Mt Entoto

Saturday, December 13, 2014
Addis Ababa, Mirab Shewa, Ethiopia
Leaving Genet's car at the National Museum, we got into a local mini-van bus. Oh to be much smaller in size crammed into the back of the mini-van! Genet then managed to secure the services the mini-van that was taking the locals part way along the road, to take us all the way up to the top of Mt Entoto, the site of Menelik's former capital.

Mount Entoto (Amharic: እንጦጦ?) is the highest peak overlooking the city of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and has views of the city. It reaches 3,200 meters above sea level and is part of the Entoto mountain chain.

It is a historical place where Emperor Menelik II resided and built his palace, when he came from Ankober and founded Addis Ababa. It is considered a sacred mountain and has many monasteries. Mount Entoto is also the location of a number of celebrated churches, including Saint Raguel and Saint Mary.

The mountain is densely covered by eucalyptus trees that were imported from Australia during the reign of Menelik II, and mostly planted during Emperor Haile Selassie's reign. Thus, it is sometimes referred to as the "lung of Addis Ababa". The forest on the mountain is an important source of firewood for the city. It was also a source of building material in earlier times.

The Ethiopian Heritage Trust, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, is working actively to change part of the mountain to its old state, a natural park. Entoto Natural Park is the northeastern rim of Addis Abeba, on the southeastern slopes of Mt. Entoto, covering an area of 1,300 hectares. It is situated at an altitude of between 2,600 and 3,100 meters. Its annual average rainfall and temperature are 1200 mm and 14C, respectively. The northern rim of the park serves as a watershed between the Abay (Blue Nile) and Awash rivers. Thanks Mr Wikipedia.

At the top was the Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu Memorial Museum where we had to lock our bags into lockers and it was a NO camera inside. It contained an interesting collection of ceremonial clothing and religious items. I truly hope that one day they can better preserve this small yet impressive collection.

Next to this was the octagonal colourful Entoto Maryam Church which we did not see inside.

Finally the original palace was visited. Oh, how small some of the rooms were and thick the walls were. I can see being up in the hills how much cooler it would be.

At the rear was the original eucalyptus tree from Australia now over 100 years old ….

My lasting impression would not be of the great views of Addis below, including that of the US Embassy green lawns, but of the ladies walking down the hill with the firewood loaded on their back that they have collected and going down to sell. Yes, surely a truck would take care of this but that is another story.

Back down the hill to the National Museum where Genet had left her car and it was time for lunch.





Walking from the carpark to Finfine Abarash (Adarash, means Hall) / Fin Fin (Yohanis St) for lunch was apparently a "no photo" zone because of the neighbouring National Palace … how was I to know? My selective hearing playing up again?

Nic and I were introduced to both traditional Ethiopian food and Ambo or fruit flavoured sparkling mineral water.

This restaurant is in a building complex which apparently was built for a past queen of Ethiopia in the location of a hot spring which was turned into a sauna/bath complex for her.

Sitting in the galleried upstairs area under the exposed dark wooden beams, we were one of the few faranjis / foreigners there.
Genet order a full platter to share between the 3 of us and explained what each little pile of food was all about. The food we had there was called BEYEAYENETU. It means assorted dishes, so the dishes were TIBIS, fried beef, KEY WOT, spicy lamb stew, ALICHA WOT, non-spicy lamb stew, DORO WOT, spicy chicken sauce, AYEB, cottege cheese and GOMEN, Spinach (local spinach type). These were the type of dishes we had on top of the ENJERA!! The base being "enjera" / injera or a pancake made from a small grain called teff.

The food is on a shared platter and is rolled up in the injera which one tears off and eaten with your right hand. That is why no knives and forks let alone a spoon were there. Some say that injera is a bit sour. Anyway it is fibre rich bran and nutritious germ containing 15% protein, 3% fat and has 82% complex carbohydrates. Good looking injera has plenty of bubbles … similar in some ways to bubbles when cooking a pancake. Perhaps I should have had more injera on the trip to lose some weight?

This is an excellent illustrated overview of Ethiopian food.

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