Lake Langano is immense with golden water, surrounded by forests, inhabited by a myriad of birds and other animals. This is another volcanic lake of Ethiopia, which apparently has become a place of tourism. We were in another less-crowded area in the forest around the shores, and where at sunrise some decided to go in search of elusive birds. Good thing, because after it started raining and did not stop until late afternoon. Is it about the monsoon.
The Konso landscape has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Its forms that have been shaped by water and wind resemble skyscrapers that remind you of New York Ethiopia. The red earth contrasts with the green of the vegetation which makes a unique and spectacular views. The town is right next to these cliffs that will leave you breathless. If you take a walk through the village it's like going back in time.
Arriving at the Ashetan Maryam and Yimrehane Kristos Church is when we stumbled upon a neighborhood meeting that had just left the church or the Orthodox mass. There were people around, it is a mountainous region and live scattered the territory north of Lalibela. It was quite a sight to see this place and its people
Weldiya is a city in northern Ethiopia. You need to take the Lalibela road from Addis Ababa to reach this city. After we had stopped for a meal, we strolled down the main street and the people we encountered were very nice and welcoming. We came across a school full of children and shops and, as it is not very common to see tourists here, everyone was interested in us and wanted us to take their photo.
The Nechisar National Park is part of the area containing Lake Chamo, the most visited of the two lakes near the city of Arba Minch.
Lake Chamo is home to some of the world's largest crocodiles, although we were not lucky enough to see any, as well hippos of which we could only see their heads from the boat. There are many more types of animals living here although we were only able to see pelicans and more pelicans, along with some other birds. Nevertheless, there is a special charm here and the walk through the reserve and the lake is highly recommended. Keep in mind that the lake shore is full of mosquitos.
The lake is in the middle of Awassa Great Rift Valley Rif. It covers an area of 130km and it has a maximum depth of about 10 metres. It's got one of the most beautiful sunrises I've seen and if you are lucky you can see hippos if you take a ride in the boats that cross the lake, but there are very few around. Close by is the city of Awassa for you to explore.
Located on the wall of one of the mountains near Gubo, a small town in the region of Gheralta, is the church of Maryam Bezuhan from the fourteenth century (according to what they told me) this was perhaps one of the most impressive churches in the the rock I visited in Tigray Province. As in other churches in Tigray, to go inside and visit you need to first find the village priest who has the keys, so if he's not for some reason at home or in town, you can not go inside the church. After waiting for the priest and paying the 50 birs for the visit, the priest agrees to show this curious disused church and the remains of ancient paintings, prints of crosses on the roof, ancient leather books... all while fleas don't stop biting your calves.
The monastery of Debre Birhan Selassie is located less than 2 kilometers to the northeast of the town of Gondar. It was built in the seventeenth century under the reign of Emperor Yohannes I. Inside is the church you'll find arguably the most famous part of Ethiopia, translated as "Trinity in the Mountain of Light". The importance of this church lies not only in its exterior architecture, but on the treasure inside and more specifically on the roof where we can admire the winged heads of 80 angels or cherubs on the beams. They are smiling and observing the visitor with an enigmatic expression. Each face has a unique feature that sets it apart from the rest. These extraordinary frescoes were made in the late seventeenth century and are undoubtedly one of the most important mural paintings on the continent. The dim light entering inside the temple, the loneliness of the enclosure, walking around barefoot (required in all Ethiopian churches) and a number of attached elements are the ideal setting to bring the visitor a feeling of wonder. Also the historical and religious scenes portrayed on the side walls are worth a look.
Bet Medhane Alem (House of the Redeemer of the World) is the highest and most extensive of all the churches of Lalibela. Fully carved into the rock, it is 34 meters long by 24 meters wide, and has the honor of being the largest monolithic church in the world. Built in the manner of a Greek temple it is completely surrounded by pillars of square columns. On the stone block are the perfectly divine elements of the temple: Porch, ships, domes, windows and lavish decoration with reliefs form a unique collection. The church is completely surrounded by pillars (following the traditional canons of Axumite period), 18 inside and 18 outside, which for some specialists implies a clear relationship with Hebrew numerology where 18 corresponds with the numerical value of the word jai (life). Inside the church doesn't have pictorial ornamentation but the geometric reliefs of the lower windows combined with alternating semicircular and square windows of the upper zone provide beauty. In one corner, you can see three empty graves which according to tradition were excavated and symbolically held the bodies of the three biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To some historians, this temple is a replica of the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion originally located in Aksum and destroyed by the Muslims.
In the Church of the Savior of the World (be careful with the name), or Mekina-Medhani-Alem, besides being awestruck by the landscape and being subject to a rite of cleansing your sins (you pour water from the mountain on your head, filtered with a large cross, and then splash it on your face, 3 times), we saw the wonderful books from the 11th Century (although it seems that the church was built in the XII Century) and several crucifixes ... And the cross is "the" symbol, the star of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church ... It's everywhere ... Women tattoo it onto their forehead, or on their hands ... Everyone wears a small cross around their neck, often made of wood, or sometimes of stone or metal. The priests wear special bags wherever they go, whether they are going for a walk or are going to mass ... There are those who carry it in the processions, it is painted or carved on the walls of houses, churches and surroundings ... And what about the most amazing building, a church in a cross carved into the rock! (Bete Giorgis, or Saint George's House) ... It is a sign of the collective identity of much of the country (at least 50% are Orthodox Christians).
Walking through the nature reserve with our armed guide was quite necessary. We met some shepherd children who were very kind and we spent some time singing and dancing with them in the unique surroundings and they asked for nothing. Then we toured around and appeared at the end of the landscape of the Simien Mountains, which are a waterfall with no name but are of a beauty and hard to beat. I recommend them because they are unique and unrepeatable.
The Monastery of St. Gabriel or Gabriel Kibran is on the Zegue Peninsula on Lake Tana. This lake is the largest in Ethiopia and is the source of the Blue Nile that a few miles down becomes the waterfalls of the Blue Nile. This lake used to be full of churches and monasteries, being the oldest in Ethiopia. This monastery is unique because it has men and women, who are mostly dedicated to prayer and work.
The Church of Mary or Debre Maryam is within walking distance to the monastery of Gabriel, another island in Lake Tana and near the beginning of where the lake becomes the Blue Nile. This river is crossed by boats made of papyrus (tankwas), especially fisherman. The Church got its name because it's assumed that the Virgin Mary passed through it (a big if). It's filled with colorful frescos, although they aren't frescoes strictly speaking as they are attached to the walls. These churches, monasteries and islands of Lake Tana have a special charm.
The National Park and Abiyata Shala Lakes is 200-odd km south of Addis Ababa, central Rift Valley and consists of two magnificent lakes which are huge and full of life such as fish, flamingos and other aquatic birds but what surprised me were the hot springs, which remind us that we are in volcanic soil! The water gurgles in numerous puddles and streams while local people are washing their clothes and themselves in it. They say that the waters are healing and can cure a cold and other evils. The thermal waters flow into Lake Shala which is immense. Close by are flamingos, ibis, white pelicans.
Lake Tana is the biggest of all Ethiopian lakes 85 miles in legnth and 65 wide, at a height of 1,802 m above sea level, and with a depth of about 14 meters, and full of life . There are over 37 islands, and many of them are homes to over 20 Christian churches and monasteries, constructed in the mid- 13th and early 14th centuries. This lake was known to the Greeks as "the lake copper" or "the jewel of Ethiopia", and is powered by more than 60 rivers ... tIn numbers it is quite impressive. Passing by boat is a relaxing exercise! Take advantage to go see some of the monasteries that allow tourists to visit, because not all of them allow it!. They say that here are the true sources of the Blue Nile Falls and a little further south, when it began its journey to the Mediterranean. In fact, there is a point where the water changes color, which can be seen perfectly, and this is the place. To visit and spend a few days or however long you want, it's best to go to Bahar Dar, a city which is precisely in the "south end" of the lake, near the Blue Nile leaves Lake, and it is really a nice city, full of life and very quiet, pretty good weather, all kinds of restaurants and services, reported ... In fact, it is a kind of capital of northwest Ethiopia. And the truth is that, although we had little time to walk around, but we quite liked the Addis Ababa in all respects, though it has no relevant aesthetic appeal (monuments or something). A good place to stop and rest of the emotions that this great country offers. :-)
The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is an unforgettable place full of landscapes that seem like they're from another planet. It's the home of the Afar nomads who roam the arid lands in their camel caravans, hauling blocks of salt from the salt likes to sell in the city. Dallol is one of the world's deepest depressions and the lowest point on the African continent (125 meters below sea level).
The Dallol salt lakes with their surreal colors and shapes really make you feel like you're in another world. There are incredible lakes of sulfur that shine in bizarre shades of green, brown, and yellow, fragile calcium formations and smoking geysers. The area, in fact, is home to 40% of Africa's active volcanoes, the most famous of which is Erta Ale. In the evenings or early mornings, you can scale the volcano to see the pool of lava in the crater while the sunrise/sunset lights up the horizon.
You start at Mekele towards Ahmed Ela via Berehale, where you need to pick up your permits to enter the Afar region. On the way, you see long carmel caravans heading the Mekele to sell their salt. There's now a new highway which makes the trip (5hrs.) to Ahmen Ela, home of the Afar nomads, a lot easier. It's an amazing experience to share the traditions and way of life of these people. The majority of the Afar as nomads who raise sheep, goats, cows, and camels. Here, a man's wealth is measured by the size of his flock.
But not all the Afar raise livestock. Many work in the Danakil Depression extracting huge quantities of salt during the dry season and later forming them into blocks. While some areas in Africa permit polygamy, the Afar are monogamous. Meat and milk are the main components of the Afar diet and milk is traditionally an important offering here.
The Afar live in camps surrounded by walls of thorns which helps protect them against wild animals and aggressive tribes. Their huts, called "ari," are oval-shaped and made of palm branches and can be easily transported. It's an overwhelming experience. It is literally like being on another planet...everything from the colors of the endless geysers to the salt and camel caravans...the active volcanoes and the unreal colors of the lakes...everything is in constant flux and full of life.
There are very, very few places as incredible as Dallol.