Northern Circuit updates

Blue Nile Canyon

The road across the canyon is now fully paved, and there is a new bridge over the Nile – another project with the Japanese.

Bahir Dar

Someone told me that a new dam was to be inaugurated by the end of 2009 and that would eliminate the Blue Nile Falls altogether, but I was not able to verify that.

Guzara Castle

No evidence that there is any restoration work done there. It seems pretty deserted, with weeds growing around it.

Simien Mountains

For those on a budget it is recommended to stay in Debark upon arrival, and enter the park in the morning since every calendar day they should pay for a “guide” and an armed guard even if they do not intend to go for a hike.  I arrived in the park in the late afternoon and had to pay those fees for essentially no benefit.  Also, the guide and guard require two seats in your car so if you come with a fully occupied car, you may be in trouble. It is perfectly possible to do the Simiens in one day, driving all the way to Chenek (2 hours from Debark) and going for short walks.

p. 238 Gonder to Axum by road

Perhaps you may want to mention that, among other attractions, this scenic road passes the amazing Tekeze canyon just south of Shire.  The Tekeze is a major tributary of the Nile, and the canyon, with its red-earth slopes, is a sight to behold.  There is also a major dam built on the Tekeze (not seen from the road).

p. 258 Axum Stelae Field

The no-name Axum stele which was returned from Italy is referred to as the Axum Obelisk in some sources, such as the Unesco World Heritage Site list.  You may consider using the same terminology.

p. 262 Axum King Ezana’s park

The tablet in King Ezana’s park, protected inside a closed building, is bilingual – not trilingual as mentioned in your text.  The key to the building is held by a guard who sits in a small information booth across the road.  Near the booth there are remains of a large sixth century church which were excavated a few years ago.

p. 359 Lalibela tour practicalities

The entrance to the complex is now 300 Birr

p. 357 – Lalibela – the Alef Hotel

Paid the same price as the Asheton, $10, for a modern clean single with a shower – much less than the price mentioned in your text, and with no negotiations.

p. 324 – Hayk Istafanos

The entrance fee to the monastery is 100 Birr, which seems out of proportion.  You can not enter the monastery grounds without paying the fee.

p.  329 – where to stay in Kombolcha

The best hotel is Hikma Pension, with clean attractive rooms and a busy terrace restaurant.  They charge 140 Birr for a single with a shower, which seems steep for such a town. The Meron Hotel charges 90 Birr for a room with a cold shower, and is run down.

Ron Bennett

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