Far away from the Ethiopian tourist trail: Assosa

by Thomas Buechler - 3 years, 8 months ago

TBT is the only travel blog that has divided Ethiopia into regions and  I was lacking just Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambella in the southwest of the country, bordering South Sudan and Sudan. Both  places were so much affected by the civil wars in neigbouring South Sudan, but much more Gambella, of course. I flew in with Ethiopian Airlines, and one advise there: if you fly into the country with the Natinal Flag carrier, you get heavy discounts on domestic flights, I paid USD 195 instead of 465 for the Addis-Assosa-Gambella circuit; even a short hop from an African neighbouring capital into Addis Abeba counts. Infrastructure in Assosa is very basic, during my two days stay (Blentana Hotel, airport shuttle, no need for reservation!), I had no running water, regular blackouts and no internet. There are no highlights here, but they are constructing some major projects right now: a very modern football stadium, and outside town,  Africa's largest hydro-power dam: The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The project has been a source of tension with Egypt, since the filling  of the reservoir with 74 billion cubic meter of water, will decrease the flow of water down the Nile river. It will take more than 5 years to fill it up during which time Sudan and Egypt's farmers along the Nile river might suffer so much. But it gives Ethiopia 6000 megawatts of electricity. When I was there, a TV crew from Uganda was visiting the dam amidst heavy rain. The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a pilot project that is of interest for all of Africa and symbolizes Ethiopia's road to modernisation that is well under way. The town of Assosa however, remains a poverty-stricken place with muddy roads and no real highlights for the seasoned traveller. However, people were mega friendly, and I toured around with a blue rickshaw that was probably the coolest thing to do.

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