The Step – 6000m at Lalibela, Ethiopia

After a week of driving and flying over giant canyons and plateaus, we had reached the end of the Ethiopian highlands.  Now, 2000m above that last 4000m ridge, we were riding the better side of a giant step in the atmosphere.  To the east, the terrain was dropping towards the lowlands of east Ethiopia and the sub-sea-level volcanoes in the Danakil depression, then the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.  So we were flying at the meeting point of two great air masses – the dry one of the highlands and the moist one of the Indian Ocean – and our cloud base was 2000m higher than the sea of cumulus in our feet; we were at 6000m!  

Shortly before sunset we landed on the plateau at 3600m, where we met the local mountain people.  In the golden light, they looked extra handsome, their colours extra vivid.  I wish at least one of them had a social media account, so she could show the others how beautiful their plateau looks from the air, and read to them my message: “Thanks for the welcome, guys!  See you again next year!”

Then just after sunset I relaunched towards the valley 1600m below, pushing full bar so I can land with some light left for safety, but still the ground was pumping magic lift at 2-3m/s!  Could we time our next flights there with a full moon, so we can climb into the moonlight?  

p.s. Next winter we’ll be back in Kenya and Ethiopia for more adventures, so if you wanna join our XC tours, drop me a line.

text & camera: Yassen Savov

second camera: Omer Cohen

music: Vivian Jones – African Love