Africa's Camelot - Gonder

Gonder Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 12 › view all entries
We drove back to Gonder from the Simien Mountains, hoping to find another hotel other than the 'Circle Hotel', the place we stayed in before we left for the mountains. Apart from the upmarket Goverment run hotel, 2km out of town, this was supposed to be one of the better hotels in town. However we found it noisy, dirty, and infested with fleas. Also, more annoyingly, it was where all the hustlers hung out. You couldn't leave the hotel without being hassled.
We were recommended some hotels by other people we met that were a few streets back from the centre and were supposed to be peaceful. Unfortunately they were full, so reluctantly we found ourselves back at the Circle for two more nights.

In the evening of the second night, the guy behind the counter (who wasn't the manager) told us that a new 15% tax was imposed as of 'yesterday' and we would have to pay more.

Oh no you don't, we thought. We didn't believe him for a second, and besides, you can't go back on what price was agreed on check in. Cameron repeatedly told him that we would pay it, but only if he put it in writing and signed it. He didn't want to do this, surprise, surprise, so we checked out only paying what we agreed to. He wasn't happy, but too bad. IF anybody found themselves in Gonder, we certainly wouldn't recommend that hotel!

The next day was spent visiting Gonder's 'Royal Enclosure'. This is a walled compound in the centre of town containing the ruins of 17th century palaces which were home to the Emporer of the time, and his family.
It was really interesting visiting as, although they are Gonder's main tourist attraction, there were few tourists and we felt like we were exploring a deserted settlement alone - without staff, guides, guards, or roped off parts.

There were no rules or restrictions and you could go or climb, where you liked.

It was very quiet and peaceful and the grounds were covered in long grass. Women were at work in amongst the ruins, cutting the grass close to the walls with sickles.

There biggest building in the grounds was Emporer Fasilada's palace and it was totally intact and had recently been restored inside. The floorboards were new and seemed like they were oiled that day!
You could easily imagine what it would have been like in the 1600s with paintings on the wall and carpets covering the floor.

On the way back we stopped to buy water and bananas at a road side shack staffed by two muslim girls. It started raining heavily and they invited us in to wait it out. Our converstaion was a bit limited (ie. they knew some of our language but we knew none of theirs...) but they were very friendly.

Gonder exhausted us a little, with being constantly approached by people wanting to be our guides, beggars asking for money, and children asking for pens (and money). It was mainly because we were staying right in the centre of town. That said, there was always something interesting to see from the balcony.
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Scenes from the balcony of the Ci…
Scenes from the balcony of the 'C…
photo by: alexchan