Monday, 26 March 2012


This is a shorter blog than normal, as since returning from Ethiopia, there have been many things to catch up on. The details of this blog about my expedition to Ethiopia only begin to scrape the surface of the number of indigenious population we tried to assist - and the number that we were unable to. There are times when moral dilemmas are almost impossible and heart breaking decisions have to be made. This trip was not intended as an aid based expedition, but it would be morally criminal not to try and help where possible.
See below for the blog -

Ethiopia in the Dry Season:

Having led 3 previous expeditions to the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, I was excited to be going back after an absence of 3 years.

Up, up, up!

I had previously been twice in November, at the start of the dry season and once in January, in the middle of the dry season.  Now going in March, at the end of the dry season, I was to see how even the verdant Simien Mountains turn into a large dust bowl at this time of the year. River beds are almost dry and water levels appear to be nearing critical.

Notice the nearly dry riverbed on the right

The 8 days of trekking was as tough as I remember it being with our latest wake up being at 5.30am and our earliest at 3.00am. This was to avoid the heat of the afternoon and to be able to walk the 3 middle days of 11, 12.5 and 10 hours respectively.

Walking at sunrise

Most of the usual water sources had dried up which meant that water usage was even more constrained than usual and the afternoon washing sessions in rivers impossible.

Children playing.....

The usual suspects – the Gelada Baboons - made regular appearances and were delightful to watch.  We even saw leaping deer and a whole family of Ibex.

Oooh, that's it, just there... perfect...!

I think that the hardest part of the trek was that the villagers heard that there was a Medic with the group.  As both Leader and Medic, I had spoke to the group about the amount of first aid kit we had brought with us and that I would not be able to help all the villagers on route to the detriment of the trekking group that I was looking after.  This is a real moral dilemma.  I had brought more kit than we needed as a group specifically for the purpose of treating some of the local villagers on route.  I had brought specific wound dressings (supplied by Advancis Medical) for the type of open, seeping wounds that you normally encounter in the Simien Mountains, where it can be a 4 day walk to a clinic and they have to pay for the treatment.  The type of issues that were brought to me included fractures, growths, scabies, infected wounds, open cuts, constipation, conjunctivitis, etc.  It was very hard on me and on the group that we could not solve some of these very simple issues, but we did what we could and used up all the extra supplies we had taken with us.

Some of the children we met

Overall, a very positive expedition to the mountains with all the group reaching Ras Dashen, the highest mountain in Ethiopia and 4th highest in Africa, and all completing the amazing  8 days trekking through the Simiens.

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