Video and Photo Epic: Five Tips for Riding Ethiopia's Simien Mountains

Nov 4, 2015
by Giro Sport Design  
Why Bringing a Bike to Ethiopia’s Highlands May (Or May Not) Be a Good Idea

bigquotesThere are three things in life you cannot change: when you were born, the environment you were born in, and the talents you were born with. - Getachew Enyew

Views: 9,483    Faves: 79    Comments: 8


I’ve never been to Africa before. When I was invited on a trip to Ethiopia in the winter of 2015 with a cast of varied characters, my mind was full of images I’d seen of the country on TV as a child: famine, little kids crying and wasteland. The exhausting journey from the west coast of North America to the east side of Africa gave me plenty of time to immerse my mind with uneducated and misinformed expectations, a bit of fear and images of a time Ethiopia has since forgotten. Why would anyone bring a bike to Ethiopia? There had to be a good reason for what we had committed to and we were going to find it. I didn’t have a list of things to help me prepare for my journey, so I put one together for anyone who might be thinking of trying this on their own time:

Ethiopia
Sarah Leishman and Kamil Tartarkovic on the first descent of their 8-day Ethiopian adventure.

1. Hire a guide who knows a guy.

Our plan was to circumnavigate Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains by bike, hitting Ethiopia’s highest peak en route (Ras Deshen - 4550m), and we chose Tom Bodkin, owner/operator of Secret Compass to show us the way. Tom had been here before, but more importantly, he knew Getachew “Getch” Enyew. Getch and his buddy Szamon are locals in this area and knew most of the folks we ran into across our 8-day journey through Ethiopia’s backcountry. The value of a guide can’t be understated on a trip like this: Ethiopia’s first language is Amharic (not English). While Ethiopia is safe in a cultural/political sense, it is really, really difficult to navigate on your own and actually dangerous in terms of the remoteness and ruggedness of where we were spending the majority of our time.

Tom arranged for our group of seven to travel with Getch’s assembled support crew. The travel here is as rough as it gets and the locals who helped us along the way were absolute ninjas on foot. Traveling alongside them made for more than a few soul-crushing realizations about what our bike’s limitations truly were without an actual mountain bike trail to ride. We were quickly made aware of what the human body can sustain (and what it can’t) along the way.

Of everyone on this trip, each one of us was qualified us to handle almost anything that came our way. Having a guide with extensive experience in countries like Ethiopia, however, was what we needed to survive just a few of the following challenges:

- Acute gastrointestinal distress with no access to running water (and rapid transport to local communities as a result),
- Facial lacerations and required medical attention
- Financial arrangements, trip planning and negotiations between locals and National Park authorities.

Dan Milner images from trip to Ethiopia.
(Left) Dareje Adera - we met him on a mountain pass at nearly 4000 meters. (Center) Molla - national Park scout. (Right) Getch - the guide. Getch had all of the qualities you look for in a guide: a great sense of humor, strong fitness and patience with our group!

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Ramsey - the chef.
Bread making for the crew
Bread making for the crew.


2. Get yourself sorted before you leave.

Vaccinations: You’ll need vaccinations for Yellow Fever and a few others to be safe. I was told I couldn’t get in and out of Ethiopia without a Yellow Fever Card – it was only kind of true, because no one at any border ever asked me for it, but I am glad I had it just in case whichever country I was flying home via requested it for entry. My local doctor went over all of the vaccination considerations and $500CAD later, I was protected against a few key (nightmarish) diseases.

Gear: Refer to point 1. If your guy who knows a guy has you covered, bring the obvious basics (drink bag with a 3L bladder. Pump, tires, spares... whatever you can carry on your back without looking like a professional photographer/filmer unless you are one). Don’t expect to find many replacement parts in Ethiopia. Seriously, a broken handlebar or taco’d rear wheel here could spell the end of your trip. And don’t plan on filtering water from streams/ponds as you travel – I can’t recall seeing more than one body of water I would have been willing to filter and subsequently drink out of, so this can be a huge part of how you manage yourself and your group.

Drugs: Ethiopian airports are full of signs that graphically illustrate the symptoms of the Ebola virus. They’re especially careful to keep people entering the country informed of the symptoms because Ethiopia is Ebola free and they’d really like to keep it that way. This means that your temperature is checked at the gate of every incoming/outgoing domestic and international flight – so you’d best do what you can to avoid a fever if you plan on flying home! Having a small medicine cabinet of your favorite over-the-counters is key out here. Keep in mind that the local cuisine can wreak havoc on a delicate first-world gut – the consequence of running it loose with what you eat here is real...and (potentially) disgusting.

Ethiopian hospital
Dain Zaffke getting stitches in Gondar. Tom Bodkin is lighting the surgery with his camp flashlight. The sutures were course and fibrous (like yarn), but did the job!

First night camp at 3600m
First night camp at 3600m.
Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.

Camp at 3700m
Camping at the edge of the Abyss.


3. Hang out with the kids.

I don’t know the actual statistics of the ratio of kids to adults in Ethiopia, but I can comfortably state that there are many, many children roaming the expansive terrain of the Simien Mountains. Their faces would light up as we passed through their villages and the sheer volume of rad little humans engaging us with smiles and persistent requests for “Bic? Bic?” (pens - they ask for them so much that I began to suspect that they weren’t truly demanding these in lieu of money, it was just how they knew they’d be able to connect with us) became pretty overwhelming over the course of 8 days.

The kids are beautiful - heartbreakingly so – and they’re so happy. My first-world ego whispered to me that they needed to be rescued to the comforts of drywall homes and data plans, but the reality is that they’re stoked to be alive, they were stoked to see us (we were freaks on bikes in the middle of the Ethiopian Highlands) and they were way faster than us out there.

bike building under a watchful gaze
Bike building under a watchful gaze.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Sarah Leishman & Kamil Tartarkovic with some new friends.
Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Word travels fast in places like rural Ethiopia, we were amazed at how quickly crowds like this formed.


4. Bring a good pair of shoes...

...Because you’re gonna spend a healthy amount of time on foot. I came to this trip all prepped with chamois cream (I’d never used it before but, I figured I'd need it here?) and fixes for my Reverb should something tragic happen to it along the way, but in the end, I didn’t do a ton of saddle time. None of us did.

On the first few days, we were treated to climbs of about 1000m beginning at 3500m or so; there was definitely a bit of time spent grinding away on our bikes on roads and in tussock grasses. I liked riding up the roads, chasing down Aaron Gulley (from Santa Fe and certainly at an advantage over those of us who live at sea level), Dain Zaffke and Kamil Tartarkovic. We all figured that the time we put in during those early days of our expedition would be earning us massive, epic descents...but it didn’t. While we did have moments of ripping singletrack glory scattered between baboons, mulemen and bright-eyed children, our time was heavily outweighed with long hours of bikes on our backs ascending and descending the gnarly terrain locals use as thoroughfares between remote villages.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Dain Zaffke on one of many hour-long hike-a-bikes.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Tom Bodkin, Aaron Gulley and, Kamil Tartarkovic summiting Mount Ras Dejen.

Mount Ras Dejen - top of Ethiopia at 4543m
Mount Ras Dejen - top of Ethiopia at 4543m.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Sarah Leishman & Kamil Tartarkovic enjoy the reward from summiting over 4500m.


5. Prepare to dig deep and learn a lot about yourself.

I did not, for one second, expect to find my trip to Ethiopia an easy one. In fact, I can say that I had really overblown expectations about the famine and poverty I expected to see and experience. Despite the approachability of people in this region of the world and the fact that none of us died without cell reception, permanent buildings, walls around toilets and the usual comforts of home, this was the most difficult thing I have done with my bike to date. The elevation of the area coupled with the demoralizing reality of on-our-bikes-and-off-again type of travel and the lack of clean, running water taught me a level of psychological coping that I couldn’t have imagined before. We started off strong and were worn down to near shells of ourselves by the end of it all.

The Simien National Park is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site but is still densely populated by people who live off of its scarce, protected land. We were never alone, and while we entered some really dark places in our minds and bodies on the bigger days of our journey, there wasn’t a lot of quiet time to totally lose it or come unglued – even when each of us hit points when we almost needed to. There were eyes on us always and there were days when it felt as if being alone again was a permanent impossibility.

What was the benefit of burning through 5-hour hike-a-bikes in 35 degree Celsius heat day in and day out?

- Perspective – my base understanding for anything difficult has been permanently altered.
- Good jokes with great people, good jokes with people who don’t even speak the same language.
- A glimpse into a beautiful, peaceful culture of people who opened their doors to us with massive smiles, amazing dance moves and the physical prowess you’d expect from a superhuman marathoner.
- A trip we will never, ever forget.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Sarah Leishman & Tom Bodkin making the best of their first "bath" of the trip.
Washing chance no.2 out of 2 in 8 days.
Tom Bodkin taking advantage of washing chance no.2 out of 2 in 8 days.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Kamil Tartarkovic, Dain Zaffke and, Aaron Gulley rolling into camp.

Gelada baboons in Ethiopia
Gelada Baboons.
Gelada baboons in Ethiopia

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Sarah Leishman getting accustomed to the arid soil and high elevation. Oddly, the higher we traveled into the Simiens, the better the conditions.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Sarah Leishman & Dain Zaffke.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Kamil Tartarkovic & Aaron Gulley.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Dain Zaffke - and, yes, that's a scarf. Our guides awarded us these scarves when we summited Ras Dashen. They offered more protection than sunblock and as a bonus, they featured Ethiopia's colors (aka Rasta colors).

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.
Khat leaves and coffee- legal stimulants
Khat leaves and coffee- legal stimulants.

Last night party and Ethiopian dancing
Last night party and Ethiopian dancing.

Images by Dan Milner from Giro s trip to Ethiopia.

Would we do it again?
- Maybe.

Sarah Leishman ( @SarahLeishman ) is a member of the Juliana-SRAM pro team and balances her time between training and racing with writing and working a real job. She lives in Whistler, BC.

Check out Dan Milner's whole album from Ethiopia here.


MENTIONS: @GiroSportDesign / @DanMilner / @SarahLeishman / #ethiopiaepic




71 Comments

  • + 46
 I would add one more thing on your list and that is do a recon trip. I live in Ethiopia and there is a ton to do and see besides mountain biking. I have also planned far off adventures as well some that I have succeeded and others still waiting to be done. For those that are waiting to be done now I know I will succeed the next time as I have on the ground experience.

Living in Ethiopia and actually going to the Simiens I now know it is not the best place to ride in Ethiopia. No doubt for sure it was a grand adventure, but there some much better places to go on a bike in Ethiopia than the Simiens.

Another comment I have, the one hanging out with the children. My experience is that it is sometimes best to seek out your elders. They are generally respected in villages and they will make your life much easier and make sure that you are taken care of, unless of course you village elder is a lazy drunk, then you are f*cked. The look of the village can tell you about how you will be treated. And whatever you do, do not do free hand outs (money or candies or anything else), all this ever does breeds begging. Of course tipping or paying for service no matter how small is respectable.

That is my 2cents, and one other tip, if you come to Ethiopia plan a few days to ride Menagesha it is the bomb. Other places to check out Wenchi Crater and Mt. Zuqualla. My next big adventure will be either riding the Bale Plateau or follow the camel trains from Mekele down into Afar. Whatever you are thinking about just do it, whether you succeed or fail it will be an adventure.
  • + 0
 in summary, you need a guide equipped with an AK.
  • + 3
 No not really, but in a lot of the parks they require you to have guards. Guides are different, and they usually require you to have them as well. I find it annoying as I like to go on my own and winging it. Here in Ethiopia, they don't understand that and part of it is for good reason as there some areas in this country you would probably go 'missing' without one. There is some pretty wild areas in this country. The flip side of the coin you provide work to people who struggle to eek out an existence.
  • + 19
 I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable riding my bike that's a product of both a necessity to riding, which is a beautiful way to connect with nature, but also a product of consumer culture and capitalism. Here is such a glaring clear example of the inequality in our world. These happy, but economically poor children witnessing a sport that will likely only ever be a fantasy, a dream never to be realised.
I grew up in a poor area of the UK, and mountain biking was something I always fantasised about as a youth. I would go down the road to the local bike shop and stare at the bikes I literally dreamed of riding, but could not afford. Fortunately I live in a country with more opportunity, but at what cost? I now know in my 3rd year of environmental science the social and ecological cost of our lifestyles on both the developing and natural world.

Seeing some white westerner, adorned in fresh riding kit on a £4000+ bike being chased by a group of kids in rags in the highlands of Ethiopia is pretty disturbing tbh.
  • + 12
 ....now just put yourself in the shoes of one of those kids who was inspired by seeing this toy he didn't know even existed and the impact it could have on any of those kids lives and ask yourself what he would say about view here, I doubt you meant to but it comes off as you're better than him and you want to protect him like a pet from the world he doesn't get to see....
  • + 3
 Not at all, we're all the same creatures on this planet and of course it'll inspire them just as it would any kid. Also, although I have access to a wide variety of mod cons I might be a lot more miserable. So am I better off? I don't know. My point is how severe the divide is, and that going on expeditions like this can seem like an ostentatious display of wealth even if it's not meant that way. Not so much for the kids, as most kids don't have that level of critical thinking, they'll just see the fun side of things, but more likely for the adults. It's a complicated issue and one that's been with us since the dawn of civilisation.
Why should I have so much when others have so little? What are the implications for developing countries people wanting to live as affluent lifestyles as ours? Clearly I'm not better than someone else because I have more money, or material things. I feel powerless and bad for being part of a society that benefits from others misfortune....
  • + 2
 DirtyLove has the point leading to reality. our church serves with Transformation Love in Addis, these kids don't have food, shoes, parents... Who gives a crap about riding a bike when you're starving to death.
  • + 2
 I've been to poor places to ride my bike or surf I've seen plenty of poverty its horrible, Ive been charitable and then I treat them like people and share the sports I do there w them one person to another, if you plan your trip to a place truly decimated and in suffering thats on you, but we all can travel a short distance from our homes in the states and see homeless people suffering but we still ride or surf or board here too. Many have more than I ever will and far less than I have now. I put my guilt to rest quickly and engage the locals share what I went there to do as much as I can. The only problems I ever had due to my possessions were from those who wanted rob me who were the same ones who rob their own people and increase their suffering.
  • + 14
 Just like most collections of people on the planet, Ethiopians love sport. In fact they are among the leading road bike racers in Africa. There are a bunch of local Ethiopian moto riders too. Yes, Ethiopia is among the poorest countries in the world but has experienced 10% economic growth per year for the past 10 years, and much of this growth has been shared to some extent, more so than most places in the world and in Africa. In terms of environment, Ethiopia has also been experiencing an ecological transformation, with massive land area having been re-greened (this is what I do here). Here is a trailer for a new theatrical not in film festivals and likely to air on BBC later (no US distributor yet): www.ethiopiarising.com/index.html
  • + 5
 Great feedback peeps. Thanks Stifford, when I get time I'll have a good read about more recent developments in Ethiopia as I only know a bit about the war with Italy and the recent geopolitics of the Nile and construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Really fascinating place. And ov3r1d3, you're right, it doesn't matter where we are the problem is still there. I'm from an area in the UK that has quite a large poverty gap. It's just not right, and however charitable we are it doesn't detract from the outdated economic system that's driving inequality....
  • + 5
 Or look at it the other way around: the privileged people who went on this trip with their $4k bicycles were exposed to a culture they might not see otherwise. They were connected for just a little bit to their human brothers from an entirely different culture. They got to see a world that's not all about expensive bikes and modern conveniences, and that the kids still somehow managed to be happy. Maybe it moves them to help in some way. Maybe it will help spread awareness of how others live. Maybe it will inspire just a little bit of conversion in their hearts to be a little bit better human beings. (Not to say that they're bad people).
  • + 1
 Take some bikes for the kids next time maybe. Do some workshops for both mechanical maintenance and basic ride skills. That would make a rad video.
  • + 3
 Well yes and no. Yes there much bigger things to worry about than riding a bike, but giving people a chance to experience something they might never get to normally, is somewhat priceless. Giving people dreams when they don't have any is beautiful thing. Tourism to far off places also provide income to people who need it, sad part is most tour operators only care about money and exploiting cheap labor. Good to do your research before choosing a tour operator.
  • + 1
 @ken4ord glad to have someone who is actually there to give a perspective of what its like beyond a short bike trip, having met plenty of people in poor countries while I work or ride lets you listen to what they say about their situation and experience what they live. I find that most don't want to ride a bike or surf at all but they love being able to interact w people from far away and most are living life the way they always have and want to continue. In my travels most say their daily problems come from how their own people treat each other rather than outside influences....
  • + 3
 @stiffords video is well worth the watch FYI.
  • + 5
 Shooting remote travel stories means I've had this discussion many times. I think the discussion is about rich and poor and capitalist world economy that can only exist with this wealth gap not whether we take our western toys to 'poor' countries. In my view the bike breaks down barriers on these trips, our money gives employment and both locals and visitors emerge with a new idea on the world. You don't have to go far in the uk to find somewhere the locals can't afford a £500 bike let alone a £4000 one but we ride in the uk. I'm not romantic and know I'm privileged but on such trips the value of our bikes is irrelevant to us and the locals. Here's a similar discussion previously: danmilner.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/unleash-the-tirade-is-there-still-a-place-for-travel-focused-features-or-should-we-all-just-ride-the-local-pump-track
  • + 6
 Good idea though in fact I do slideshows from such trips and donate the proceeds to those kind of charities. My shows have paid for 130 bikes through Hans Rey's Wheels4life and the last couple years my Afghan Matt Hunter trip slideshows have donated to build schools in Afghanistan through Central Asia Institute. My latest Ethiopia trip slideshow was seen by the U.K.'s dep ambassador to Ethiopia who thought it was the best advert for the country she'd ever seen. Go to these places. Touris dollars help. See them for yourselves and try to make a difference. I write this from Nepal after going photographing for the Nepal Tiger Trust NGO.
  • + 2
 Thank you very much Dan for putting money where the mouth is
  • + 3
 It all has to do with the attitude you bring. Don't be a condescending self righteous prick, immerse yourself in the local culture by sharing time and experiences with them. Human connection eliminates socio-economic divides in my experiences. I have traveled very little by bike but have traveled fairly extensively for whitewater kayaking. I have found that the poorest communities have been the most welcoming and also the most memorable. I have also found that the poorest communities usually have the happiest humans. Be humble. Be respectful. Be honest. Be happy. And interact with the locals! They don't see the wealth you're flaunting they see your human spirit.
  • + 2
 Feedback from a local friend: "Too much politics and philosophical discussion….for a group of crazy foreigners who just want to have fun!!" I think this sums it up best.
  • + 5
 I've been to Ethiopia once with a medical team to Dhera. The entire trip was incredible to say the least. The landscape is out of this world, the people were the real highlight, they were incredibly friendly and curious, especially being a pale freckled ginger man to say the least. We were always treated with kindness and that country has left an absolute spot in my heart since my visit. I now can only dream to get back and shredding with ken4ord and stuffed!
  • + 3
 Yeah come back and ride with us. We need a doctor (or nurse) in our 3-man riding scene. There are many hospitals who would love to host a capable professional.
  • + 5
 Great hooking up with y'all to show you the riding here around Addis in Menagesha Forest on your last day in country after the Simien trip. Since then we've found Trail 11, our 11th 30-45 minute descent. Fresh headcam here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXobdDtlPMg

Fantastic photos @DanMilner, some of the best I've seen from Ethiopia.

Glad to see this trip report finally come out Dain. Hope your chin stitched up ok with the yarn.

Steve
  • + 5
 Hey Steve -- thanks for chiming in on these comments. We really appreciated the day of downhilling in Menagesha. Those were definitely some of the best trails of our trip. Unfortunately they didn't photograph quite as well as the stuff in the Simiens, that landscape was UNREAL! We did use one of the images from our day with you on the Giro.com story, did you see that? Check it out: www.giro.com/us_en/ethiopia-epic

Anyway, thanks for showing us around out there. I'd love to get back there someday (hopefully soon) and see your Trail 11.

Chin healed up fine, by the way!

Dain
  • + 4
 Wow. I dream of a trip to Canada or even getting over to the Alps. I know the riding is amazing. Here though you have gone to a random region of Africa not having a clue what to expect. From the pics and article Id guess you did not get the most amazing riding however, Its what you get out of it as a person and in that sense, it was clearly amazing!
  • + 4
 Let's put it this way: This past year I've ridden in Ethiopia (I live here), Nepal, BC, Oregon, and the Alps. Ethiopia riding rivals all of these (although the Simiens are not great for riding as the article hints at) and @ken4ord and I have only begun to scratch the surface. But the mapping has started: www.mtbproject.org/directory/8012244/menagesha-national-forest
  • + 5
 I recommend also mapping the trails on Pinkbike's www.trailforks.com/region/ethiopia which has a much larger international reach & audience.
  • + 1
 I second adding the content to trailforks. It will actually help develop tourism in Ethiopia as it takes out some of the guesswork on where to go ride.

P.S. Super cool that you can ride in the national forest there. Over here in the land of the "free" (the US), riding your mountain bike in a national park is a good way to get a big ticket or get arrested.
  • + 1
 I added the Ethiopia region on trailforks months ago to add these trails to it but it was glitchy. Probably the local internet access or something, really bad here. I was in Revelstoke, Nelson and other eastern BC areas this summer and Trailforks was definitely the way to go. Then in OR there was much less on Trailforks and MTB Project seemed the way to go.

I'll get the Menagsesha tracks up on Trailforks at some point, but actually there are only three of us riding these trails so not a lot of demand despite the absolute world-classiness of those tracks.

Google Earth/Maps reads Menagsesha as a national forest but it actually a state forest.
  • + 2
 I was on the previous Simiens MTB trip with the logistics company Secret Compass that @SarahLeishman mentions and have some local feedback in relation to bike flaunting.

I’ve travelled a fair bit with my bike and I’ve been criticised for taking my "expensive bike to a place where it could feed a family of ten for a year.” (NB: not by the people who actually live there.) Yes -it can feel bum-shiftingly uncomfortable to flaunt your fancy bike around a low-income country, however if you ask the locals, most don’t care whether you go there with a pair of flip-flops or a flashy bike. They just care that you go.

A journey like this in a remote region means hiring drivers, local guides, scouts (national park requirement) cooks, locals with mules to carry camping equipment, paying the villages to camp. It contributes to the local economy. Surely that's what feeds families? On top of that, Ethiopians told me that they’re aware of the image much of the world has about their country - an image of lands torn apart by famine and civil war that’s 30 years out of date. The bottom line is if you ask people who live in the Simiens, they want crazy mountain bikers to go on adventures there, have fun and make films about it!

Article by @GiroSportDesign www.giro.com/eu_en/ethiopia-epic sums it up perfectly. The total experience is a whole lot bigger than seeking the best trails. I also find myself still reminiscing about the journey a year later.
Here’s the not-pro less-rad more calamity version of the exped www.youtube.com/watch?v=11EMp0YmPD8 And thanks @juanmcsean - It was your film that convinced me to go in the first place.

P.S. @ken4ord @stifford I got an invite to ride those trails in Menagesha through my Facebook page. Think that must’ve been you? Next time!
  • + 1
 I don't know if it was me Tracy but you're certainly welcome to come back and ride Menagesha. I've got a driver and shuttle truck and the trails are sublime, 20/50 minute, undulating, mostly intermediate, natural singletrack, forest descents for fast/intermediate riders.
  • + 1
 Thanks Steve, By the way - took a look the trailer for Ethiopia Rising. Uplifting story. I'll share it on my networks. Are you involved in the reforestation in Simiens? Read about it in C.W. Nicol "Old Nic's diaries". I'm a journo and I got strong interest on a story idea I pitched before I went to the Simiens last year. For reasons I'll not bore you with, I didn't write it when I got back. I could still followup now as it's not time sensitive. If they're still interested, it would be good to get your insight. I'll send you a private message if you want to have a chat about it.
  • + 1
 Not the Simien park exactly but elsewhere, yes. Send me a PM.
  • + 2
 All of those beautiful photos you all took of the people on your trip, make prints and send/bring them back. From experience, that photo will be an absolute treasure to that person. Though the logistics can be a bit tricky it will be very well worth the cost. During a research trip, I got tapped on the shoulder and brought to see a photo that my adviser had brought a man in Botswana 20 years earlier that she had taken.
  • + 2
 it would be awesome if these trips were associated with organizations like world bicycle relief (www.worldbicyclerelief.org) that promote the use of the bicycle as development tool.
  • + 2
 Exactamente!
  • + 6
 Good idea though in fact I do slideshows from such trips and donate the proceeds to those kind of charities. My shows have paid for 130 bikes through Hans Rey's Wheels4life and the last couple years my Afghan Matt Hunter trip slideshows have donated to build schools in Afghanistan through Central Asia Institute. My latest Ethiopia trip slideshow was seen by the U.K.'s dep ambassador to Ethiopia who thought it was the best advert for the country she'd ever seen. Go to these places. Touris dollars help. See them for yourselves and try to make a difference. I write this from Nepal after going photographing for the Nepal Tiger Trust NGO.
  • + 2
 Great photos and video! Having lived in Ethiopia for a few years it's nice to see some exposure of what the country is really like. People are people, with kids, homes, worries, and joys, wherever you go.
  • + 1
 Loved this article! The nature in Africa is so amazing! So many interesting cultures aswell.
Defenitely looks like a trip you'll remember for the rest of your life, probably even as a high light.
Kind of freaky though that so many people seem to have machine guns over there; must be for a reason. Also I don't think I would have the patience with all those kids running around you all day long, it would probably annoy me because I love the calm peaceful feeling of riding; where it's nothing more than just you, your bike and the trail, and nothing else in the world excists.
But it still looks like it's probably the greatest adventure you could possibly do on a bike. Even though doing it only once in your life is probably enough.
  • + 3
 Those with the guns are the park rangers. In Simien National Park you have to hire guards and guides; it's mostly a jobs scheme. No independent travel in that park unfortunately. I probably wouldn't bring my bike to the Simiens having trekked there. There is world class trail riding around Addis however, most notably in the oldest forest park in Africa that dates to the 14th century: Menagesha. I actually took the riders in the film there after they finished the Simiens.
  • + 4
 Great article. Awesome pics. Kudos to you for going.
  • + 1
 Well Chaps, we just had another stellar day in Menagesha paradise. It was great I was on fire and charging slopes. We even had an out of towner with us great day out. I love the riding here.
  • + 3
 vimeo.com/53576876
we did same route with getch 2 years ago. was great trip!
  • + 1
 OR, you could do this in Kenya: www.riftvalleyodyssey.com
Absolutely EPIC fun, camaraderie, riding, scenery and ADVENTURE
  • + 1
 I'd feel bad riding there. It's just like you shout high and loud "HEY LOOK WHAT YOU WON'T EVER BE ABLE TO DO BECAUSE YOU'RE POOR" right in the center of the village
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 Exactly
  • + 3
 what an epic adventure thanks for share such awesome pics
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 It must be weird to go there and ride a bike worth an amount of money the locals earn in maybe 10 years...
I'd like to visit some exotic country but there's one thing I was wondering about - what about the healthcare? The room where the surgery looks worse than an average European garage, is there any health insurance plan which would, in case of an injury or sickness, cover an immediate transport to a modern 21st century hospital?
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 I don't think so...
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 I doubt your mobile phone would have any reach in many of those places. Looks amazing thought!
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 I currently live in Ethiopia, and yes it can be a bit weird knowing that your bike is the equivalent of 4 years salary. After living in developing countries for the last 11 years you get over it. You realize we are all people it not what you have or do t have that makes a person. When traveling to these far off places you need take healthcare into consideration. Make sure you have meds with you, first aid and expect help to be a long ways off. Make sure in the end you get medavac insurance and figure out the closest place to evacuate to in case necessary. Have your game plan ready. I had one serious accident in Bagladesh, tore open my leg and broke my wrist, luckily there was a facility in Dhaka that good enough to take care of my injuries, getting was a whole story in itself, needless to say trying to get on a rickshaw with your bike with these type of injuries and riding it to the hospital is far from getting airlifted from your local mountain.
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 Oh man, that's very interesting! If i was living in such a country, I won't ride MTB so I can't get injured i guess! haha
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 Mattin if you go to a place like Ethiopia I assume you bring a satellite phone, it costs less than one Enve rim...
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 Definitely have evac insurance. Doesn't cost much.
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 Life must go on, I continue ride even though good medical services are limited, but with that said, I tend to tone it down a bit.
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 úžasný......!!!! nabíjející...!!! a koukám s otevřenou hubou na to...!!!! Big Grin
je taky parádní vidět tady Kamila Tatarkoviče v téhle roli ..super!!!!
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 Amazing photos... Thank you.
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 Incredibly jealousy inducing as I sit at my desk on a dreary grey November day in the UK
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 One of the most epic stories !
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 Amazing visuals, but yes, the video left me with mixed feelings. The contrast is so brutal it's disturbing.
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 when your National Park Scout carries an AK47, you know its going to be a good trip, truly epic, thanks for sharing it
  • + 3
 That monkey is fabulous!
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 incredible nature, so astonishing!
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 The riders are always neon fluorescent dressed. Why ?
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 Epic! Great Video Root One!
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 hahahaa grandma is in control with the AK47
  • + 1
 wow
  • + 0
 Holy crap, that's fresh
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