17-Mar-2004 -- This is the first visit of a three-confluence hunt in Ethiopia. On March 13, 2004 our trip to Ethiopia started. We flew to Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa and took public buses in northern direction. Our main purpose was to get to know the country – the visit of confluence points was planned only if they would lay on our route. Not that we didn't prepare the visit of CPs carefully: In Berlin's public library I was able to get some copies of Russian topographic maps in a scale of 1:100,000 and 1:200,000. The bureaucratic library system allowed only a maximum of 10 copies during each visit. With 2 visits of the library I had 20 DIN A2 maps – covering about 4% of Ethiopia. The tourist maps come in scales like 1:2,5 Mio, thus are not much of a help.
On our way from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar, the road passed as close as 3.7 km from the CP near a village named K'eranyo. We assumed an easy and quick visit. In the middle of nowhere we got off the bus - causing a big surprise for the other passengers who couldn't figure what we intended to do. Going through my maps, I had to understand that just the map covering 11N 38E was missing! That error has no real excuse but the bad official overview-map from Berlin's library, making a selection of the right maps impossible. Well, that was not so important - with the landscape consisting of rolling hills it wouldn't be a problem to get access to the point. The dry season (Sep – Apr) was at its peak. The crops were not yet planted and the fields not ploughed, so we could roam freely and chose the beeline to the CP. Some kids in continuous chat with us accompanied us for quite a while, but this is Ethiopia: You are never alone.
Our smooth approach to the CP had a sudden unpredicted interrupt at a distance of 1 km. We stood at the edge of a deep canyon (a side valley of the Abay, known as the Blue Nile), it could easily be over 1000 m between the river and the edge. Our GPS pointed down to the valley – we were guessing that the CP could be halfway down. Without bringing climbing gear all we could do was to hike along the edge. After a 1.5 km hike right at the precipice, we were surprised to see that two women carrying firewood were coming up the valley! The friendly women showed us the way down: An incredibly steep path – actually a dangerous climb, including parts on wooden ladders. Actually this was risky, especially with carrying our complete gear. But once you got so far, you got to keep going.
We managed the climb down and reached a small village consisting of a couple of round shaped wooden houses. The people of that very archaic looking place were surprised to see us. The priest of the church was called immediately and we were guided to his church. As another man who came with us looked like having a leprosy disease, he refused to shake hands with us because of his sickness – but later, in his excitement, he did touch us a lot. After a visit of the church we tried to explain that we would like to visit a point further down. Since nobody would understand a word in English, this was a difficult thing to do. Two guys were sent with us (I guess in order to control the two strangers). The further down we got, the less happy they seemed. Finally it looked like they really didn't want us to go further.
But anyway: Another steep, almost vertical section lay ahead of us. Our GPS showed that we had still 635 m to go. Within the last 2 hours we had advanced towards our goal only 300 m in distance and also in height. Our new estimation was that the point is probably exactly in the deepest part down – or even up on the other side of the canyon. Time to give up. Otherwise, we would have gotten into the night, which is no good idea without camping gear. We got back to the road just before dusk and hiked 1 km further to the village called K'eranyo. Luckily we got a ride to the next town named Mot'a.
For a successful visit of this CP we recommend to hire a local guide who knows the area and is able to deal with the locals. The story continues at 12N 38E.