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Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA Address: HERITAGE PLAZA, 2ND FLOOR, NUMBER: 2231, KEBELE 03, ADDIS ABABA Telephone: 011 6627781 / 82 Fax: 011 6627786 E-Mail:


Letter from the editor Dear Readers, Welcome to the winter season edition of Visit 2 Ethiopia Tourism Magazine. Imagine a place where we can vividly observe past legends in the present time. Imagine a land where religious ritual is the centre to the life of the town, with regular processions, extensive fasts, crowds of singing and dancing priests. Imagine a place that combined an extraordinary religious architecture and simplicity of life. Imagine a town with one tenth of its residents is priests and monks. Imagine a breathtaking landscape and undisrupted historical and cultural heritage pass over from generation to generation. Well, don’t go far! This land is Lalibela, with distinctively timeless, in an almost Old Testament biblical ambiance. I have dedicated this season edition to one of the Eighth Wonder of the World “Lalibela” or most referred it as the “New Jerusalem”, to raise concern for its protection and for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism to Ethiopia. Current government has taken certain steps for the national heritages protection. It has given top priority for the construction of the infrastructure in and around the tourist sites and tourist facilities as the part of the growth and transformation plan. Peace and security that the country enjoys, will ensure our tourist attraction resources getting due attention. As Lalibela, other listed world heritage sites by UNESCO and possibly new candidate sites in the country, required responsible tourism and every stakeholder’s contribution for their protection and continuity for the generations to come. It is every responsible and sensible tourist moral obligation to stop unlawful acts on heritages artifacts and religious icons. Ethiopia has a lot to offer to the world tourism activities.

Natural attractions like the breathtaking chains of the Semien Mountains National Park with the endemic wild life and birds is one of the best mountain trekking fields in Africa, the 9 national parks which resides diversified fauna and flora, the rift valley lakes for bird watchers, the falls, landscapes and many more natural sites that guarantees satisfaction to our visitors. Cultural sites with more than 80 ethnic groups with 200 dialects and historical sites with rock hewn and cave churches in Lalibela and in Tigray at the Gheralta clusters, ancient tombs, staleas, monuments and inscriptions in Axum, the 37 island monasteries on Lake Tana that have precious icons, religious costumes, crowns of emperors, its festivals and ritual ceremonies and many more artifacts that ensures, Ethiopia is truly a land of beyond all your imaginations. Local tour operators have made their preparation to welcome you to Ethiopia. Do contact them for your next trip plan to the land of full of wonders, diversified attractions and discoveries. As usual lots thanks for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, for their continued assistance and sharing our mission to promote tourism. Special thanks for the tour operators who shared our feelings and for their immense contribution to materialize our ambition in building a better image for the country and impacting the tourism sector. The last but not the least, big thanks and grateful for all our contributors and supporters to make it happen. With this I tried to inspire you in making your next destination Lalibela, “New Jerusalem”. Enjoy the reading! Happy to see you in Ethiopia and once again be welcome! Tewodros Merawi Director/Editor-in-chief

PLEASE NOTE: While reasonable precautions have been taken, to ensure the accuracy of advice and information provided; neither Visit 2 Ethiopia Magazine, nor its advertisers, nor printers can accept responsibility for any damages or inconvenience that may arise there from. The views expressed within the magazine are those of the author exclusively and not necessarily those of Visit 2 Ethiopia. Any material sent to us will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and will be subject to Visit 2 Ethiopia unrestricted right to edit and comment editorially. Copyright © 2010 by V2E TMP & Advertising (Ethiopia)

CONTENTS 3. 6. 8. 14. 18. 20. 22. 28. 36. 37.

Editorial Table of Contents LALIBELA, the “New Jerusalem” In het hartland van de Ethiopische legenden Ethiopia, Birding Paradise of Africa La Nouvelle Jérusalem Bale Mountains National Park Tribus en el Omo Valley Ethiopia in Brief Ethiopia Tourism Offices

Publisher: V2E TMP Advertising Boulvard du Jubile 90 Bte 1 1080 Brussels, Belgium Tel: +32.485.583.631 Email: In Ethiopia: V2E TMP Advertising Kirko Kifle Ketema Kebele: 27 House No: 338 2nd Floor Bole Road Infront of Mega Building Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tel: +251.913.62.73.38 +251.911.16.26.53 Director/Editor-in-chief: Tewodros MERAWI Deputy Editor-in-chief: Yves MATONGO Manager: Mesfin Fisseha Sales and Marketing: Tewodros MERAWI Traffic & IT-master: Yacin Abdillahi

Text Contributors: Gilbert Roox Sylvie DAUVILLIER Min. of Culture and Tourism In Partnership with

Photos contributors: Hassen Abdulwase Teddy Min. of Culture and Tourism Flicker

Treasury Manager: Tiku Tesfasilassie Email: Layout/Design: Alain EKENGE Distribution: Europe wide travel agencies / Tour operators / Tourism board / Cultural center/ Expo/ Travel trade shows / Consulars and Embassies / NGOs offices... etc.

Concept and directing: Tewodros Merawi

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LALIBELA, the “New Jerusalem”


Visiting Lalibela is like falling into a scene in the Old Testament.. «If you wander between the churches in the thin light of morning, when white-robed hermits emerge, Bible in hand, from their cells to bask on the rocks, and the chill highland air is warmed by Eucharistic drumbeats and gentle swaying chants, you can’t help but feel that you are witnessing a scene that is fundamentally little different to the one that has been enacted here every morning for century upon century» Philip Briggs, Bradt Travel Guide.


ver since the first European to describe the rock churches of Lalibela, Francisco Alvarez, came to this holy city between 1521 and 1525, travellers have tried to put into words their experiences. Praising it as a “New Jerusalem”, a “New Golgotha”, the “Christian Citadel in the Mountains of Wondrous Ethiopia”. The inhabitants of the monastic township of Roha-Lalibela in Lasta, province of Wollo, dwelling in two storey circular huts with dry stonewalls, are unable to believe that the rock churches are entirely made by man. They ascribe their creation to one of the last kings of the Zagwe dynasty, Lalibela, who reigned about 1200 A.D. The Zagwe dynasty had come to power in the eleventh century, one hundred years after Queen Judith, a ferocious woman warrior had led her tribes up from the Semien mountains to destroy Axum, the capital of the ancient Ethiopian empire in the north. Lalibela is a remote village in the northern part of Ethiopia, perched at 2630 meters in craggy mountains, which is famous for rock- hewn churches. These are an incredible accomplishment from the 12th Century, made even more astonishing by the lack of any adequate explanation of how they were built, when there is no archaeological evidence of there having been a community large enough to have provided the labor. The charming Ethiopian folklore pictures telling the story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, which are sold in Addis Ababa,


give a popular version of how not only the dynasty of ancient Axum (and present day Ethiopia) descended from King Solomon, but also the medieval Zagwe dynasty. The Queen of Sheba gave birth to Menelik, who became the first King of Ethiopia. But the handmaid of the Queen, too, gave birth to a son whose father was King Solomon, and her son was the ancestor of the Zagwe dynasty. The Zagwe kings ruled until the thirteenth century, when a famous priest, Tekle Haymanot, persuaded them to abdicate in favour of a descendant of the old Axumite Solomonic dynasty. However, according to legend before the throne of Ethiopia was restored to its rightful rulers, upon command of God and with the help of angels, Lalibela’s pious zeal converted the royal residence of the Zagwe in the town of Roha in to a prayer of stone. The Ethiopian Church later canonized him and changed the name of Roha to Lalibela. Roha, the centre of worldly might, became Lalibela the holy city; pilgrims to Lalibela shared the same blessings as pilgrims to Jerusalem, while the focus of political power drifted to the south, to the region of Shoa. Legends flower in Lalibela, and it is also according to legend that Lalibela grew up in Roha, where his brother was king. It is said that bees prophesied his future greatness, social advance and coming riches. The king, made jealous by these prophecies about his brother tried to poison him, but the poison merely cast Lalibela into a death like sleep for three days. During these three days an angel carried his soul to heaven to show

him the churches which he was to build. Returned once more to earth he withdrew into the wilderness then took a wife upon God’s command with the name of Maskal Kebra (Exalted Cross) and flew with an angel to Jerusalem. Christ himself ordered the king to abdicate in favour of Lalibela. Anointed king under the throne name Gabre Maskal (Servant of the Cross) Lalibela, living himself an even more severe monastic life than before, carried out the construction of the churches. Angels worked side by side with the stone masons, and within twenty four years the entire work was completed.

Rock hewn churches Walking through the village you will see the mountainous landscape of the region of Lasta, where the peasants labour to cultivate their patches of stony fields with the traditional hook-plough. Strolling across a gently undulating meadow, you will suddenly discover in a pit below you a mighty rock - carefully chiselled and shaped -the first rock church. None of these monuments of Christian faith presents itself to the visitor on top of a mountain as a glorious symbol of Christ’s victory, to be seen from far away by the masses of pilgrims on their road to the ‘Holy City’, they rather hide themselves in the rock, surrounded by their deep trenches, only to be discovered by the visitor when standing very close on top of the rock and looking downwards. In Lalibela itself you will find two main groups of churches, one on each side of the river Jor-

A land beyond all your imaginations

dan and one other church set apart from the rest. The town of Roha-Lalibela lies between the first and the second group of churches. It is situated on the higher part of a mountain-terrace on a vast plateau of rock. At Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany. ca. January 19) a vivid ritual unfolds before the spectator: here the dances of the priests take place after the annual repetition of mass baptism in the river Jordan.

Types of Churches There are three basic types of rock churches in Ethiopia: 1. Built-up cave churches, which are ordinary structures inside a natural cave (Makina Medhane Alem and Yemrehanna Krestos near Lalibela are examples of this style). 2. Rock-hewn cave churches, which are cut inwards from a more or less vertical cliff face sometimes using and widening an existing natural cave (Abba Libanos in Lalibela). 3. Rock-hewn monolithic churches, which imitate a built- up structure but are cut in one piece from the rock and separated from it all round by a trench. Most churches of this type are found in or near Lalibela (Bet Medhane Alem. Bet Maryam. Bet Giorgis, and others). Nowhere else in the world are constructions of this particular kind found. There are some fairly obvious technical details to prove the high standard of technical knowledge the architects of Lalibela must have had: the churches in a group are set on several levels, in order to carry off the heavy summer rains. The trenches serve also as a drainage system to the river Jordan. With churches whose placing conforms to the slope of the terrain, the ridge of the roof, gutter edges, the base of the plinth, are slanted in line with it. Whoever has experienced the «rainy

season» in Ethiopia will appreciate the great skill shown by these early builders. The rains are so heavy that Lalibela is inaccessible in the rainy season; landing at the airport as well as an approach by Land-Rover from the main road are impossible. Authorities claim that the rock churches in Ethiopia have two roots: (1) the Axumite architecture with its palaces of wood and stone construction and with its monolithic stelae, and (2) the early Christian basilica. The rock churches reflect the blending of Axumite tradition and early eastern Mediterranean Christianity; yet they are an entirely new creation of early Christian art on Ethiopian soil. There are twelve churches and chapels, including various shrines. Four churches are monolithic in the strict sense; the remainder are excavated churches in different degrees of separation from the rock. The walls of the trenches and courtyards contain cavities and chambers sometimes filled with the mummies of pious monks and pilgrims.

The First Group of Churches; The churches of the first main group lie in their rock cradles one behind the other north of the river Jordan. The original approach might well have been from the river Jordan up to the churches Golgota-Debre Sina (Mika’el) in the west. The whole complex, seen in an east-westerly direction, may be divided into three smaller groups: Bet Medhane Alem in the east, the Bet Maryam group in the centre, and the twin church Golgota- Debre Sina (Mika’el) with the Selassie Chapel in the west.

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ETHIOPIA it can only be reached through a tunnel which is entered from some distance away through a trench. Small round caves and chambers have been found in the walls of the courtyard graves for pious pilgrims and monks.


The church is described as Lalibela’s «most elegant» and «refined» in its architecture and stonemasonry. Although its floor plan is of a cross with nearly equal arms the church is properly orientated, the main entrance being in the west, the holy of holies in the east.

Exterior Like a tower the cruciform church cut out of the pink tuff rises from its triple-stepped platform, the regularity of which is broken only by the landings in front of the three doorways in the west, north and south. The roof decoration, often represented as the symbol of the Lalibela monuments on photographs and postcards, is a relief of three equilateral Greek crosses inside each other. On the north, south and west sides, gutters and spouts drain the water from the roof. One of the more sophisticated details of Bet Giorgis is that the wall thickness increases step by step downwards but that the increase is cleverly hidden by the horizontal bands of mouldings on the exterior walls.

Interior Despite the orientation you will find that the interior of the church follows the cruciform floor plan of the church. There are no genuine pillars; instead four three-sided pilasters with corbels support the arches. The dome above the sanctuary in the eastern arm of the church is decorated with a croix pattee in relief, while the flat ceiling of the other arms display a straight relief cross: The ceiling of the intersection is left without decoration.

While each sub-group has a courtyard of its own, the whole complex is surrounded by a deep outer trench. ·Bet Medhane Alem (House of the Redeemer of the World) -The Chapel of Bet Maskal (The House of The Cross) Bet Danaghel (The House Of The Virgins or Martyrs). ·Bet Debre Sina (House of Mt. Sinai) and Bet Golgota (The House of Golgotha). ·The Selassie Chapel (The chapel of Trinity) and the Tomb of Adam

The Second Group of Churches The second group comprises from east to west, the churches and sanctuaries of Bet Emanuel, Bet Mercurios, Bet Abba Libanos, the Chapel of Bet Lehem and Bet Gabriel-Rufa’el. Approaching the town of Roha-Lalibela from the south, you will see, south of the river Jordan, a bastion of red tuff severed from the rock plateau in the north, east and south by a broad artificial outer trench, eleven metres deep.


Other Churches Near Lalibela Another deep central trench cuts this area into two parts, leaving at its end a cone-shaped hill. An old entrance led from this central trench to the sanctuaries mainly by way of narrow subterranean passages. The original function of this complex of churches has not yet been clarified. Two of them were certainly planned as such, Bet Emanuel and Bet Abba Libanos. They have a proper church plan and are oriented to the east. Bet Emanuel Bet Mercurios BetAbba Libanos (The House OfAbba Libanos) Bet Lehem (The Chapel Of Bethlehem) Bet Gabriel-Rufa’el (The House of Gabriel and Raphael or The House of the Archangels) Bet Giorgis (The House of St. George)

Bet Giorgis The monolithic Bet Giorgis - dedicated to the national saint of Ethiopia is isolated from the other two groups of churches. It is located in the southwest of the village on a sloping rock terrace. In its deep pit with perpendicular walls

There are several other churches in the vicinity: the churches of the Bilbala district, including the beautiful built up cave church of Yemrehanna Krestos, the tiny rock church Arbatu Entzessa, Bilbala Gioris and Bilbala Cherqos as well the church of Sarsana Mika’el. Among these churches, Yemrehanna Krestos is remarkable church located six hours by foot and mule to the northeast of Lalibela, on the mountain ridge the peak of which is Abuna Yosef. It is a built-up cave church in Axumite wood and stone construction. The church has become famous for the decoration of its interior. The flat-span roof displays panelling richly adorned with geometrical designs. The ceiling over the sanctuary is domed and displays carvings and paintings. The founder of the church is said to have been King Yemrehanna Krestos, a predecessor of King Lalibela. Lalibela also is famous for holy crosses. Lalibela crosses very often have bird heads at the sides and have a crown of stylized human figures as symbols of the twelve apostles; the finial cross then represents Christ. Birds (doves) are often depicted together with the cross.

A land beyond all your imaginations

Noble Conference and Tours PLC (Member of ETOA, JATA and ATA)

Noble Conference and Tours PLC is wholly Ethiopian owned tour company with many years of experience in tourism sector. Since 2004 the company has enlarged its business scope and has been devoted as tour operator and committed to the development of different forms of tourism. Noble Conference and Tours PLC is “Just Created to Contribute to Your Interest” We are in mission of tourism for sustainable development in preserving nature, historical and cultural heritages by contributing and sharing our benefit to the local communities. To achieve our vision, NCT staffed with highly experienced and well qualified tour operators, driver-guides, tour coordinators. At the same time, the company is equipped with modern, latest and comfortable vehicles which are appropriate to the Ethiopian climate and road conditions. Being a leading inbound tour operator in Ethiopia, we are able to provide the best rate for the quality of services. Our reward is to have satisfied visitors leaving our country.

The swastika shapes found in Lalibela should not be confused with the old sun symbol found for example in Europe and in India. The Lalibela swastikas were developed from the Greek cross with bent arms and were often combined to form interwoven patterns as was the case in Christian art and in the Middle Ages. The priests have developed a rich symbolism, every pattern having a different meaning. Three- tipped crosses refer to the Trinity; five incised circles or indentations represent the wounds of Christ. However, these decorative patterns often are interpreted differently according to the schooling of the individual priest. Come on your next vacation, we will make worth visit “New Jerusalem.” References: the ancient and

Our service includes: • Historic route and Cultural Safari • Adventure tour • Pilgrimage tour • Bird watching • Car and camping equipment rental • Hotel and lodge booking • Logistic support for documentary film crew • Organizing National and Intenational Conference/Workshops • Organizing and managing events and exhibitions • Pre and post conference tours And much more… Contact us for next trip to Ethiopia Tel: +251-11-550567 / 011-5505577 Mob: +251-911-01225/0910766985 Email: or P.O.Box 25504 code 1000, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

October 2010 | 11

ABEBA TOURS ETHIOPIA Join us and discover the richness of Ethiopia’s tradition

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IN HET HARTLAND VAN DE ETHIOPISCHE LEGENDEN Nee, de bewaker van de ark des verbonds heeft geen zin om ons te zien. Op het uur van de afspraak houdt hij zich schuil in het poppenhuisachtige pavijoentje waar volgens alle Ethiopiërs sinds eeuwen de koffer met de Stenen Tafelen van Mozes, het heiligste reliek van de christelijke wereld, wordt bewaard. Maar niemand die hem ooit te zien heeft gekregen, op een uitgelezen groepje priesters na wiens levensopdracht het is de ark te bewaken.”Wat bewijst dat u de waarheid spreekt en dat die ark van u echt bestaat?” vroeg een Amerikaanse journalist enkele jaren gelden botweg. Sindsdien geeft de bewaker geen interviews aan westerse media meer. We bevinden ons in Axum, het hartland vab de Ethiopische legenden. Boeren ploegen hun land met ossen tussen wegkruimelende paleisruines. Vrouwen doen dewas in het bad dat ooi taan de koningin van Sheba toebehoorde, volgens de Bijbel de exotische minnares van koning Salomo. Vandaag Axum een stoffige negorij vlakbij de grens met Eritrea, maar in de eerste eeuwen van onze tijdrekening was dit de hoofdstad van een machtig rijk dat zich uitstrekte van Sudan tot Jemen. Axum verhandelde kostbaarheden zoals zout, ivoor, wierook, obsidiaan en schildpaddenleer, en was het rijkste handelscentrum tussen Rome en Perzie. Zelfs Griekse amforen zijn hier opgegraven. Van die vergeten glorie getuigen alleen nog reusachtige oblisken die zelfs


die van Egypte overtreffen. De hoogste meet 24 meter en ter aarde ligt een nog groter exemplaar van 517 ton dat bij zijn oprichting in stukken is gebroken. Eigenlijk gaat het om stèles die de graven van koningen markeren. Ze zien eruit als flatgebouwen met gebeeldhouwde deuren en ramen: in Azum is de wolkenkrabber uitgevonden, als idee dan toch. Recht tegenover het veld met de stèles bevindt zick de kerk van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Zion, het heiligste oord van de Ethiopische Orthodoxe Kerk dat tienduizenden pelgrims trekt. De vorsten van Axum bekeerden zich al in de vierde eeuw, wat Ethiopië tot de tweede natie van het christendom maakte. Eeuwenlang lieten de negussen zich hier op de stenen troon van David tot keizer kronen. Haile Selassie, die in 1975 na een militaire coup werd omgebracht, was de laaste – nummer 225 in een dynastie die volgens het boek De glorie der koningen rechtstreeks afstamde van Salomo en de koningin van Sheba. Het zou hun zoon, menelik, geweest zijn die de ark des verbonds van Jeruzalem naar Axum overbracht. Sindsdien geldt dat reliek als icoon van de nationale identiteit: Ethiopie is het oudste land van zwart Afrika en het enige dat nooit gekoloniseerd werd. Alle Ethiopische kerken en kloosters, en dat zijn er twintigduizend, hebben een kopie van de ark in bezit. Die tabot wordt bewaard in het met voorhangen afgeschermde Heilige der Heiligen, dat allen door priesters mag betreden worden. Alleen op grote feestdagen, zoals Kerstmis en Timkat(Lichtmis),

A land beyond all your imaginations

worden ze in processies aan de gelovigen getoond, maar ook dan zijn ze altijd verpakt in kostbare deoken. Sommige hebben het formaat van een theekist, andere zijn niet veel groter dan een vloertegel. De magie zit in het verbergen. Vraag het maar aan de kunstenaar Christo, die met inpakken een fortuin verdiende.

Nieuw Jeruzalem Brommerige gezangen galmen in het ochtendgloren door de gewelven van Het Huis van de Redder van de wereld. Het is Ge’ez, een dode liturgische taal die in de nevel der tijden teruggaat tot de koningen van Axum. Wierook walmt. Priesters met afrokapsel en lange, witte gewarden schoudestukken roeren de trom of staan op hun gebedsstokken heen en weer te wiegen. Dit zou een tafereel uit de wereld van het Oude Testament kunnen zijn. Het Huis van de Redder van de Wereld is de grootste van de elf rotskerken van Lalibela, erkend als werelderfgoed door UNESCO. Als Lalibela elders dan in Ethiopië zou liggen, was het een wereldwonder zoals de piramiden van Egypte, nu is het nauwelijks bekend: hoop en al 20.000 buitenlandse toeristen melden zich per jaar. De kerken van Lalibela zijn uit één stuk vulkanische tufsteen gehouwen in de twaalfe eeuw, te midden van een van de desolaaste landschappen van Ethiopië. Veertigduizend gelovigen zouden er 23 jaar lang aan gewerkt hebben. De bouwheer was koning Lalibela, die na de verovering van het Heilige Land door de Arabieren een Nieuw Jeruzalem in het hart van Afrika wilde bouwen. Je hebt hier een Sinaïkerk en een kerk van Golgotha. De omringende heuvels dragen namen als Tabor en Ararat, en de site wordt doorsneden door een river die Jordaan heet. Lalibela is het Heilige Land in miniatuur, met schijngraven van Adam, de aartsvaders Abraham, Isaak en Jacob, en zelfs een graf waarin een gebeeldhouwde Christus zonder gezicht ligt. Donkere

tunnels leiden in dit religieuze themapark de gelovigen door de hel en de waaghals die de smalle, steile rotsgraat naar de hooggelegen kerk van Gabriël en Rafaël oversteekt zonder zijn nekte breken, mag zich verzekend weten van het Rijk der Hemelen. Lalibela is geen openluchtmuseum, het leeft. Zeker tijdens Timkat, als een uitzinnige menigte van tienduizende peligrims hier de helenacht bidt en danst. Het kruismotief is alomtegenwoordig in de architectuur van Lalibela, in meer dan twintig verschillende vormen: van het Griekse kruis over het maltezer en het sint-andries-kruis tot de swastika. In het piepkleine Huis van Maria is zelfs een kruis binnen een joodse davidster te zien – ‘het zaad van Salomo’, weet u wel. Daar bevindt zich ook de beroemde Zuil van het Licht, ooit stralend als een baken in de nacht maar nu ingepakt in dikke stoffen. De zuil zou overdekt zijn met inscripties in het Ge’ez , het Hebreeuws en het Oudgrieks, die volgens de overlevering uitsluitsel geven over de geschiedenis van de ark en het einde der tijden. Westerse wetenschappers hebben al druk gelobbyd om de opschriften te mogen onderzoeken , maar vooralsnog vergeefs. Of we niet even acheter het doek mogen peipen? ‘Geen denken aan’, zegt de priester streng. ‘Voor gewone stervelingen is de straling te gevaarlijk.’ Om dezelfde redenen worden zelfs de kopiën van de ark alleen veilig ingepakt aan de mensheid getoond. Herinner u de bijbellessen: de power van de ark deed de muren van Jaricho instorten, hij zwierde zijn dragers de lucht in en doode elke onverlaat die zich to dicht waagde. In 1997 werd het Heilig Kruis van Lalibela, zeven kilo puur goud, gestolen. Pas tweejaar later dook hij bij een douanecontrole in Brussel in de reiskoffer van een naar verluidt argeloze antiquair op. Het reliek is intussen weer terecht. Westerse trofeeënjagers zijn ook tuk op oude bijbels in geitenhuid en tabots. Maar het is niet daarom dat de priesters van Axum hun ark ver-

October 2010 | 15



v bergen, krijgen we te horen. Het zijn veeleer de trofeeënjagers zelf die moeten beschermd worden tegen de occulte krachten van de ark.

Disneyland In Ruïne Middeleeuse burchten in Afrika: het is een onwerkelijk gezicht. In Gondar kun je er binnen de wallen van de koninklijke stad uit de zeventiende eeuw zomaar even zes zien. Portugezen hielpen ze bouwen: het lijkt wel een Disneyland in ruïne. Een bezoek aan de laatste Falasha is een aardig extraatje. En ook in Gondar struikelen we weer over de ark. Keizer Fasil bouwde er speciaal een kerk voor, met honderden engelenkopjes die je overal vanaf het plafond aanstaren, maar hij kreeg de heiligeste van alle relieken niet uit de klauwen van Axum. In die dagen gold: wie de ark bezat, was de baas. Het was een spritueel vehikel van de wereldlijke macht. Ook een klooster nabij het meer van Tana, de bron van de Blauwe Nijl waar nog altijd papyrusbootjes varen, gaat er prat op dat het eeuwenlangdienst deed als schuiloord voor de ark des verbonds. De kerken daar zien eruit als reusachtige, ronde hutten. Binnenin zijn ze versierd met metershoge volkse stripverhalen uit de Bijbel, geschilderd op doek: woeste Sint-Jorissen die de draak van het heidendom


spiesten, aartsengelen met vlammende ogen, kannibalen en centauren. Maar nergens is, merkwaardig genoeg, ook maar één spoor van de veelbesproken ark des verbonds te bekennen. Die is taboe, mag blijkbaar niet afgebeeld worden. Hoe onzichtbaarder hij is, hoe groter zijn symbolische kracht. ‘Heeft Ethiopië echt de historisch ark des verbonds van Salomo?’ Eigenlijk doet die vraag weinig tezake’, meent een intellectueel in het kosmopolitische Addis Abeba, waar disco’s Concorde heten en het Sheraton suites met butler verhuurt aan de kapiteins van de ontwikkelingsindustrie. Samen bekijken we zijn foto’s van het voorbije Tikmatfeest in Gondar. Alle Tabots uit de omgeving zijn verzameld bij het bad van het Fasil. Er wordt gezongen en gedanst, en op het hoogtepunt van de euforie nemen honderden peligrims geheel gekleed een duik in het water, waarmee ze het doopsel van Christus overdoen. ‘De geschiedenis heeft zijn waarheid, de mythe een andere’, zegt de intellectueel. ‘En als zoveel mensen eeuwebkang geloofd hebben in de mythe, dan wordt die vanzelf een historisch feit. Zonder de ark zou Ethiopië niet Ethiopië zijn’. By Gilbert Roox

Designed by Visit 2 Ethiopia




Ethiopia, Birding Paradise of Africa Ethiopia provides habitat for more than 850 species of birds, of these, 16 are wholly restricted to the political boundaries of the country and thus are endemics; fourteen other birds are shared with Eritrea. There are 214 Palarctic migrants occurring in Ethiopia, of these, 45 species have been found during summer with in the boundaries of the country, a large number of these birds have breeding population in Ethiopia.


ith Chapter Tour Operation your bird watching experience will never be the same again. As the main essences of our company are nature and culture, we have cautiously prepared our itinerary to suit our high esteemed guest best interest. That is why we have detailed important birding areas of Ethiopia with our suggested program for bird watching amateurs and professionals. It is possible to make birding tour and mini safari with in fifteen days at Awash National Park, Bale Mountains National Park, The Great Rift Valley, and Yabello area.

Day 01: Arrive Addis Ababa, greeted by CTO and transfer to Ghion Hotel, which has very extensive grounds, among the species spotted here are the White-backed Black Tit and the brown Tit Warbler. After breakfast 08:30 drive to Debrezeith town which is situated on the main high way to the eastern and southern parts of Ethiopia. Three of the lakes in the area have been identified as having large congregation of water birds. Both great and long tailed cormorants, Hammer cop, African fish eagle, African paradise flycatcher are common at Lake Hora. Lunch at Nazreth After lunch drive to Awash National park 100 K.M from Nazareth and 200 K.M from Addis


national park, birding the whole day along the Awash River and water falls with a park ranger, a good opportunity to walk inside the park. Expecting to see Senegal ticknee, woodland kingfisher, Hadada ibis, and blue napped moosebird. Overnight at Awash town. Ababa via Methara town. This 756 square K.M National Park is located between Methara town and Awash town, in the semi arid low lands of the Great Rift Valley. The total number of species recorded now exceeds 460, an interesting complement of large land birds; Ostrich, Secretary bird, Kori and Arabian bustards, which are seen regularly, seven species of Bustards have been recorded in Awash national park. Expect to see Kori and Arabian bustards, Brown snake eagle, Abyssinian roller, Carmine bee eater, Black shouldered kite, White bellied go away-bird are among the few. Around 15:00 birding drive at awash and drive back to the main road to Awash town 18 K.M from the park for check-in and overnight. Over night: At Awash town. Day 02: 06:00 after breakfast drive to Awash

Day 03: 06:00 after breakfast game drive to the northern part of the park. Expect to see Abyssinian ground hornbill and Arabian bustard and also Mammals like the Hamadryas baboon, Beisa Oryx. Lunch at Nazareth town After lunch we will drive to Ziway town 115K.M branching to the left at Modjo town, on the main Addis-Moyale road the gate way to southern Ethiopia in the Great Rift Valley. Overnight at Ziway town Day 04: 08:00 after breakfast drive to the shores of lake Ziway birding the whole morning. Bird island at Ziway Lake. Expect to see different waterfowls, African jacana, Great white pelican, Yellow-billed stork and black heron (Umbrella bird) whose unusual habit of fishing with its wings raised to form and umbrella. Ziway Lake is also good place to see hippos. Around 12:30 drive back to Ziway town and continue our journey to Abyata Shalla National

A land beyond all your imaginations

Day 05: After breakfast we will drive to Wondo Genet Wabi Shebele hotel. Wondo Genet is located 70 K.M south from Abyata Shalla N. Park and 20k.m from Shashemene town. Wondo Genet area supports flocks of silver-cheeked hornbill, as well as the beautiful white-cheeked turaco. Overnight at Wondo Genet Wabi Shebele hotel Day 06: 07:00 after break fast drive to Bale Mountains National Park. Bale is found on the southeast plateau of Ethiopia about 400 K.M from Addis Ababa and 158 K.M from Shashemene. Bale is the best place to see a good range of those birds that are endemic to Ethiopia and Eritrea at least 15 endemics have been recorded. Continue our journey toward Dinsho check in to our hotels and will have a chance to walk in the Dinsho walking trail with a guide expecting to see Bale’s mountain Nyala, and different birds species spot-breasted plover, Yellow-fronted parrot, Abyssinian long claw and Abyssinian catbird. Overnight at Robe town. Day 07: After breakfast drive towards Goba town and to Senate plateau, it is cited as the world’s large afro-alpine moorland with and altitude of 3,500 to 4,500 m on the east Africa’s tallest mountains which supports the endemic Simian wolf. Overnight at Hawassa town at Lewi Resort Hawasa town is the capital of the southern peoples region 270 K.M south from Addis Ababa and 25 K.M south from Shashement town. Significant numbers of water bird species occur, particularly white-breasted cormorant, whitefaced whistling duck, spur-winged goose and red knobbed coot. Day 08: 07:00 after breakfast birding along the shores of Lake Hawassa. After lunch

drive to Dilla 90 K.M south from Hawassa. Overnight at Dilla town. Day 09: 08:00 drive to Yabelo town 210 K.M south from Dilla and 570 K.M from Addis Ababa. Dilla to Yabello marks a dramatic shift in landscape from cool, fertile highlands to the barren acacia scrub of the southern rift valley. The near by wildlife sanctuary is just 10 K.M from Yabello town. It is particularly important as a protected area for two globally threatened species of birds, white-tailed swallow and Abyssinian bush crow, and more than 210 species where recorded in this area. Short tailed lark, Northern grey tit, Abyssinian grosbeak canary, Somali sparrow, black capped social weaver are some of the common birds in and around the sanctuary. Over night at Yabello Day 10: After breakfast full day excursion inside Yabello wildlife sanctuary with a Picnic lunch. Expecting to see the endemic white tailed swallow and Abyssinian bush crow, in addition other interesting species are little spotted woodpecker, northern grey tit and Abyssinian grosbeak canary are among the few. Overnight at Yabello town. Day 11: After breakfast full day excursion to Yabelo wildlife sanctuary and Arero forest. Arero forest is located some 70 K.M from Yabello, it still occupy a small population of the endemic Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco, representing the southern most part of the species range. Another important species found in Arero forest is Salvadori’s seedeater, Pygmy Batis, Bristle-crowned starling, grey-headed social weaver are among the 160 bird species recorded at Arero forest. Overnight at Yabello town Day 12: after breakfast we will start driving back towards Addis Ababa to Hawassa town to reach in time for check in and overnight at Hawasa town. Day 13: After breakfast continue our journey back towards Addis Ababa branching

to the right towards Bale road passing Koffele town and branching to the left at Dodola junction to the Arsi highlands, passing through the fertile Arsi highlands which is locally known for extensive wheat farms. Lunch at Asela town. After lunch continue to Sodere resort to check in and over nigh at Sodere resort. Day 14: We will have a full day break to relax and also birding around the compounds. Sodere is famous for weekenders of residents of Addis Ababa with a hot spring bath and swimming pool.The compound is also good place for birding . Day 15: After breakfast drive to Addis Ababa some 120 K.M from Sodere. Lunch at Debrezeith. Continue to Addis to reach in time for check in and welfare diner at one of national restaurants with spectacular traditional music and dance. Overnight at your hotel. Day 16: Full day in Addis Ababa shopping and preparation for departure.

Park some 30 K.M with a picnic lunch. The 887 K.M square Abyata Shalla National Park is dominated by two rift valley lakes, Lake Abyata and Lake Shallala for which its named; the islands in Lake Shalla are an important breeding grounds for white pelican as well as various species of water birds including Cormorants, and Stork. During the European winter it supports thousands of migrant waders. Over night at Sabana Beach Resort at Langanoo.

Off course, we do also have customize bird watching tour, historic routes, cultural circuit, pilgrims, trekking and adventure tours or any personal interest of yours in Ethiopia according to your time and budget. Please do contact us for your next trip to Ethiopia; you will leave the country with unforgettable best memories of your lifetime. Chapter Tour Operation

December 2009 | 19





Rois ». Un ouvrage du XIVe siècle qui nourrit encore la croyance éthiopienne et dont l’empereur Haile Selassie fut le dernier souverain A se revendiquer l’héritier.


epuis l’aurore, les églises rupestres de Lalibela, dans le Lasta, laissent lancinante. Comme chaque matin, prières et chants liturgiques en Guéze, la langue religieuse, se succèdent, dans des nuages d’encens. « Ils chantent le service divin, un bâton à la main, forment un cercle à la façon d’un chœur et hurlent comme des loups… », S’étonnait Louis de la Rochechourt, évoque de Saintes, au XVe siècle. Paysage bibliques, silhouettes de prêtres hiératiques, armes de croix que des fideles en guenilles embrassent humblement sur leur passage…. à quelque 2500 mètres d’altitude, perchée sur les hauts plateaux du nord, Lalibela s’enorgueillit d’être la Nouvelle Jérusalem qu’un ruisseau asséché, Jourdain symbolique, traverse de part en part. Car loin des terres de mission africaines, l’Ethiopie proclame sa foi chrétienne depuis plus de seize siècles, en mêlant Histoire et mythes derrière un voile de mystère. Une Eglise africaine avec ses rites hérite pour beaucoup de l’Ancien Testament. à Addis Abeba, assis tel un monarque sur un trône, au centre d’un salon d’apparat, Sa Sainteté Abouna Paulos, patriarche du pays, ne se lasse pas de conter les étapes de cette conversion, celles consignées en détails dans le Kebra Negast,  «  La Gloire des


« Prés de mille ans, avant Jésus-Christ, Makeda, reine de Saba, se rendit à Jérusalem pour rencontrer le rois Salomon. La bible mentionne l’épisode, explique Abouna Paulos. Mais ce qu’elle ne dit pas, c’est que la reine épousa la foi de Salomon et que de leur union naquit un fils, Menelik premier souverain d’Axoum. Adolescent, ce dernier souhaita connaitre son père qui lui proposa de lui succéder sur le trône de Jérusalem.» Menelik décline l’offre mais avant de rejoindre l’Abyssinie se l’empare de l’Arche d’ Alliance qui contient les Tables de la Loi. Vol ou suprême confiance de Salomon à son égard ? Un regard traversé de malice, Abouna Paulos répond posément : « Dieu en avait ainsi décidé. Ne croyez-vous pas que le roi Salomon, puissant comme il l’était, aurait eu le s moyens de l’arrêter? Au lieu de quoi il lui a donne une escorte de grands prêtres. » Seuls les Ethiopiens croient en cette légende, eux qui gardent encore l’Arche, jalousement à l’abri des regards, dissimulée dans une petite chapelle, à proximité de la cathédrale Notre Dame de Sion à Axoum. C’est en fait au début du IVe siècle après J.-C. que le roi Ezana se convertit au christianisme. Le bateau d’un marchand chrétien syrien ayant fait naufrage prés des cotes éthiopiennes, ses deux fils sont emmènes à la cour d’Axoum. D’abord esclaves, Frumentius et Edesius sont bientôt charges de l’éducation du jeune prince.

Une mission dont ils s’acquittent si bien que le prince, devenu le roi Ezana, les affranchit et décide de convertir. Tandis qu’Edesius rentre dans son pays pour y devenir prêtre, Frumentius, lui, se rend à Alexandrie, capitale de l’Egypte, auprès de l’évêque Saint-Athanase et averti ce dernier que le pays est prêt pour le christianisme. Ordonne évêque, Frumentius s’en retourne à Axoum. Un événement que scelle des liens profonds entre les Coptes d’Egypte et l’Eglise Tewahedo d’Ethiopie ( Jusqu’en 1951, le patriarche du pays, égyptien, sera désigne par Alexandrie). La religion, pourtant, demeure cantonnée à la cour et à la noblesse. Reste à évangéliser le pays profond. Un rôle dévolu à des ermites qui s’installent - pour d’ascétiques retraites – dans les régions le plus inaccessibles et dont la foi finit par gagner la population alentour. Parmi eux, « Les Neuf Saints  » apôtres persécutes, probablement syriens, qui trouvent refuge en Ethiopie et y fondent des monastères. Après une période de troubles et le déclin du royaume d’Axoum une nouvelle dynastie émerge au XIIe siècle. Les Zagwe sont de fervents chrétiens. Nombre de ses monarques seront sanctifier, parmi lesquels le plus célèbre, Lalibela, dont le nom signifie «  les Abeilles reconnaissent sa souveraineté », parce qu’à sa naissance, il fut recouvert d’un essaim. Lui qui règne de 1190 à 1225 environ décide d’établir sa nouvelle capitale, au sud du royaume, à Roha, qui sera plus tard rebaptisée d’après son nom. Souverain mystique et bâtisseur, Lalibela songe à créer une nouvelle Jérusalem. D’autant que les Ethiopiens rêvent de la Terre sainte mais que le

A land beyond all your imaginations

chemin pour y parvenir est long et périlleux, à travers des contrées musulmanes. Lalibela est donc conçue comme une réplique de la Ville sainte. L’Eglise Golgotha n’abrite –t- elle pas le tombeau du souverain, parfois assimilé A Jésus – Christ ? Un mythe oublié prétend même qu’un tunnel secret rejoindrait les deux cités. Il n’empêche que le mystère demeure quant à l’architecture de cette douzaine d’églises creusées d’un seul bloc dans la roche. Et si les Ethiopiens veulent croire que seule l’aide des anges a rendu possible ce miracle esthétique, il semble que leur construction ait nécessite près d’un siècle. Parmi elles, telle une sculpture cruciforme de grès rose creusée sur trois étages, Saint-Georges, considérée comme le chef-d’œuvre e l’art rupestre de Lalibela. Sous un soleil au zénith, dans un roulement envoutant de tambours, ponctue du son aigu des sistres, les prêtres, aujourd’hui, s’apprêtent A sortir solennellement le Tabot, sorte de réplique de l’Arche d’alliance. Un diacre souffle soudain dans une corne de bélier pour prévenir les croyants de l’imminence de l’événement. Sur le Tabot, petite planche de bois, sont gravés des textes relatifs au Saint-Patron de l’église. Chaque édifice possède le sien propre. Mais une fois achevé, le Tabot, conserve pieusement dans le saint des saints de l’église ne peut être touché qu’à travers une étoffe et seulement par un prêtre. Il ne quitte l’iconostase que le temps de la cérémonie de l’Epiphanie, porté sur la tête par un prêtre qu’un diacre abrite du soleil sous un parasol de brocart. Protégé par une légion de « Rois mages », -Balthazar ne régnait-il pas sur l’ancien royaume de

Saba, selon le patriarche Abouna Paulos ?- coiffés de couronnes jadis léguées par des rois ou des princes, celui de Saint-Georges rejoint en lente procession les Tabots des dix autres églises de Lalibela. Singulière débauche de fastes et de couleurs dans une des plus pauvres régions du pays. Bientôt, une forêt de croix aux formes variées précède le cortège chamarré, telle une superproduction sortie du fond des âges. La Grande Croix de Lalibela domine fièrement toutes les autres : elle a été retrouvée en Belgique après avoir été volée. Conduits par l’évêque de Lalibela, Gebre Krdan, pèlerins, moins et nonnes vêtus de safran, convergent vers la procession à travers la cité, s’appuyant parfois sur leurs crosses, jusqu’à la place baptismale où les attend un bassin en forme de croix. Toute la nuit, ils vont prier, et psalmodier. Au matin, au terme d’une autre cérémonie, ils seront bénis, à grands jets d’eau sur la foule. Fête païenne dans les éclats de rire des enfants qui ne résistent pas à se baigner dans le bassin. Plus tard, les Tabots retrouveront leur sanctuaire, au cours d’une procession-retour sans cesse interrompue de danse, de chants en guèze et de musique liturgique, celle composée par un génie musical du VIe siècle, Saint-Yared et jouée inlassablement parles dabtaras, ces musiciens assimilés au clergé. Seul

le Tabot de Bieta Mikael (église Saint-Michel) attendra encore pour rejoindre son sanctuaire, jusqu’à la fête de son Saint-Patron. Malgré deux mille ans d’isolement, l’Eglise éthiopienne, forte de ses 35,000 églises et de son millier de monastères, résiste au temps en préservant vivaces ses traditions. Son patrimoine, cependant, est menacé. Sous le patronage de l’UNESCO, maintes des églises de Lalibela sont désormais couvertes d’échafaudages pour les protéger des infiltrations d’eau de la saison des pluies. Pire, ses trésors d’art sacré – icones, croix, rouleaux de parchemins richement illustrés et surtout manuscrits –, cachés au fond de citadelles de plus en plus accessibles, suscitent la convoitise. Et le clergé paroissial est souvent trop démuni pour résister à la tentation. « J’appelle le gouvernement et les fidèles à sauver notre patrimoine qui n’est autre que l’incarnation de notre identité, répète le patriarche. L’Eglise aujourd’hui n’a plus les moyens de s’en charger. » Privée de ses biens sous la dictature Mengistu (elle a possédé le tiers des terre du pays), elle est en passe de récupérer au moins ses avoirs immobiliers ne lui suffisent pas pour entretenir cet immense patrimoine, unique au monde. Par Sylvie DAUVILLIER (POINT DE VUE)

October 2010 | 21





Bale Mountains National Park is an area of high altitude plateau that is broken by numerous spectacular volcanic plugs and peaks, beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams that descend into deep rocky gorges on their way to the lowlands below. As you ascend into the mountains you will experience changes in the vegetation with altitude, from juniper forests to heather moorlands and alpine meadows, which at various times of year exhibit an abundance of colorful wildflowers. Bale Mountains National Park is the largest area of Afro-Alpine habitat in the whole of the continent. It gives the visitor opportunities for unsurpassed mountain walking, horse trekking, scenic driving and the chances to view many of Ethiopia’s endemic mammals, in particular the Mountain Nyala and Semien Fox, and birds, such as the Thickbilled Raven, Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, and Rouget’s Rail.

Topography The Bale Mountains rise from the extensive surrounding farmlands at 2,500 m above sea level to the west, north and east. The National Park area is divided into two major parts by the spectacular Harenna escarpment that runs from east to west. North of this escarpment is a high altitude plateau area at 4,000 m altitude. The plateau is formed of ancient volcanic rocks (trachytes, basalts, agglomerates and tuffs) dissected by many Rivers and streams that have cut deep gorges into the edges over the centuries. In some places this has resulted in scenic waterfalls. From the plateau rise several mountain massifs of rounded and craggy peaks, including Tullu Deemtu the second-highest mountain in Ethiopia at 4,377 m above sea level. (Ras Dashen, near the Simien Mountains National Park in the north is the highest - 4,543 m). A major part of the central peaks area is covered by a capping of more recent lava flows and forming spectacular rock ripples and pillars. Many shallow depressions on the plateau are filled with water in the wet season, forming small lakes that mirror the surrounding scenery. Larger lakes such as Garba Guracha («black water»), Hora Bachay and Hala Weoz, contain water all year round. These many lakes provide habitat for water birds, especially migrating ducks from Europe during the northern winter.


The mountains are most famous as home and refuge of the endemic Mountain Nyala and Semien Fox. Both these mammals occur in reasonable numbers, and visits to the Gaysay area, and the Sanetti plateau will ensure you see both. The Mountain Nyala is a large antelope in the spiralhorned antelope family.

Wildlife There are more than twenty other small to largesized mammals to be seen in the Park. Some are sighted only rarely or are known by the evidence they leave -such as droppings and footprints. Menelik’s Bushbuck is a form, or subspecies, of the one commonly found over most of Africa. It is very different however, in that the adult male is a jet-black color, and both sexes are long-haired. Bushbuck are the smallest of the Mountain Nyala family that also includes the Greater and Lesser Kudu, Eland, Bongo and Sitatunga. Like these other animals, the bushbuck has spirally twisted horns and spots and stripes on the coat. However, the horns -found in the male only - are relatively short. They are relatively easy to see at Dinsho and Gaysay, and are especially plentiful in the forest and heather of the Adelay ridge. They are not found on the high plateau however which is largely devoid of vegetation cover, and have rarely been sighted at altitudes over 3,400 m.

After the Mountain Nyala, the next most common antelope is the Bohor Reedbuck. These mediumsized straw-colored antelope are found in large numbers in the flat grasslands and swamps round Gaysay Mountain. Males are easily recognized from their forward-pointing hooked horns. Reedbuck are almost only found in the Gaysay and Adelay grasslands, there being no suitable longgrass areas higher in the mountains. Grey Duikers are the smallest antelope in the Park. They occur at Gaysay and in the valleys with sufficient vegetation cover up to about 3,700 m altitude. They are usually seen alone, diving into cover. Only the males have the short straight horns. The Gaysay area guarantees every visitor views of the endemic Mountain Nyala in considerable numbers, as many as 400 have been seen here in a single afternoon. In addition there are numerous Grey Duiker, Warthog and the Menelik’s race of Bushbuck with beautiful jet-black males. Gaysay provides a good morning’s or afternoon’s wildlife watching and should on no account be missed by any visitor to the Bale Mountains.

Birdlife The Bale Mountains possess many habitats rich in birds, particularly the Harenna Forest which has been little studied.

A land beyond all your imaginations

More than one hundred and sixty species of birds are known from the Park area, but their number is certain to be added to considerably in the future. Since the Bale Mountains are isolated from other similar habitats in Africa by low and dry areas, many endemic species are found. At least twentythree species of birds are known to be endemic to Ethiopia. No less than fourteen of these species are known to occur in the Bale Mountains National Park area, and several are easily seen every day.

Walking Bale Mountains National Park is essentially a walking area. Horse treks of several days duration into the main peak area with pack and riding horses and accompanied by a guide, can be arranged through the Park authorities in Dinsho. In addition, shorter walks can be accomplished in the Dinsho area, or from anywhere along the roads and tracks mentioned above. At Dinsho Headquarters a one kilometre Nature Trail has been designed up Dinsho Hill. This gives a brief introduction to the plants and animals of the area, and the location of the main Park. There is the added opportunity of seeing Mountain Nyala at close quarters on foot, in the Sanctuary afforded by the fence around the compound. From the top of the hill (3,240 m) good views on a clear day in all directions help in understanding the layout of the Park. Walking on Gaysay hill is rewarding in terms of the views and the chances of seeing wildlife at close quarters. The physically fit will find the steep climb to the Boditi summit (3,520 m) worthwhile for a spectacular view of the Gaysay River flats and south into the main Park area.

A very enjoyable day-long walk can be had from Dinsho, up the Web valley to Gasuray peak (3,325 m). The steep Climb to the summit is through beautiful mature Hagenia and juniper forest, and into heather at the top. A traverse of the uplands to the north along the connecting spur to the Adelay ridge leads you through beautiful heather and grass glades with the strange grey tussocks of Helichrysum citrispinum -one of the «everlasting flowers». Mountain Nyala, Klipspringer. Menelik’s Bushbuck and Warthog are commonly encountered here. A steep descent off the northeast corner of Adelay brings you back down to the main road and Dinsho village.

Vegetation Grassland has formed at the forest altitude near Dinsho and at Gaysay. This is partly due to the action of man, but mainly at Gaysay through impeded drainage and marshy conditions. These grasslands include large areas of the scrubby aromatic «sagebrush « plant (Artemesia afra) -a staple foodplant of the Mountain Nyala, and the greygreen leaved «everlasting» flower (Helichrysum splendidum), which produces papery bright yellow flowers early in the wet season at this altitude. The heather zone is often burnt in an attempt by pastoralists to obtain more grassland. As a result the size of the heather (mainly Erica arborea) varies greatly -from thirty centimetre recent regrowth to five metre tall mature trees. Mature


heather trunks and stems are usually lichen and moss covered and the frequent mists also support a lush dense growth beneath them of wildflowers and

The Afro-Alpine moorlands and meadows are mainly dominated by low (50 cm) scrubby vegetation of either the «everlasting» flower genus (Helichrysum) or by Alchemilla johnstoni. Within and above the heather zone, these plants may form a continuous dense ground cover, but with increasing altitude they are reduced to tussocks with bare soil and grass clumps in between. Alchemilla predominates in wetter situations along drainage lines, while various Helichrym species dominate in flatter areas and at higher altitudes. There are more than ten different species of «everlasting» flower in the mountains -so- called because their flowers are dry and papery and last for years when picked. Flowers vary from the uncommon large red and white H. formosissimum, through many small white-flowered species including the rounded rock-like spiny cushions of H. citris pinum, to several yellow and brown-flowered species, including H. cymosum which is found at all altitudes. Several other plant genera are represented by many species here, like the Helichrysums -including many species of the small ground-covering Alchemillas. A notable plant which occurs over a broad range of altitude is the «Red-hot poker» (Kniphofia spp.). The tall spikes of red and yellow flowers can

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v be seen as early as April on the Harenna escarpment, and a few flowers persist till December. But the height of flowering is from June onwards when dense masses can be seen. They are a favourite source of nectar for the brilliant irridescent Tacazze Sunbird. In common with other high altitude areas of Eastern Africa, a few plants have developed giant forms. The meadows, stream banks, forest floor and grasslands of the Bale Mountains contain many different wildflowers. Some are minute, others large and showy; some present nearly year-round, others rarely seen. They are a further fascinating facet of this area that contribute visually to your enjoyment, and understanding of this wonderful and wild place.

Sof Omar Caves The fantastic limestone caves of Sof Omar make a day’s outing from Dinsho, Robe or Goba. The road leaves Robe town, crossing the farming areas to the east, before descending into the lowlands. Here the vegetation is very different being dry lowland with wooded grasslands. The caves lie at 1,300 m above sea level. This is in marked contrast to what you will experience in the Bale Mountains at up to 4,000 m. Very different animals occur along the way as well, most noticeably the Greater and Lesser Kudu - both relatives of the Mountain Nyala, and the tiny dik dik antelope. The caves themselves carry the whole flow of the


Web River that rises in the Bale Mountains, underground through wonderfully carved caverns for a distance of one and a half kilometers. There are over fifteen kilometers of associated passages, which require skill, time and special equipment for a full exploration. However, a friendly local guide will show you enough to take your breath away and make the trip worthwhile, for an hour or for as long as you care to spend. A cool dip in the clear River afterwards refreshes you for the return drive

Best time to visit The climate of the Bale Mountains, as is to be expected in a high altitude mountainous region, is characterized by a high rainfall and periods of damp cloudy weather, interspersed with periods of sparkling sunny weather with brilliant blue skies. The climatic year can be roughly divided into

three seasons -the dry, early wet and wet seasons. The dry season is usually from November to February. Very little rain is experienced and temperatures on the clear sunny days may rise to as high as nearly 30° centigrade. Nights are star-filled, clear and cold, usually with heavy ground frosts. Temperatures may fall between minus 6° and minus 15° centigrade in the main peak area of the Park. This is the best period to visit the National Park, especially for walking and horse trekking in the high mountain area. The vegetation can get very dry in the dry season, and fires must then be very carefully tended. The early wet season lasts from March to June, and about two-thirds as much rain falls in this period, as in the wet season from July to October. Throughout these eight months, days are generally cooler and nights warmer than in the dry season. Despite the wetter weather, the area can still be enjoyed with adequate warm and weatherproof clothing. Bright sunny periods may be experienced at any time. Snow has been recorded, but does not lie around for very long.

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South Expedition is budget tour operator

Designed by Visit 2 Ethiopia

Developing Ecological Tourism for us isn’t a trend but a move toward progress in the relations with Pastoral Communities, as we promote Community Based Tourism South Expedition will guide you all along through Exuberant Village’s, Indigenous Markets, Ceremonies, Cultural Events, Ecological Camp’s, National Park’s, Trekking, Bird watching, Boat Excursions & Ethnic Safaris. For tailor made itinerary & inquires please contact us for swift correspondence.

Grand Holidays Ethiopia Tours

For many years we have fulfilled the dreams and aspirations of many travelers from around the world. Our dedicated team of friendly professionals creates a unique experiential vacations for independent travelers, families and groups of any size throughout this magical land, Ethiopia. At Grand Holidays Ethiopia Tours our goal is to provide the most comfortable and hassle-free trip you will ever have whilst benefiting the local host community as much as possible. In recognition to our quality service, National Geographic Adventure Magazine has given Grand Holidays Ethiopia a 95/100 client satisfaction rating and a 89.5 in Quality of Service. The award energizes us to work even better and make sure that all our clients who chose

to come with us have a lot of fun memories to share when they get back home. As National Geographic Adventure editors commented, “For the second time in as many years, we’ve conducted an unprecedented survey of adventure travel companies, based on the idea that a traveler’s most important decision is not always where to go but who to go with.” We have the widest choices of well designed tour packages for groups and individuals throughout Ethiopia from cultural tours to the Historic Route of Ethiopia to tribal tour and wildlife safari in the Omo Valley/Ethiopian Great Rift Valley. From Trekking in the Simien Mountains to desert expedition in the Dallol Depression, Ertale Lava Lake, and so much more. ices:

erv ing s

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ruce de culturas en la antigüedad, donde diferentes grupos étnicos convergían, aún hoy más de 60 tribus viven al sur del Omo Valley. Haré a continuación un rápido recorrido por los que vi en mi viaje.

tura y cría de ganado, son conocidos por su afición a guerrear, especialmente con los karo, hamer y surma. Se hace cicatrices para embellecer su cuerpo, identidad tribal y destreza en la batalla. Usan pequeñas puntillas para real- zar sus ojos y mejillas. Las mujeres dibujan cicatrices de formas geométricas en su pecho.

Ari. Más de 100.000 según un censo de 1984, habitan en la frontera norte del Mago Park. Tienen cabezas de ganado, caballos, burros, mulas, ovejas, cabras y pollos. En las tierras altas cultivan trigo, tef, centeno, guisantes, judías, bananas y café. Son además unos grandes productores de miel.

Dassanetch. Son unos 36.000, divididos en ocho subgrupos, que viven a lo largo de las riberas del lago Turkana, tanto en la parte etiope como keniata. Combinan la ganadería y la agricultura, y comple- tan su dieta con algo de pesca en tiempos de crisis. La tierra, semiárida, es trabajada por las mujeres, cultivando sorgo, trigo, café, etc. Los hombres se dedican al desarrollo de sus grandes rebaños de ga- nado vacuno. Construyen sus viviendas con estructuras de ramas que recubren del abundante papiro existente en el delta, de cuero o con chapas de metal. Los jóvenes de ambos sexos siguen pasando por la ceremonia de la circuncisión a pesar

Banna. Son unos 35.000 y forman parte de la misma familia que los hamer, con quienes comparten lengua y pueden casarse libremente. Habitan la zona este del Mago Park. La guerra esta prohibida en esta tribu. Bumi. Son unos 2.500 y viven al norte de los mursi. Dedicados a la agricul-


de que cada día son más las mujeres que se oponen a la mutilación sexual de las niñas. Dorze. Son unos 4500 y ocupan una extensión de 30 km2 en los alrededores de Chencha. Su activi- dad principal son los shama, unas túnicas

A land beyond all your imaginations

de colores con dibujos geométricos, que se venden por todo el país. Las viviendas construidas con bambú, son una de las características que les distingue de los pueblos vecinos. Las habitan durante unos cuarenta años y transcurrido ese tiempo las abandonan pa- ra construir otra nueva. Hamer. Los hamer son una tribu agropastoril que ocupa las tierras del sudoeste del Mago National Park cercanas a la frontera con Kenia. Subsisten principalmente del cultivo del sorgo, mijo, verduras y algo de tabaco y algodón, así como rebaños de ovejas y cabras. Suelen pintar su cuerpo de muchos colores y vestir montones de abalorios. Su ceremonia más significativa es el «salto de los toros» que realizan los jóvenes al abandonar la

pubertad. Días antes de la ceremonia se distribuyen invitaciones en forma de hojas de hierba seca anudadas. La ceremonia dura tres días, pero el más importante es el último. Al atardecer treinta toros son alineados, el joven desnudo, corre hacia ellos y salta sobre la espalda del primero, entonces comienza a correr sobre los animales, al final de la línea se da la vuelta y realiza el camino en sentido contrario. Si el iniciado cae es considerado un símbolo de mala suerte. Karo. Son unos mil y viven en el banco este del Rio Omo. Solían tener muchísimo ganado, pero per- dieron gran parte de él debido a enfermedades, y entonces volvieron a la agricultura. Muy unidos a los hamer, comparten con ellos la lengua, además de

rebaños y comida. La voracidad de las abundantes termitas existentes en la región, les obligan a reconstruir sus viviendas varias veces al año. Decoran su cuerpo con tiza, a menudo imitando el moteado de los pavos reales, y realizan mascaras para la cara con tiza, hierro y diversos minerales. Las mujeres se hacen cicatrices en el pecho para estar más gua- pas y apetecibles para el hombre. El hombre hace este tipo de sacrificio cuando ha matado a un ene- mi go o un animal peligroso. La cicatriz se hace con un cuchillo u hoja de afeitar y después es frotada con cenizas para hacerla más llamativa. Como para los hamer decorar el pelo con arcilla gris y ocre, y plumas de avestruz es símbolo de hombría y bravura.

December 2009 | 29



v Mursi. Son unos cinco mil, principalmente pastores que viven entre la estepa Tama en temporada de lluvias y las colinas Mursi al noreste del Omo Park en temporada seca. Tienen algunos cultivos en las zonas próximas al río Omo donde la abundancia de mosca tse-tse hace imposible la supervivencia del ganado. También recolectan miel. Las mujeres llevan platos de arcilla en los labios. En su adolescencia, las mujeres solteras perforan su labio inferior y van expandiendo el agujero durante el periodo de un año aproximadamente. Después se inserta el disco de arcilla quemada que expande aun más el agujero, que a veces llega a ser tan grande que el labio cuelga por de bajo la barbilla. El tamaño del plato deter- mina la dote de la novia, un plato muy grande se llega a pagar con cincuenta cabezas de ganado. Algu- nas llegan a quitarse los dientes centrales para albergar platos más grandes. Anualmente, los jóvenes solteros Mursi suelen participar en violentos torneos, en los que provistos de largas varas, donga, ponen a prueba su fuerza, su valor y su destreza, que tendrán como recompensa la admiración de las jóvenes casaderas y el prestigio para la comunidad de la región del país Mursi de


donde provenga el vencedor. Surma. La nación surma son unos 40.000, viven del café, el maíz, la miel y la caza. Tienen fama de guerreros, seguramente por su continua búsqueda de zonas de caza y pastoreo; y todavía tienen algún que otro altercado con sus enemigos naturales los Bu- mi. Tienen dos coincidencias con los mursi: las mujeres visten platos en los labios y la lucha de bastones. En la lucha cada con- tendiente esta armado con un duro palo de madera de unos dos metros de largo y un kilo de peso. En la posición de ataque, el palo es cogido por la base con ambas manos, la izquierda sobre la derecha para dar mayor agilidad y fuerza. Cada jugador gol- pea a su oponente con el palo tantas veces como le sea posible, con la intención de derribarle y eliminarlo del juego. Es un juego para solteros, el ganador es llevado sobre una plataforma de palos, ante un grupo de mujeres que aguardan en el exterior del ruedo y que deben decidir entre ellas quien le pedirá al mozo en matrimonio. Participar en la lucha es considerado más importante que ganarla. Los hombres pintan sus cuerpos con una combinación de tiza y agua antes de la lucha.

A land beyond all your imaginations

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December 2009 | 31



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Tourism Marketing & Promotions (V2E TMP Advertising) “Your partner for your success…!” Together, we will go a little farther…!” “In an ever changing and developing market, such as tourism, it is paramount to be known, to be seen and to be heard! Product knowledge is a corner stone, when you launch marketing activities and preparing tour packages..!” V2E TMP & Advertising is a Communication, Marketing, Representation Consulting and Public Relations registered company specialized in the tourism industry. That operates in Ethiopia and in Europe in partnership with Ethiopian Culture and Information Center (ECIC). We see ourselves as a partner that helps to create added value, and as a company whose endeavors aim and focus at the success of its customers and their company and products. V2E TMP & Advertising speaks for itself! Cross-cultural awareness and know-how International and global experience Europe-wide network Highly qualified and professional

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V2E TMP & Advertising stands for a better tourism service standard. Our clients: • Tour operators • Hotels, hotel chains and Lodges/ Guest house • Regional tourism offices • Local tourism organizations for international and local tourism promotion; • Local attractions such as amusement parks, museum, temporary shows, events etc


A land beyond all your imaginations

Visit 2 Ethiopia Tourism Marketing & Promotions (V2E TMP & Advertising)

Our services to tourism: Representation in Europe; Strategic consulting; Sales and distribution; Marketing; Public relations Our products: Website Brochure Catalogues Posters Postcards

Flyers Banners Magazines And so on‌

Tel: (0911) 162653 - (0913) 627338 - (0912) 275110 - (0911) 542751


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ETHIOPIA sitors may change back any excess Birr into foreign currency at the airport before departure but you must, in addition to the currency declaration form , bring with you all receipt for exchange transaction.


Driving Drivers require valid international Driving license, which can be obtained by exchanging your local license at the transport and communication office on Haile Gebre Selassie Road in Addis Ababa. Visitors can recover the original license a day or so prior to departure. Those with their own vehicles will require a permit from the Ministry of Transport and communication. Driving is on the right side.

Ethiopia in Brief

Energy One of the few African countries never to loose independence, Ethiopia is as large as France and Spain combined and has one of the richest histories on the African continent.

Dewele, is on the Ethio - Djibouti border. Arrivals undergo full customs and immigration checks.

Addis Ababa

Metema and Humeera-crossing from Sudan Dewele and Galafi -crossing from Djbouti Togucahle, Teferi ber, kebri Beyahe & Dolo Odo -crossing from Somalia Moyale and Omorate –crossing from Kenya

The capital was settled in 1886 and christened by Queen Taytu, consort of Menelik II. The population according to official the 3rd census held in 2007 is 2,738,505 Towns

Entry Points by road

The second largest town is Dire Dawa, with a population 232,854 Gondar is the third – largest town with a population of 206,987

NB These are only entry points and no Visa service is available. Visa can be obtained from Ethiopian Embassies abroad.



The population of Ethiopia today is estimated to approximately 73,918,505– million approximately -- percent are under the age of 14 and almost half are under 34.

Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of twelve months of thirty days each and thirteen months of five days (six days in a leap year). The calendar is seven years and eight months behind the western Gregorian calendar.

Religion The major religions are Christianity and Islam Language Amharic is the official language, although English Italian French and Arabic are fairly spoken in areas outside of the large cities and towns, indigenous languages are likely to be spoken- of which there are eighty –three with some 200 dialects. Climate Despite its proximity to the equator, Ethiopia’s high altitude ensures a temperate, moderate, even chilly climate –certainly not tropical. There are two rainy seasons the irregular short rains from late January to early March, and the long rains from June until mid-September. Government Ethiopia is an independent republic operating under the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The president is the head of state, while the prime minister is head of government. Entry points by air Bole International Airport Addis Ababa; whereas Bahirdar, Makele and Dire Dawa will soon start to serve as entry points. Domestic airports: In addition there are 9 Airports for Domestic flights in Axum, Gondar, Lallibella, Assosa, Arbaminch, Jinka, Jimma and Gode. Entry Points by rail


Daylight Being relatively close to the equator, there is an almost constant twelve hours of daylight. In Addis Ababa, the sunrise and sunset are at 06.30and 18.45 respectively. Time Ethiopia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Time remains constant through out the year. The Ethiopia day is calculated in a manner similar to many equatorial countries, where days and nights are always the same length. Counting starts at western 6.00 a.m and 6.00pm. Western 7.00 a.m is therefore one o’clock, noon is six 6.00p.m is twelve o’clock midnight and so on.

Ethiopia uses 220 volts and 50Hz. It is best to bring your own round two-prong adaptor and transformer if necessary. Health requirements All visitors (including infants) are required to posses a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or been in transit through a choleras- infected area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia. Malaria is endemic in some parts of lowland areas. Visitors should begin taking a recommended chloroquine – base prophylactic two weeks after their departure. In addition, medication for chloroquine-resistent malaria is a wise precaution. Medical services: Medical facilities are improving and public and private medical centers are rapidly growing in number, though there are quite a number of public Hospitals and private medical institutions are recommended. Visa and Immigration requirements Visa application may be obtained at Ethiopian Diplomatic Mission overseas- nationals of 33 countries are now allowed to receive their tourist visas on arrival in Ethiopia at the regular charge , Including Argentina , Australia, , Belgium , Brazil Canada, Denmark, Finland , France , Germany, Greek, Ireland Israel Italy , Japan Republic Of Korea. Kuwait , Luxemburg , Mexico, Netherlands , Newzeland , Norway ,Poland Portugal ,Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain ,Sweden, Switzerland , Thailand citizens of United kingdom and united States. For China including passports issued in Hong Kong. National Parks

The local currency is Ethiopian Birr, made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 Birr. There are five different coins 1,5,10 25, and 50 cents.

Abajata – Shala lakes national park Oromia region Awash National park –Oromiya and Afar region Bale Mountain National Park, oromiya region Gambella National park, Gambell region Mago National park, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State(S/N/ N/P) Regional State Nechisar National park (S/N/N/P) Regional state Siemen Mountains National Park,Amhara region Yangudi Rasa National Park, Afar Region

Currency regulations

Wildlife Sanctuary

There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported into Ethiopia but it must be declared on arrival using currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form will be required by customs on departure. Vi-

Babile Elephant Sanctuary, Oromiya Region Jello- Muktar Mountain Nyala sanctuary, Oromiya Region Senkele Swayne’s hartabeest sanctuary, Oromiya region Yabello sanctuary, Oromiya region

Communication Out he Internet service dialup are available at every city in the internet cafes. Broadband network will be available soon. Currency

A land beyond all your imaginations

October 2010 | 37

DINKNESH ETHIOPIA TOUR BIRD WATCHING IN ETHIOPIA WITH DINKNESH Ethiopia has been dubbed the Chessboard of the Gods, Cradle of Humanity and Roof of Africa. These superlatives, however, are inadequate to describe this unique and mysterious country. Some 70 mil ion years ago these highlands fractured, initiating the splitting of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The resulting countryside is as spectacular as it is varied. One of Africa’s finest birding destinations, the healthy combination of impressive forests, towering mountains and moist and arid savannas, laden with endemics and supporting a rich assemblage of Palearctic migrants, intermingle to provide long species lists. Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most productive birding destinations. Numerous endemics, a rich assemblage of forest and savanna species and an influx of Palaearctic migrants all add up to a truly bird-fil ed tour (over 850 species have been recorded in this country). Fascinating cultures, both traditional and Christian, and friendly people ensure an enjoyable experience. Ethiopia is also one of Africa’s most rewarding photographic destinations. Ethiopia has the second highest count of endemics on the continent. Depending on whose taxonomy you follow there are at least 30 endemics. Sinclair & Ryan’s new treatment of Africa’s birds, however, suggest that the Ethiopian highlands region may hold up to 49 endemics, with another 100 species restricted to the North-east Arid Zone. Most of Ethiopia’s endemics wil be seen on our 14 day tour to the country, including the bold Rouget’s Rail, striking Spot-breasted Lapwing, monstrous Thick-bil ed Raven, and exquisite White-cheeked Turacos. The southern extension wil add the spectacular Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco and the most sought after of the endemics, the curious Stressman’s Bush Crow. However, it is not just the birds that are strange, Hamadryas and ‘bleeding-heart’ Gelada Baboons, graceful Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf are all prime targets on our trip.

Dinknesh Ethiopia Tour

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