Awash National Park AM Game Drive
Alarm set for 5.30 am well before the sun decided to rise for the day. A 6 am breakfast before we departed 40 minutes later for a 13 km drive through the Illala Sala Plains to the park main entrance.
First stop was the rather sad looking Kereyou Lodge perched high above the Awash Gorge with all those 23 caravans parked up as accommodation.
On route we saw Salt's dik dik, beisa oryx, Soemmerring's gazelle, warthog and vultures.
Awash > Harar
We had aimed to get to Harar at 11 am, 300 kms away as this would give us the afternoon to explore the wall city. I don’t know why we went along a rather winding twisting yet beautiful sealed road in its own way along what seems the Chercher mountain tops via Kulubi rather than via Dire Dawa. Anywhere where they could terrace they could so the area was rich in agriculture with it being densely cultivated mostly with sorghum. Patches of juniper and eucalyptus trees dotted the landscape as well.
Lunch at Fresh Touch and what I had read in the reviews proved right on the button. Great pizza for 80 birr / NZ$5.30 / US$3.90! Of course had to have Harar beer in Harar!!!
Harar – 5 City Gates
Harar is the 4th holiest city for Muslims after Meca, Medina and Jerusalem. It is the spiritual heart of Ethiopia’s large Islamic community and center of Muslim learning in Ethiopia with over 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century and 102 shrines. A city of mosques, minarets, and markets, it will be so different to what I am about to experience up north with the Christian monuments.
Harar is also the centre of a large chat growing area.
Arthur Rimbaud Center
Near the middle of the walled city and often mistakenly called Rimbaud’s House, is this museum dedicated to the poet Arthur Rimbaud. It has a series of illustrated wall panels mainly in French about his life. It’s in an attractive Indian merchant house built on the site of an earlier house where it’s said Rimbaud lived.
I just loved the coloured stained glass windows up on the first floor and capturing the city views through them.
Harar Grand Market
A quick stop into the Nure Roasted Harar Coffee where they were roasting some of their local coffee beans.
Just down from Arthur Rimbaud Center was the central Gidir Megala or Grand Market. Of interest with this Market was open air meat section and vultures ready for a feed.
The main attraction is the city itself with its crowded markets, quiet back alleys and mixture of Ethiopian, Egyptian, Arab, and Italian architecture. The whitewashed Harari stone houses some brightly decorated, children coming and going and little souvenirs shops that are so easy to miss.
Harar’s most famous attraction is the hyena man. Just outside the city southern wall Yusuf Pepe feeds nightly the hyenas.
While they are wild, I saw them more of Yusuf own pet tame dogs as he was calling them by name. At first, he fed them with his hands, then he puts the meat on a stick which he puts in his mouth. There is even a picture of him cuddling one of them.
At first I didn’t want to feed these elusive animals up close and personal and was quite content to try and take clear hand held photos with the available limited light by the 4 x 4 and tuktuks or Bajajs parked there. My monopod was back in the hotel! Trouble the tourists kept standing in front of the light source.
I suppose that I see these as dirty ferocious animals kind of at the bottom of the food chain cleaning up after the other scavengers have done their work. They are Africa’s second largest predator and potentially dangerous. Perhaps they are more afraid of us than us of them? In the end I relented …
HIGHLIGHTS Fri 26 Dec: Harar
Friday, December 26, 2014
Harar, Harari, Ethiopia