There are few roads in Addis as congested as Debre Zeit. That is saying a lot. This road is the main lifeline of Addis, connecting the land-bound capital with the port of Djibouti. As a result it is a maze of slow moving trailer trucks, with cars, donkeys and people dodging around them to get from place to place. During the recent construction, Debre Zeit road was even worse than usual, not, it seems, a pleasurable confusion by comparison.
From Meskal Square, Debre Zeit road is lined by shops, restaurants, and an increasing number of modern new office buildings. After a few kilometers you come to the aptly dubbed ‘chaos square’, next to the big grain silos, where a wide open intersection leads to interesting contests of will between impatient drivers. At rush hours a group of 6 harassed traffic cops manage to keep a semblance of control, but otherwise it’s every car for itself.
You have to negotiate the busy street for quite a number of kilometers, passing quite a number of shops and restaurants, and braving confusion square – one of the worst of the many difficult squares in the city, then eventually reaching the little bridge at Akaki, which I consider the edge of town.
Past Akaki the vistas broaden and the lovely hills of the East appear. One hill on the right boasts a series of low military bunkers, and is said to house another ammunition dump.
About 20 km past Akaki you reach Dukem, nicknamed by my son as ‘Duke Nukem’ after a popular computer game. Although it is a mass of trucks, donkeys and pedestrians, it has a couple of okay hotels and bars. Another 30 kilometers brings you to the outskirts of Debre Zeit and the turnoff to Siquala Mountain. There is a ridge of hills on the right, the furthest of which is Siquala, about 30 km south.