir fir – our first meat dish in Ethiopia. The tibs is cooked meat with day old injera soak in sauce. Both dishes were spicy but tasted quite good. We also had the most delicious Maciatto. After finishing all the meat Caro however discovered maggots on the plate. Not a good sign, especially since we forgot medicine for food poisoning or normal diarrhoea in Nairobi.
During lunch a Dutch couple came in and asked us whether we are the people who are also interested in doing a 3 day hike in the Simien Mountains. We immediately said no, it’s not us, besides we don’t even have hiking shoes or anything.
Since we however came to Gonder earlier we actually have a few extra days if we don’t just want to sit in an hotel all day. We thus took their number before going to the Castle.
We got a Bajaj again, but the guy thought we wanted to go to the Ethiopian Airlines office so he first stopped there before we pointed to the Castle and said no over there.
We entered the Castle complex for 200 birr each, again without anyone trying to sell us a tour or something. The castles have been preserved (or restored) really well and is well worth the visit. We took our time to walk through the different castles, palaces and churches. It started raining, but there was enough hiding space. As quick as it started it stopped again.
We then went looking for a Pharmacy. We found two, but both only had generic antibiotics and nothing specifically for potential diarrhoea or food poisoning. We ended up not buying anything. We found another juice bar and ordered a plain Avocado juice and a mixed juice.
The Avocado juice is basically just like a glass full of Avocado puree that you eat with a spoon. In the time we sat there about 10 locals also ordered just plain Avocado juice, so it was the thing to do.
We almost finished our juice when we spotted another faranji (foreigner) and invited him to sit down. Ervin is a Bosnian who grew up in Germany and spent a year volunteering in Malmesbury in South Africa. So he could speak Afrikaans like a Cape Coloured which was really entertaining to us.
We talk for almost an hour about all kinds of stuff, but he also tried to convince us to do a Simien Tour. According to him that and the Danakil depression are the two main things to do, especially if the towns and cities are not really your thing.
We agreed to meet for dinner later and went back to our hotel. At the Hotel we talked to their in-house guide about a day trip to the Simiens, but he didn’t recommend it. He then called the guide that the Dutch couple is using to try and get us a discount. He gave a good price and we decided to just go for it. Caro with only her sandals.
For dinner we met Ervin at the Four Sisters restaurant which comes highly recommended in most guides. We shared a large plate of Injera with more than 15 toppings. It was meant for two people, but the three of us couldn’t finish it.
We were the last customers, when the waiter said we must go the rain is coming. We thought it was just a polite excuse to get rid of us, but on the way back to the hotel we saw other people just running. We also started running, but seconds later a wall of rain came down and we were almost instantly soaked. We took cover under a veranda and then ran to a Bajaj who took us to the hotel just 500m further.
With the crazy storm raging outside we had serious doubts about our decision to go hiking in the mountains tomorrow. The whole cities power was out so we couldn’t even get a hot shower or charge anything.
Luckily neither of us had any serious stomach problems yet, but we still had a funny feeling. Either from being nervous about the hike or from lunch.