We are heading north again, this time to the Afar region and the desert area of Danakil. A stop-over in Awash allowed us a brief round through the Awash National Park, the first place where we do see some larger mammals, in numbers. Gazelles, and especially the majestic Oryx, as well as Kudu and what I think are Hartebeests are crossing our road, or rather, the park tracks. Plenty of birds, as well, of course. A viewpoint at a safari lodge provides our first glimpses of the Awash River, the river that Wilfred Thesiger – about whom more later – followed, some 80 years ago, to explore its course.
Awash also has the Buffet d’Auouche, the hotel built next to the railway station, and obviously dating from when the Addis Ababa-Djibouti line was opened. Apparently, here is where Haille Salassie slept, and Charles de Gaulle, amongst others – likely in the same fabulous room, with private veranda and rocking chair, that we occupied for the night. This is one of those gems, stuck in a previous era, a bit run-down by now, but still with all its romance from a time long gone. And the best of it was, they had Gordon’s and Schweppes! So, temporarily back in gin and tonic mode, and what better place to have it than here!
next: a little about explorer Wilfred Thesiger