Fisherman, Lake Hayk, Ethiopia

Birds, Birds, Birds, sorry not the ones in bikinis!

| Ethiopia

After a morning service at Lalibella main stone church, Dieter and Juliana take the lead and chug their massive tank of a truck back down the mountain to the main road. Pulling this old super truck through the mountains ranges at an average of 2500 meters above sea level is quite difficult. At times Dieter would throw the old girl into first and then tether between first and second to chug up a steep section of the road. Cruising at 15 kilometres per hour I couldn’t hover behind them any more and would quickly accelerate and pull in front,and within seconds I had lost them behind my small dust trail.


Dieter and Juliana’s truck coming up the hill.

I’ve learnt from previous experiences when travelling with a camper you need to stick behind them or you quickly get excited and forget they cannot travel as fast. So, at the top of a hill, I would stop and take out my camera and be ready for when they arrived.


The Grandmother of these kids came out of the hut and asked for medicine to fix her blind eyes.  I tried to explain that’s part of getting old and no medicine could help.

While standing next to my bike waiting for Dieter and Juliana to arrive, I would promptly have a few locals come up to me with their cows and donkeys and start asking for birr (money) once again. I was so fed up with one particular kid asking for money, pens or clothing, I picked up his foot and removed one of his sweaty plastic shoes and stuck it under the elastic cargo net I had on the back of my bike. Pretending I forgot about it, I would carry on taking photos or talking to the locals, this would temporarily confuse the child and gave me the effect I was after, silence. It wasn’t long before he would work up some courage and under my watchful eye, work his shoe loose from the elastic net. When Dieter finally arrived, I would move on closely behind them, trying hard to keep out of the billowing dust cloud that the four monster wheels would kick up.

Here is just some of the people I was talking too, including the boy in front who’s shoe I took.

Passing through the large town of Wolida, I as usual, have to stop for petrol. The first place I came to only sold Diesel. The second petrol station had run out of petrol and the third one had just filled up the last tuk tuk. This is a huge town surely someone must have a few litres of black-market fuel. Sure enough a boy comes running over to me. ‘You want Benzin? You want Benzin?’ ‘Yes’ I replied ‘how much per litre?’ Now the standard rate at the petrol station is 20 birr per litre ($1.25 USD), on the black-market you can normally get it for around 25 birr per litre ($1.50 USD) so when the boy said ‘30birr ($1.80 USD)’ I was shocked. I laughed and said ‘I’ll take 10 litres at 25 birr, no more! It’s the usual black-market price’. The boy laughs back and said ‘No, 30 birr’, shrugs his shoulders and walks back to his spot in the shade. Damn you guys for trying to rip off foreigners. I looked behind me and saw I was still carrying 4 litres of fuel in my fuel bladder. Perfect, at least I don’t have to support their exorbitant fees and am able to carry on for at least another 100 kilometers.

I had been given a tip about a camp site on the shores of Lake Hayk. Driving down to the shore in search of the camp site we passed a stream of cars kicking up dust into my face. I couldn’t shut the visor as it was already caked in a thick layer, I just had to bear dust slapping my face and taking the occasional mouth full.
I was beginning to wonder what I had suggested to Dieter and Juliana, but they seemed pretty keen to carry on. Arriving at the end of the road, we just stopped the vehicles and stared at birds as tall as me, congregating on the shores of the most beautiful lake. Wow, the tip paid off and here we were in the heart of a bird sanctuary and the wedding party had just left, hence why we passed so many cars coming into this area.

We nestled the big truck and my motorcycle down by the shores of the lake and I pitched my tent in the dark. I woke in the morning to the sounds of the fishermen checking their nets before heading out on a boat made from reeds lashed together with a bit of rope, to try and set their nets in a semi circle before chasing the tiny fish into the enclosure. Apparently the boats become water logged after a couple hours, therefore they have to return to shore and let the boats dry out before trying again tomorrow.

As soon as the fishermen had finished, we sat down at Dieters table and watched the herds of cows come down to the shore, one by one in their small groups along with their herder, to take a drink from the lake. It was just a crazy phenomenon, having cows standing taller than you’re sitting, wandering all around you while you are spreading boiled eggs on your toast!

This is a great place to resting up, while drawing some cartoons in my sketch book.

My view from my cabana, another favourite place to sit while sketching.

Sorry, I couldn’t stand next to one, but seriously these birds are massive! Almost the height of me.

Early morning fishing for a beautiful King Fisher.

The early morning fishing, noticed the boat is just reeds lashed together?

Sun rise over Lake Hayk

We nestled the big truck and my motorcycle down by the shores of the lake and I pitched my tent in the dark. I woke in the morning to the sounds of the fishermen checking their nets before heading out on a boat made from reeds lashed together with a bit of rope, to try and set their nets in a semi circle before chasing the tiny fish into the enclosure. Apparently the boats become water logged after a couple hours, therefore they have to return to shore and let the boats dry out before trying again tomorrow.

As soon as the fishermen had finished, we sat down at Dieters table and watched the herds of cows come down to the shore, one by one in their small groups along with their herder, to take a drink from the lake. It was just a crazy phenomenon, having cows standing taller than you’re sitting, wandering all around you while you are spreading boiled eggs on your toast! Between the herds of cows, we sat sipping our coffees watching the different flocks of birds flying over. Today, our plan was to drive the remaining 400 kilometres to Addis, the capital of Ethiopia but plans change like the wind and we decided to stay here watching the wild life for the day.