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May 8, 2007

Sudan Visa at last - GREAT SUCCESS!!

LOCATION: Addis Ababa, North Ethiopia
Longitude: N:09deg.03.
Latitude: E: 038deg.42.
Kms from Djibouti: 1,407

After a month of waiting I finally walked away from the Sudanese consulate yesterday afternoon with the needful visa in hand. In the words of Borat - "GREAT SUCCESS!!!"


Today I return to Gondar and high tail it for the Sudan border only 200kms away. At the time of issue the 30-day visa also comes into effect, so I'm on the clock to make best use of it: this next section is I believe the last major hurdle to getting back to Greenwich in October. If I can swing a permit to paddle across Lake Nasser to Egypt then it's a relatively straightforward pedal back through the Middle East and Europe to finish. If I can't get a permit it could mean backtracking all the way to Mumbai in India!


The hilltop town of Gondar is further testament to Ethiopia's rich cultural and religious past. Walking around the ruins of the medieval castles and churches that were built here in the 17th century I felt I could quite easily have been back in England or Scotland. It's not hard to understand why some have labeled Gondar as Ethiopia's Camelot. A rendition of Macbeth could be staged here without it looking at all out of place.


Gondar was established as Ethiopia's first permanent capital by King Fasilidas in the 1630's. Prior to this the nation's capitals were little more than royal tented camps, always on the move around the realm with a vast entourage of family, soldiers and general hangers-on who consumed everything in their path like a swarm of locusts. The reason for these transient capitals was to keep a firm grip over the country and preempt rebellions from outlying tribes.


It is still under debate by historians whether these castles were designed by Indians, Portuguese or Arabs. Probably a mixture with local Axumite influence thrown in. At the height of it's power and glory these banquets halls would have been filled with elaborate decorations for the sumptuous feasts laid on by the various Kings and Emperors who reined throughout this golden era. In 1855 King Tewedros II moved the capital to Maquedala, the hilltop fortress that was eventually destroyed by the British in 1867 (see past update).



MORE IMAGES (click to enlarge) -

> Total to raise: $4,500
> Total raised to date: $2,900
> Total still to raise: $1,600

Sincerest thanks to the following for your pledges -
- The Sheltons, UK, $500
- Karl Kaseoru, US, $500
- John and Bridget Maxwell, UK, $50
- Jennifer Mackenzie, US, $50
- Ian McCormick, UK, $200
- Terry Mason, California USA, $200
- Jackie and Jean Bernard, Djibouti, $250.
- Erden Eruc and Nancy Board of Around n Over, Seattle USA, $250
- Sharon Kessler, Colorado USA, $500
- Jane Koca, San Jose USA, $50
- John Caldwell, San Jose USA, $100
- Greg Kolodziejzyk of Pedal the Ocean, Canada, $250

Posted on May 8, 2007 6:23 PM