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Ethiopia. Slept on road to Moyale border, Friday 4 December. Week 30, day 230.



"Every crowd has a silver lining". P. J. Barnum.


Despite the expensive park entry fees we had been forced to pay to sleep at Awash NP gate, we did not even have time to enter the park, also no room for the compulsory guard. However before leaving we did spot a Besia oryx, a new subspecies for us and the first oryx (gemsbok) we had seen since leaving Botswana. Superficially I could see no difference between them.

There had been a head-on collision between 2 trucks up one of the passes and truck traffic was backed up for quite a few kms. However I had developed the thick skin of local drivers and just squeezed my way through. The long line of trucks made one realized how heavily they utilize this route. We drove past the new 3 lane expressway to Addis (that we had utilized when on our way north) and headed for Nazret. From Awassa south to the border town of Moyale, the road is terrible with huge, frequent potholes and diversions where the Chinese are constructing a new road. As happens any maintenance on the old road ceases and the Chinese do not seem overly concerned by the poor state of the diversions. This very bad stretch of road turned out to be almost 200km long and took us 6hr 30min, excluding the overnight stop. It is going to take a number of years to complete and will only deteriorate further in the interim. No trucks use this road at all. I suppose they use the more easterly routes via Shashamene, Arba Minch and Konzo to and from Addis.

We were heading hell for leather towards Kenya and just gritted our teeth and ploughed on. I had no idea the road to Moyale was in this unacceptable state. Fortunately other travelers in this area would probably turn off along this route to head for the Omo region, already visited by us via the Lake Turkana route. Evening was approaching and it was becoming difficult for us to envisage where to overnight. The area had become far more tropical, green, hilly and densely populated and with the propensity of Ethiopians to grant you no privacy, we could not find a suitable place to bush camp. After 11hr and 440km and at about 18H00, in desperation I turned in to the entrance gate to a modern looking bottled water factory named Sky Water. The gatekeeper could understand some English and off he went to ask the manager if we could overnight on the enclosed large property. The manager fortunately was a moslem, with their belief in the religious obligation to help travelers. He welcomed us and we set up camp at one side of the car park in garden-like surroundings. We were incredibly lucky to find such a secure and comfortable place with privacy. I cannot imagine what sort of night we would have had along the densely populated roadside. As it was the factory shifts were changing and we gave the very inquisitive factory workers the standard tour of our getup. They proved very friendly and soon left us in peace after first supplying us with some of their bottled water. Never have a few beers and the pasta dish rustled up by Anne, gone down better. Just in case others end up in a similar predicament here are some details. The factory is at N06 11,443 E38 12,304, just south of the villages of Dilla and Wanago.


Main. Our campsite at the bottled water factory.

Thumbs. Two pics of a vanished causeway into Lake Baseke south of Awash NP.