"Cleanliness becomes more important when godliness is unlikely" - P. J. O'Rourke.
Bale NP was too far to drive in one day and we made for the city of Awassa on Lake Awassa purely as a stopover. Here we were unsure where to stay but had a couple of pointers. We first went back to Abre Minch to refuel and to draw money from an ATM. Here we found that our 4 cards (both Visa and Mastercard, as well as credit and debit cards) would not work and went into the Dschen Bank to change US$. The procedure was very painstaking and time consuming.
We were taking some relatively minor routes on this day but it all worked out well. Initially the tarred road north to Soda travels along the edge of Lake Abaya. After Soda one turns east on a relatively minor dirt road which was chosen by T4A as the quickest route. This road is under major reconstruction and we heard later that it is going to be tarred all the way. The detours were rough and initially it was slow going through a very rural part of Ethiopia. About 80km from Awassa we reached the long final descent from the southern highlands into the Central Rift Valley. The view here was as good as any we had seen on our entire trip. There are steep drop-offs not only to the north and south, but also to the east as we drove along the crest of the mountains. Absolutely stunning. The view is probably best at N06 57,654 E38 06, 526. This was once again the road less travelled.
After almost 2 weeks of travelling in the west in Kenya’s Lake Turkana area and then the Omo area of Ethiopia, we finally joined the Great North Road, which we could have followed directly from Nairobi and Nanyuki. Our diversion to the west was absolutely worth it and we were proud to have it under our belts. We first tried to find the Awassa Adenium Guesthouse which came highly recommended but found that it had closed. It really not easy finding our way through the very minor and confusing roads of Awassa which is a large and busy city. We resorted to plan B which was camping at the Old Zewed Village Hotel on the shores of Lake Awassa. This was old information but we had the GPS points. After initial difficulties and enquiring at the smart resort next door we were directed to an un-signposted turnoff next door through an unprepoposing rusty corrugated iron gate. It turns out that this very rundown resort had changed hands and was in the early stages of some sort of revamping. It is now named Progress International Resort Hotel but believe me we were most grateful to finally find somewhere to camp. We were directed to set up camp in a grassed area in the very large grounds and were given a shabby room with adequate flush toilet and warm shower to use. The treed property is right on Lake Awassa and certainly has great potential. There were fish eagles about and also some colobus monkeys but quite frankly it was late in the day and we were only interested in setting up camp, showering, preparing and eating supper and then hitting the sack. We had more than enough privacy and this was also a good few notches up from car park camping. I would certainly recommend this place for those looking to overnight but please you must realize that this was only in context of the generally shabby Ethiopian conditions. The GPS co-ords for the entrance gate are N07 02,873 E38 27,640. If you are looking for more upmarket rooms to sleep in try the Lewi Resort next door which has secure parking, costs US$55 for double room, 39US$ for single.
COSTS for camping were Birr 150 (USD8)pppn.
Main, Campsite at Awassa. 037