Hermella Hailu Mekonnen
Somewhere in Addis Ababa, it was 6:45 in the morning. I arrived at the bus stop in a rush. It was parked next to Axum Hotel with a group of people were standing around it, conversing. I can sense the excitement coursing through!
What could happen in the morning for groups of crowds to gather around and get excited about? You might ask, the answer is travel!
Yes, you read that right! Travel, adventure, and new experiences. Not any kind of travel, travel that encompasses hiking and camping.
For some of you out there it might be shocking to hear this, you might even say, “hiking? Here in Ethiopia?” The answer is hell yes! And one of the leading organizers of hiking trips in Ethiopia is Addis Hiking.
Formed in May 2015, Addis Hiking was founded by an energetic young man, Binyam. “I started hiking when I was a kid,” Binyam recalls, “Eventually, I happened to take my friend in one of my adventures, and they loved the experience.” After that first impression, Binyam and Co started discussing creating a community of hikers. “Creating this group, I envisioned to create a society that enjoys walking and adventures as well as developing health and wellness enjoying the peace and serenity that nature provides!”
The first time I hiked with Addis hiking group was about a couple of months ago on a trip to Suba, forest park north-west of Addis Ababa. This time around, the adventure was taking us to Ankober, a small, historic town in the Semien Shoa zone. Apart from a weak awareness that Ankober was once the administrative capital of Ethiopia, the place was as unknown as any to me, and I didn’t quite know what to expect.
After a roughly 2-hour drive north, the bus stopped at Debre Birhan, a major city serving as the administrative center for the North Shoa zone. We resumed the ride after a break and some refreshments, finally reaching Ankober majestically sitting on an elevation of 2445 meters above sea level. We would hike upwards to 3,030meters above sea-level at a humidity level of 41%. The temperature falls to as low as 40C at night, I heard.
The air was refreshing despite the cold. The locals carried our bags, and some of the heavier ones were loaded to the donkeys, which made the journey up the elevation easier.
The view was breathtaking. Ankober was serene, the air was fresh. The trees were very big, tall and ancient. The green engulfed everything, the trees, the rocks and the land. It was a sight for sore eyes. Even the ground felt soft underneath.
We reached the peak of our trip around 5:30 pm; some reached earlier, of course. The mesmerizing sunset was waiting there to be admired; a moment that made us think this was worth hustle. Well, as many great things in life, the sunset didn’t last long, and it ended before we had enough of it.
Morning came after a long, cold night, despite the warmth from the campfire and our blankets. We woke up to a majestic sunrise. And we were awed with what was unfolding in front of our eyes. The terrain, with the incredible, overwhelming orange beauty, took our breath away.
“We organize trips two or three times a month. If there are too many people register for the hike, we facilitate up to three rounds of trips to the same location,” Binyam explains.
“The entire endeavor is tiring, but reaching the top, you would be engrossed by a strong sense of achievement and pride. You learn to appreciate the majesty and beauty of nature”, Said one of the hikers.
You might wonder this trip must be expensive. Not at all! Addis Hiking group just brings people together and everyone covers their own cost. In the camping trip food, snacks, water and transportation cost are included. If it’s a day hike, food is excluded.
As we headed down after breakfast, we were not tired at all. We were rather full of energy with smiles filling our faces and a deep camaraderie forming among us.