So, I’m packing for Ethiopia. This time next week, I’ll be trekking with five friends somewhere in the Simien Mountains. I think this particular trip is going to push me way out of my comfort zone – not least because, as far as we can see, no other Westerners have taken this route.
Mad as it sounds, we found the path through a random search on Google Earth. But, I’m happy to report that my clever companions have researched it carefully, despite the fact the only map we can find is a dated Russian version. We’ll start at Chenek, but unlike most itineraries we’ll veer off via Mebruq to Telba Midir and then down to the Avera River where we’ll cross the Tekezze Dam.
It’ll be tough terrain, but we’re taking a guide, several mules carrying tents and a guard with a Kalashnikov – whom I’m hoping is more job-creation than necessity.
And, yes, as I look at the mounds of anti-dysentery tablets, fungal creams and blister treatments waiting to be stowed in my backpack I’m wondering if there’s some way I can wriggle out of the whole crazy thing. But, while it’s daunting it’s also exhilarating.
In this over-connected world, I love the idea that I might get a small sense of what it was like once to be a pioneer. It’s a huge adventure in wild and stunning scenery and will, hopefully, give us a rich experience of the natural environment and remote village life.
Nevertheless, I’m having sleepless nights. This trek is far more Bear-Grylls-meets-Sherpa-Tenzing than I had anticipated. But somehow it has gained a momentum that is impossible to stop…