Bahir Dar & Gondar

The direct flight from Toronto to Addis Ababa was nearly 14 hours. After spending one day in a groggy haze of tired jet-lag and another rebuilding my bike and then ironically stashing it away, I left Addis for a week of classic non-bike touring. My friend from school days in Nigeria, Steven Olson of Ethio Guzo, had arranged a whirlwind tour of northern Ethiopia for me to catch some of the historical and religious sites that define the country before we go biking later in the month.

The first stop was Bahir Dar where I was able to visit a church and a monastery on Lake Tana and then take a hike to the nearby Blue Nile Falls. Lake Tana is commonly considered the source of the Blue Nile, although my guide for the visit to the monastery asserted that the river passed through the lake from a source further upstream.

The second stop was the old imperial capital of Gondar where I got a look around the impressive castles built in the 1600s by emperor Fasilides and his sons and grandsons. Unfortunately, during World War II the Italian army occupied the castles and British bombardment destroyed much of the structures. However, what remains is still impressive. I was also able to visit the old Debre Birhan Selassie church and take in some liturgical reading.

This is Holy Week — the week leading up to Easter — so there have been many people at the churches and the monastery praying and reading. So far this religious experience has been the highlight for me. It’s not often in the US that we get to see an active religious tradition with such ancient and deeply felt roots. My next stop will continue on this theme with a visit to the old churches of Lalibela.

Next week I’ll be back in Addis and then start some actual bike touring in western Ethiopia with Steven.

Note: unfortunately my laptop is showing signs of a failing hard drive so it may be a little while before I’m able to post the next update.

Thanks for following along.





In Transit




  1. TheBigOz

    Biking aside, wish I could have been there for the mini Hillcrest reunion. Have some injera for me.

  2. I’ll be in the country for another four weeks, come on down. :)

  3. Jørgen Stig Jensen

    Hey Steve.
    Very beautiful pictures. The bridge on image 16 and 17 must be the one Indiana Jones cut in half in the second Indiana Jones film back in the 80’s?!
    Your invitation to come on down and share the experience with you draws me like a bee to a blossoming flower and I would be on my way if not my boss, my wife and kids and my bank account said no!
    Have a nice trip.

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