update from Ethiopia

time for a Cycle to Rwanda update…

i can’t believe how quick the last week has gone.. First and foremost, thanks so much for all the support you guys have offered. I’m very upbeat at the moment.. The broken frame is one in a long list of things that have gone wrong and happened on this trip that have provided some great talking points and some wonderful experiences.

So, I had the opportunity of staying in Khartoum (Sudan) for a few extra days to try and get it fixed..I decided not to..I thought I would risk riding it and see exactly how strong the Koga would be… hmm..turns out, not that strong…Got to the border of Sudan & Ethiopia. Went into the market, where they clearly hardly ever see a white man! Enjoyed some great goat stew and fresh coffee (it was that strong my heart was beating so fast!) and after paying ‘police’ charges in Sudan and getting ripped off (theres a surprise!) we crossed the border. I was taken to an office and made to explain my photographic gear and laptop etc and to register it…(hmm) but all was ok.

We cycled into the highlands…great change of scenery, lush and full of people, literally everywhere. We got to Gondor and promptly booked into the cheapest place I could find…it was a brothel..but the bed was ok! After going to the shared loo and finding a host of doors open with attractive young women sitting on the bed, I guessed where we were! Went for a walk in the evening, pretty unsafe, and after being told 3 times to be careful and passing police with guns sitting on the street, I was advised to return back..so I did, to find pete enjoying his second pasta meal of the evening! We left Gondor and hit 110 miles to Bahir Da.. The frame appeared to be holding up ok. I moved wait to the back and it seemed to be working…

We left about 6am ready to cycle 120miles.. within 30miles I could tell something wasn’t normal. The crack had increased by about 4mm.. I hit 50miles and stopped for lunch, the crack now had increased by 10mm.. I managed to hitch a lift in a pickup – but it was only going 25km, so I then continued biking, only for the bike to start to flex.. so after cycling a total of 93miles a huge truck came along.. I flagged him down – smelling my 10 dollars he agreed to take me the rest of the way to a rough town called deb Markos. We bumped along in the cab at 40kmph..it was great fun, seeing some wonderful scenery and having some good laughs in broken English. He took me to a local eatery, where we enjoyed Ethiopian specialty and Vodka! He was adamant I tried it… two shots later, we continued to Markos.. So today… I was gutted to be getting a lift to Addis Ababa. But equally looking forward to it as Clive Julian (who has been the stuff of legends throughout this whole mess) has arranged for my cycle to be looked at by Ethios Motor Trading Company, in the hope they can weld it… so on the bus.. I was sat on the floor (probably due to my excessive haggling over the rip off prices) of a bus designed for 12 people, but which had 23 on it!! It was a nightmare of a journey.. missing so many wonderful photo opportunities! About 50km outside Addis we had a flat, the police came along and noticed something else.. so everyone off – mass bundle onto a local bus. I couldn’t get on, so got my bike off and cycled into Addis..descending was awful, my bike was shuddering and almost quiting completely.

So tomorrow, I’m off to the motor company.. another experience!

The trip is going well, I’m finding the transition between photographer and cyclist a nightmare. I thought it would be ok. But in truth, I don’t have time to capture half the images I want. I like to get to know my subject, not just shove a camera in their face..


About Julian Claxton

My passion for photography is supported by experiences gained on exciting travel adventures and through working for fantastic photographers. In 2006, I made the exciting step of realising my dream of becoming a freelance photographer. Since this pivotal moment, I have held numerous exhibitions, been featured nationally & internationally in print and won numerous awards, including being a finalist in the National Geographic Photographic competition in 2013 with one of my documentary images from the Sudan. From an early age I began to enjoy taking pictures of my daily life, basking in the thrill of sending the film to the printers and eagerly awaiting the pocket sized prints. My first foray into the world developing and printing strangely began at school when I was asked to produce a descriptive photo for the school newspaper. A front page shot later and I was destined to start the long arduous journey of becoming a photographer. In between exciting travel adventures and working for fantastic photographers, I graduated from college and at a crossroads in my journey to becoming a pro photographer, I embarked on a career working as a medical photographer. Learning new skills and dabbling in video production as well as progressing design skills, I yearned for the challenge and freedom of becoming a freelance. I have been fortunate enough to work on some amazing assignments which have included shooting a documentary assignment with an air ambulance, gaining full access to a British Pro cycling team during an international UCI tour, cycling to Rwanda and creating a photographic documentary of my journey. The experiences continue to grow, meeting wonderful people to photograph and telling the story of their journey. The list of events and striking moments that have played out through my viewfinder continue to grow and provide me with ever increasing snapshots of life to capture. One of the highlights of my career thus far has been staying in rural Uganda, teaching photography to the kids from the region, in a project I set up in late 2014, entitled ‘Give a child a camera’. The basis of the project is to supply 35mm cameras and film to the rural schools in this region of East Africa, teaching the children how to shoot photographs. After a week of taking photos of their life, an exhibition is held at the school and the children leave with their very own album, camera and film. One of the images I shot at Eden school in rural Uganda, during morning chapel won the 2015 Travel Media Tourism and Photography award. A great honour and one that I wouldn’t have picked up had it not been for the wonderful children of East Africa. For further information please visit www.julianclaxtonphotography.com
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4 Responses to update from Ethiopia

  1. Phil Seaman says:

    Hi Julian. Following your remarkable and exciting adventure. you have a true gift with words in addition to your photographic skills. a book perhaps ? Keep safe and continue to make the most of this experience as you progress towards your goal in Rwanda. You are in our thoughts. Phil Seaman

  2. Ellen says:

    What an incredible experience. You must be shattered but so proud! So pleased you are doing really well, great stuff Jules!

  3. roskruge says:

    Hi Julian it Andrew here (from Aswan) How did you manage cycling from Matama. to Gonder Ethiopia with all those goats, donkeys and cattle walking down the centre of the road. and junk and rocks on road. I have taken your advice now have wordpress https://andrewrichardstravels.wordpress.com/
    I was stung by police for 123 Sudan Pounds at Wadi Halfa but nothing at the El Galabat Sudan. border with Ethiopia.
    Also had to declare me camera & computer at Matama Ethipia. dam! hoping to sell camera.
    I was behind you, so I received reports from locals, about you guys. Their must be a girl on same route, on bicycle. As locals, kept describing “big tits”. All the best my friend. stay in touch. Andrew

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