One of those days in Mekele. We are here to sort out our Danakil trip. Yesterday’s journey from Axum was another superb drive.

In the morning we were hanging around the hotel where we camped, waiting for our guide. A man who was staying at the hotel approached us and started questioning me about our vehicle. Just a few questions about bringing the vehicle into Ethiopia; nothing out of the ordinary. We get a lot of curious people asking about the trip were doing. When our guide turned up he started asking more questions about the vehicle. We didn’t make much of it at the time. When  hey both started arguing, more people turned up – soon there was a crowd. The argument was down to this man believing we were travelling in Ethiopia, without the right permission or paperwork. He didn’t bother ask us to see the papers we received from Customs when we entered the country.

Our guide had no idea who he was and thought he was talking rubbish. Other men around agreed with our guide and the man must have felt outnumbered which made him more angry. Next, whilst we were sitting in the vehicle ready to drive away, he threatened to throw a stone at the vehicle if we drove away. Our guide was angry about it and wanted to call on a traffic policeman to resolve what was going on. We eventually found one and  returned to the hotel and started a dialogue with the angry man. It came to light that this man was some sort of police chief who felt we had been in the wrong by not having the right documents.

We were not sure why a police chief was picking up a stone and threatening to throw it at the vehicle, when he could have asked us for the papers in the first place. Hey , this is Africa!

After a while I decided to get out of the vehicle and produced our carnet and Customs declaration. This was passed around, starting with the Traffic policeman. I passed time by making funny faces at the small kids who were surrounding us and found it quite amusing. It never felt like it would get out of hand, even when he had the stone in his hand!

We knew we were not missing anything regarding our entry into the country. Along the way, it’s easy to research and speak to enough people to know what to expect down the line.

Eventually we  moved on and went about our mission to try to find a tour group to latch onto for our trip. A big group of vehicles already kitted out would have been fine, but there weren’t many around. The other idea was to hire a vehicle and driver to act as a guide.

We were quoted silly money to do this. It was looking bad until our guide had a call from a tour operator. It turned out that we could see certain parts of the Danakil in our own vehicle without any other support vehicles. We would need three days to see Dallol and lake Asale. We will stand on the lowest point on earth and hopefully see salt caravans coming from the depression.

We made plans to drive to Wukro, a good moving on place in the morning, so we can sort out the permits and scouts at Bere Ale. We stocked up on food and got enough water for the three days. Bun drove the 40 kms to Wukro.

Before we left town, we had the gearbox oil changed. It was due pretty soon, so we spent a hour doing that. Also the tour guide had a call for us to take an empty gas canister to Dallol. We had read about requests like this because of the remoteness of some parts of the depression. We didn’t have a problem with this and went into town to pick it up.