After a long drive from Addis Ababa, on a surprisingly good road, we arrived in Yirgalem in time to get rid of our stuff, and go for a walk. Even in the lodge we were staying, we saw exotic birds with enormous white bills and the funny Abyssinian black-and-white colobus monkeys. When we were given canes, I expected a difficult hike on muddy paths, which could be expected in the rainy season. We soon reached a look-out point where we got a better idea of the area. Undulating hills completely covered by a thick vegetation of forest and grass gave the landscape a fresh, intensely green look.
Walking down one of the many paths criss-crossing the landscape, often meeting locals, we reached a small settlement. People here bury their ancestors in their own compound, and are, in general, largely self-sufficient. We were shown how to make a kind of cheese from the false banana tree, providing food for many Ethiopians. The plant is cut, the many saps are pressed from it, and left underground for either a week or a month, and left for fermentation. Tasting the result, in a pancake with spinach, was actually pretty delicious. From here, we walked and ran down to a small river, followed by a crowd of screaming boys.
The ladies were helped to the other side by a good-humoured, fragile but strong Ethiopian, while the men just jumped to the other side. From here, we walked up, passing several more settlements, hearing lots of birds, and meeting many sweet kids, most of whom even refrained from asking for money or pens. So it was, that after crossing the same brook again over a thick trunk, we walked up again to the cave complex where the daughter of Haile Selassie was hiding for five months during the Italian campaign in Ethiopia. It certainly looked like a perfect place for hiding, hardly visible for those who would not know. Back at the lodge, we later saw hyenas come close, and, with a vulture on top of the kitchen roof, realized again how rich this area is in wildlife.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Yirgalem (Ethiopia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Yirgalem.
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