Eastern Ethiopia

Harar Jugol

Harar is the forth most – holy city of Islam ( after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem ), founded by Sheikh Aw Abadir and 43 other Saints in 940 A.D. located in the lush green hills of Eastern Ethiopia’s region. Harar kingdom built 99 mosques according to the 99 names of God referred the Quran  of those, an estimated 82 remain active today. circling the city is a 4 – meter high, rugged limestone walled built between 1551 – 1558 with five gates that corresponded the five pillars of Islam. for centuries, this wall kept invaders  at bay while sustaining a rich culture and a unique language, the languege is called Harari– is a mix of Amharic, Arebic, Afan Oromo and Somali, that is only spoken with in the city walls. the walled city of Harar (Jugol) was inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2006. centuries old craft making traditions including weaving, jewelry making and book binding are well preserved and of particular interest to culture enthusiast.

Birding in Bale and Southeast

Southeast Ethiopia is the most alluring parts of Ethiopia to birdwatchers. Its Centerpieces is Bale mountains National park. Which is the African birding club recently listed as one of the Continents top 5 birding hotspots.

The best place to see endemics, Bale harbors six Species unique to Ethiopia, and another 11 Shared only with Eritrea. Wood land specials abound at Dinsho, while the Sanetti Plateau hosts high altitude-endemics such as Rouget’s rail and black-headed siskin, along Side the only known sub-Saharan breeding populations of golden eagle, ruddy shelduck and red billed chough. Further afield, Sof Omar is one of the only two reliable sites for the endemic Salvador’s Serin while the South eastern birding route through Negele Borena and Yabello incorporates the only known sites for the localized Ruspoli’s turaco and Stresemann’s bush crow.

Bale Mountain National Park

A biodiversity hotspot of global significance, the 4377 m high bale mountain national park incorporates the world extensive Afro alpine moorland, along with   vast tracts of juniper- hagenia, bamboo and ever green forest. More than 1300 plant species have been identified, among them 160 Ethiopia’s endemics and 23 that are unique to the park. Bale is the most important stronghold for several endemic mammals. The Ethiopia wolf and the freakish giant mole rat haunt the 4000 m high Senatti plateau, while the endangered mountain Nyala is associated with juniper, hagenia forest in the north, and the Bale monkeys restricted to bamboo forest in the south. The mountains offer superb walking.  Easy day trails are available at Dinsho (the park head quarter) and the Harena forest, while overnight trekking route, under taken on foot or horseback, include week long round hike between Dinsho and senatti. For more sedentary visitors an all-weather road ascends south in to the Harenna forest.

Danakil Depression

 

Studded with active volcanoes and explosive geysers, the Danakil which drops 116m below sea level, and frequently experiences temperatures greater than 50 c is one of the most harsh and brutal landscapes anywhere on earth. For those few adventurous souls fortunate enough to spend time there, the Danakil is also a place of rare geological fascination and immeasurable beauty. stretching across northeast Ethiopia for tens of thousands of square kilo meters, this true desert is punctuated by some truly wondrous sites, in particular Erta’Ale, a climbable volcano enclosing the world’s oldest lava lake-a cauldron of black-and red magma from which fountains of molten rock spurt high in to the sky. Elsewhere, sulfurous geysers. Bubble over in to streaming pools hemmed in by multi colored crystalline formations, and Afar traders mine blinding white salt flats and carve amoles (Bar of salt) which are transported to the highlands by camelback by Tigray Caravaneers. The Danakil Depression is not only one of the hottest and lowest laying places on our planet, but also one of the most extraordinary.

Cradle of Humankind

Once far more moist and lush than it is today, Ethiopia’s northern rift valley, which is incorporates Awash National Park and the Danakil, is most likely where humans evolved. The region’s most famous hominid skeleton find is “Lucy,” the 3.2 million years old remains of a semi-bipedal hominid that almost doubled the known time line of human evolution, back in 1974.  Subsequently, what is still the world’s oldest undisputed hominid fossil, dating back 5.5 million years, was also unearthed in the region. the northern rift valley can also claim the world’s oldest stone age tools, dating back 2.6 million years, while a pair of skulls unearthed along the Omo river was recently dated at 200,000 years old, making them the oldest known remains of anatomically modern humans, homo sapiens.