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One Man and his Horse

Dodola, Ethiopia

With Ethiopia offering a seemingly endless list of star attractions and activities I was keen to make the most of my time here, and get the most out of a country I had only heard positive things about. So, with that in mind, I wasted little time in heading to the Bale Mountains where a four day horse trek lay in store.

I wasn't sure what to expect, given that my last foray into the mountains had been up Mount Kilimanjaro, and was blown away by the natural beauty and way of life found in the mountains. Further to that it was something of a luxury to have the horse do all the leg work whilst I sat back and submerged myself in the surroundings - which would not have been out of place in Europe. Although my legs got to relax my bum was not so fortunate - lets just say the saddle was not exactly going to win any prizes for comfort over the four day trek.

The rolling hills we traversed on the first day reminded me of childhood hikes in the Peak District, and you frequently had to remind yourself this was Africa such was the Britishness of the scenerary. In the distance faint singing could be heard, and as we neared our camp for the first night the melodic singing grew louder and provided a perfect backdrop to a glorious picture.

As we ventured further into the mountains I began to imagine this is what it must have been like to be in a fairytale. The rolling green hills meshing their various fields of wheat, barely and grass together in a patchwork quilt as cactus hedged paths picked their way towards the foot of the more serious mountains. And all this as the sun, a rich toffee colour, bathed the hills in the most magnificent light to the accompaniment of young girls singing to their animals.

Over the past eight months I have experienced a wide range of emotions and feelings, each individually evoked by a different and unique part of Africa, yet never before had I felt such a oneness with the environment I was in. As my noble steed soldered on - looking at the size of the locals I am sure my horse had never had to carry someone of my size before - I allowed myself to soak in the atmosphere.

Each night accommodation was in the shape of local huts, run by local mountain people themselves, and proved to be highly rewarding. On the last night I found myself learning to make local bread, known as Kita, with Ritar and her children, and in doing so became the first ever 'forangi' (local term for white person) to cook in her house - an honour I was quite proud of.

As pleasurable as it was having the horse do all the work by the fourth day I was reduced to walking, such was the soreness of bouncing in the saddle constantly. The added bonus of this was it gave my horse enough time to recover for one last hurrah before we finished. As the fields opened up before us it was time for the horses to stretch their legs and show us what they could really do - I have never ridden a horse flat-out before and must say it was an exhilarating experience.

Thankful for a magical four days in the mountains, and to be out of the saddle for good, I was ready to head north to Addis Ababa and prepare to delve further into the fabric of this country and find out what really makes it tick.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on December 2, 2009 from Dodola, Ethiopia
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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