One of the best experiences of the whole journey was the privilege of meeting the Gomaz tribe. Slightly set back from the river, we were apparently the first foreign creatures to ever be invited to their village. We wanted to insure the encounter was memorable – we exchanged some gifts, a few dance moves and captured our experience together. In fact with everyone we met the encounters were extraordinary. It’s so rare to see a sight such as us; the locals would be slightly overwhelmed by how to deal with it. One of the funniest moment of the trip was when we used the drone to scout the river downstream to see the hazards ahead of us. If the locals saw us controlling the drone on a fly-around, it was a bit scary for them but at least they knew it was controlled by us. When they saw a drone appearing out of nowhere, they would run for their lives like it was the end of days. So we stopped that!
Nothing quite compares to the Ethiopian coffee, it seems impossible to recreate the full taste experience when you return home. They do mine and shake for gold on the side of river, but the true gold of Ethiopia is her coffee. The gorges and hills surrounding us were quite barren and dry, often with lines of baboons barking down at us. This soon became the preferred way to communicate between our group. The bird calls were magical, yet sometimes slightly electronic. Amplified by the canyons, it was our reliable morning alarm.
Throughout it was profoundly beautiful even if the rapids were predominantly shallow and technical which made for some awkward paddling (but also good fun). I think we honoured the river through the footage we captured and we certainly were honoured to run her ourselves. So many people from the team and the communities we met have a very special relationship with rivers. Rivers are the veins of a country, cleansing and connecting life together. Almost everyone wrote journals and poetry about this soulful river, it deserved every word.