Part 2 of our Ethiopian adventure covers our trip through the city of Gonder and the Simien Mountains.
Gonder was founded in 1635 and has a huge cluster of 17th century castles and palaces right in the middle of town. We spent an entire day exploring these and the churches nearby. In particular, the amazingly decorated church of Debre Birhan Selassie built in the 1690s.
Some rules for church visitors…
The ceiling is decorated with 80 painted cherub faces.
Honey wine. #Delicious!
Emporer Fasilidas’s Pool is dry most of the year and only filled for the annual Timkat ceremony in January. The pool is filled only by redirecting one of the nearby streams, and they were only a few days in when we visited.
Just next door a local soccer match was in full swing, so our pool tour had a great soundtrack of Shakira’s “Waka Waka”…
The Royal Enclosure has six 17th century castles and loads of tunnels to explore.
The first time the colours green, yellow and red were found being used together. If you hadn’t noticed, these are now the colours on the Ethiopian flag.
Castle through a keyhole…
Cow horns used as towel hooks in the “sauna” room.
The extent of the tourists. Three of which are Ethiopian, and one of them was our guide.
What a juxtaposition. A medieval castle in the middle of modern Gonder.
The kids here freaking love having their photo taken! They’ll come hurtling down the street screaming “Faranji! Faranji!” (Foreigner! Foreigner!), and thought it was halarious when we screamed “Habesha! Habesha!” (Ethiopian! Ethiopian!) back at them.
About 100km north of Gonder we hit the dramatic Simien Mountains, one of the biggest ranges in Africa. more than 12 of the peaks are above 4000m! The altitude can take it out of you, and a short walk can turn you into a heavy-breathing-chunder-machine…. Luckily we only experienced mild symptoms.
I want a Gelada baboon! They look like they just climbed out of a bad 80s music video with their flowing David Lee Roth (Van Halen) hair doos. They have these amazing weathered faces and a freakishly inteligent look in their eyes.
These guys graze on wild tyme in herds of up to 400 baboons! They are so chilled and not even in the slightest bit concerned about us hanging around and grazing with them. We spent about 2 hours just sitting amoungst the herd, watching and listening. This was probably one of the most awesome new years eves we have ever had!
Haile Gabre Selassie is an Ehtiopian long distance running legend! He’s smashed world records, won Olympic gold medals and still lives in home town of Addis Ababa.