18/02/2010 – Immigration to start with to sort out our visa extensions. Thinking it would only take an hour, it turned out to take several hours. We have to go back tomorrow to pick up our passports. I got stung with a late penalty charge as my visa was two weeks beyond its expiry! Addis is the only place you can renew your visa in Ethiopia so I let it roll until we arrived in the capital to sort it out. Bun’s was issued a little later in London so she was OK. A money-making scheme for sure!

Straight to the Sheraton afterwards to meet Mark. His flight got in really early so he could have done with the few extra hours in bed whilst we were banging our heads at Immigration. We started by driving around Addis for a little tour and then had breakfast. The good thing about Addis is that most of its sights are viewable very easily by a quick bolt around town; some communist statues, Meskel Square and the football stadium to name a few. After breakfast we went to the Mercato market, the largest in Africa, for a few hours.

Later on we headed back to Mark’s hotel to relax by the swimming pool for the afternoon. It was well needed and we swam in the pool and relaxed on the sun loungers with a drink. A slightly odd experience, swimming with music playing under the water, but very nice to get in and have a swim for the first time in a while. Mark sunbathed in his cotton shawl he bought at the market!

We finished the day off by going for a meal at Castelli’s, a long established Addis institution that has been serving Italian food in the capital for 50 years. Lovely food and red wine. Get it where you can! Bun couldn’t finnish her main course and got it to take-out. We were quickly followed by two street kids when we left and the food was passed to them.

19/02/2010 – Get up and go today. We dropped the Landcruiser off at the garage. We followed a taxi there as it was 20 minutes from the centre and hard to find. Back to immigration to pick up our passports. All OK, then off to the Kenyan embassy to get our visas. It only took half an hour to get them; the quickest yet on the road and contrary to what we had read, which said it was a difficult embassy to deal with. We amused ourselves looking at the glass cabinet which had lots of items, made and sold in Kenya, on display.

Back to the garage – all seems OK. Labour charges are very cheap here. We left the vehicle for four hours and paid 400 birr/£20. They seem to have got to the bottom of the radiator issue. The fan belt was loose so they tightened that and tested the thermostat. The mechanic  ran a diagnostics test to see that everything else was OK with the engine. No problems. The front brake pads that had been making a screeching sound on the day we arrived in the capital were totally worn out. We got the spare pads out and had them changed.

Two Australian’s we met who are travelling south are keen to go via Lake Turkana into Kenya. This is ideal for us if it can happen. We’re going to meet up tomorrow to chat with them. We aim to cross into Kenya within the next few weeks.

20/02/2010 – Saturday in Addis. Spent the morning zipping around town trying to get a few things done. We passed by Wim Holland’s place. As the name suggests, it is run by a Dutch man and his Ethiopian wife.  It’s usually the first place to head to if  you are overlanding. There very helpful and assisted us in trying to fix our GPS charger cable that has broken. We might stay there tomorrow. Four nights in a hotel is enough and a bit of green space will give us time to organise ourselves before we leave on Monday. Their site is located near the old Addis to Djibouti railway station in downtown Addis. We had steak fondue at the Cottage restaurant in the evening followed by a film, then we were done.

21/02/2010 – We’ve decided to head on to Awassa today. 275 kms from Addis, it is located in the Rift valley at altitude and has a good location on the east side of Lake Awassa. Later today we hope to take a local boat to see the hippos that live in the lake.

We are still undecided by the Lake Turkana route. Having been here for three weeks, we might see the lake from the south upwards from within Kenya. A trip to the Omo valley is still possible and we can’t leave without seeing this.

Early breakfast a the hotel while watching some live Ethiopian running on the TV before heading off. We need a full top up of fuel before leaving Addis. Were managing to get about 1200 miles from both tanks if the terrain is good. Makes a big difference when you want to cover a lot of ground without the worry of running out. Fuel is more expensive here than in Sudan but cheaper than Kenya so we will fill up here before crossing. A litre here is fifty pence.