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Ethiopia: Yirgalem

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Yirgalem | Ethiopia | Africa

[Visited: August 2010]

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.

Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Trees covered in early morning fog near Yirgalem

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.

Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Vulture flying away from a tukul near Yirgalem

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.

Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Ethoipian kids in one of the many huts around Yirgalem
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Smiling from a scarf
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Local woman in the process of preparing false banana
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Boys carrying wood on a muddy path in the forest
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Ethiopian man washing his hands
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Two Abyssinian black-and-white colobus monkeys in a tree
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Small river in the vicinity of Yirgalem
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Huts like these are common all around Yirgalem
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): The densely green landscape around Yirgalem
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Smoke coming out of a hut
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Big tree in the landscape around Yirgalem
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Spider looking like a bat in a web
Picture of Yirgalem (Ethiopia): Remarkable silvery-cheeked hornbill in a tree

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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