While the main purpose of a Water to Thrive vision trip is to meet with partners, visit water projects, and see the impact of working for clean water up close, there is also time to celebrate the rich history, culture, and geography of Ethiopia. Today Kendall writes about a “rest” day that was filled with excitement.

Our day started out in Gondar where we left our hotel at 8am and went to visit the castle fortress in the city. After having walked 13.6 miles yesterday to visit project sites, we were all ready to have a relaxing rest day. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and knew of all of the best places to take pictures throughout our walk around the grounds.

After spending the morning touring the castle, we loaded up the car and headed off to the Simien Mountain Lodge, which is known for being the highest lodge in Africa. After reaching the lodge we unloaded our luggage, put hiking boots on and headed to go on a 2-hour leisurely hike to see the mountains and the Gelado monkeys – an indigenous grass eating species. Not only did we see a ton of monkeys but they actually let us up close to them and allowed us to sit and take pictures with them. We just sat and watched as they groomed each other and as the mama’s nursed the babies. It was truly an amazing sight.

We’re also way up in the mountains so we were able to see some incredible views and take some fun pictures along the way.

The biggest downfall of the day was the fact that our driver got lost trying to find the end of the trail to pick us up. He ended up driving 36 kilometers into the national park when the exit of the trail was not even 5 kilometers down the road. The cell phone reception out here isn’t the best either, so no one could get ahold of him to tell him to come back. Instead of waiting on the side of the road, we decided to start the trek back to the lodge along the steep and winding road. What was supposed to be a rest day, turned into another day of hard work and hiking – we were all struggling.

Thankfully, another truck going towards the lodge saw us and was nice enough to stop and give us a ride back. I’m not sure we would have made it otherwise. But we made it back, got some food & jebana buna, and watched a very interesting documentary on the Gelado monkeys. All in all, it was an adventurous day that made for lots of fun memories.