Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

Hippo in Lake Chamo

Lake Chamo

South of Addis Ababa, running down from Ethiopia’s central plateau is the Rift Valley

Near the city of Arba Minch is Lake Chamo the last of 8 lakes in the Rift Valley running south from Addis Ababa.

From points in Abar Minch you can look over Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya

Abar Minch is a great stepping off point to explore the tribal south of Ethiopia and the Bale mountains.

But a boat ride on Lake Chamo is a must before heading south.

To see the Nile Crocodile nursery

To see the African Pelicans. These birds migrate up into the Danube Delta in Romania for the European summer (see Danube Delta blog under Romania in the menu).

See the fishermen casting for Nile Perch just around the corner from the crocodile nursery

Till the sun starts to set on the beautiful lake.

Lake Awasa

Awassa and its lake are approximately 290 km south of Addis Ababa and a well serviced tourist destination.

At a bit over 1,700 meters above sea level Awasa retains the mild temperatures that are a feature of Ethiopia’s Central Plateau.

The colourful fishing boats and fish market is an attraction of Lake Awasa

As is the wild life in particular the Marabou Stalk, particularly in and around the fish market (see above)

But also:

Sea Eagles

King Fishers large and small,

Jacana and

Colobus monkeys on the lake shoreline.

The area around Awasa is very productive

With abundant fresh fruits

And lots of coffee being grown dried and sorted in the region.

Because Ethiopia is the home of coffee.

The Awasa Valley is also where Lucy the skeletal remains of a 3.2 million year old hominin were found.

The reconstructed skeleton of Lucy is on display in the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is an amazing country. One of a handful of countries never to be colonised by a European power. (Though there has been significant European presence and influence).

Unfortunately political tensions have again arisen which hopefully be resolved.

I leave my lockdown reflections of Ethiopia now.

Next reflections in Africa will be in Kenya and the amazing wildlife there.

For those wanting to find out more about Ethiopia I recommend the above book amazing research text and images.

Lockdown Reflections 3 – Ethiopia’s Tribal South

Lockdown Reflections 3 – Ethiopia’s Tribal South

The Omo River valley is the centre of the tribal area of Ethiopia

The south east of Ethiopia near where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan meet is home to a group of mainly nomadic tribes

It is largely a very traditional part of Ethiopia with numerous tribes, mainly nomadic, living in the highlands and valleys surrounding the Omo River

If visiting the part of the Ethiopia the South Omo Research Centre Museum, Which is a German/Ethiopian collaboration provides awonderful introduction to the tribes and their cultures in the Region

Outside the museum

Not far from Jinka along one of the dirt roads that connect villages

Roads which the walking paths through the landscape

Is the small market village of K’ey Afer which on market day is abuzz with colour and activity

Selling spices and earthenware

And cattle and sheep

K’ey Afer is n the Hamar tribal area

Each tribe is distinctive in clothing hairstyle and custom. Some tribes are less welcoming to tourists that others.

Like all traditional cultures though there is a challenge to of maintaining custom in the face of western society encroachment

Up in the mountains

Is the land of the Mursi, a warrior tribe and visiting without prior approval is not advised

The Omo River winds its south toward Lake Turkana which is the largest permanent desert lake and largest alkaline lake in the world.

This southern part of Ethiopia is very hot, dry and dusty a significant contrast to the cool moistness of the central plateau.

This is Dassanetch country and these nomadic herders land has traditionally spanned the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan

The simple housing reflective of the nomadic existence of the Dassanetch

There are over a dozen tribes in the South Omo Zone

Others include the Borani, Banna Surmu and others

All culturally and physical distinctive in their own ways.

It is nearly 13 years since visiting this part of Ethiopia and even then the tribal life here was under threat. – Like traditional life in all continents.

Since this time the Omo River has been dammed and resettlement from the more populous parts of Ethiopia into this Zone has accelerated.

All this presents a survival challenge for these traditional tribes , their culture and way of life

Lockdown Reflections 2 – The Historic North of Ethiopia

Lockdown Reflections 2 – The Historic North of Ethiopia

Traditional Amhara music on the shores of Lake Tana, Bahir Dar

The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa sits pretty much in the centre of Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa (New Flower in English) was created as the capital by King Menelik II, the creator of modern Ethiopia, in 1886

North of Addis Ababa to the Eritrean border and to the Danakil Depression is termed the Historical North

It is the area which has most interaction with European culture and hence a region that is significantly Christian with cities that formed as their capitals.

It is also where we find Aksum the centre of the Kingdom of Aksum with a history reaching back to 4 BC

Ethiopian history extends from the Iron Age to Rastafarianism and beyond to much for this blog but worth a exploration.

Aksum

The Stelae of Axum are monuments to past Kings of Aksum the largest and most impressive from the 3rd and 4th century AD.

Some of the simpler Stelae are older

A short drive from Aksum is Yeha

The Lion of Yeha providing an geological marker

The remains of the Temple of Yeha is Ethiopia’s oldest standing structure. Estimated to be built in 700 BC

In the nearby monastery there are relics from Pagan times reflecting times when The Ibex and the sun and moon were sacred

And beautifully illustrated Christian manuscripts

Lalibella

Lalibella is a medieval city famous for its rock hewn churches built around the 12th century by the then King Lalibella.

There are 11 rock hewn churches in Lalibella

The most famous of which is the Church of St George (below)

The churches are also noted for their rock star clergy

Aksum and Lallibella are considered the most holy sites in Ethiopia and both are UNESCO world heritage listed and as such are the highlights of the Historic North of Ethiopia

Gondar is the stepping off city to explore the Simien Mountains and has its own treasures – in churches

and in the Castle

Bahar Dar is rounds out the main stops in the Historic North

With the beautiful Lake Tana which is the source of the Blue Nile

These are reflections of years past travelling in my mind during the Covid -19 lockdown in Melbourne

Reflective travelling in my mind!

Travel Vaccines and reflections of Africa – The Simien and Bale Mountains, Ethiopia

Travel Vaccines and reflections of Africa – The Simien and Bale Mountains, Ethiopia

 

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If you have travelled to Africa it is most likely you would have been required to have a yellow fever vaccination – still required in many countries

I got my Yellow Card, proof of vaccination 20 years ago on my first trip to the African Continent.

Being in the Melbourne, Australia COVID 19 lockdown it is a good chance to reflect on the need for vaccination and travel and the relationship between the two.

The Simien Mountains

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The Simien Mountains are a World Heritage alpine area in the North of Ethiopia

Its also called the water tower of East Africa providing the source for the Blue Nile

The Blue Nile provides 80% of the water that reaches Egypt, flowing through Sudan where it meets with the White Nile to form the Nile River

 

With peaks up to 4,550 metres within the vast sprawling alpine range

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A range of deep gorges, rugged peaks and waterfalls plummeting thousands of metres

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The Simiens have unique flora and fauna

Such as the Giant Lobelia

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The endemic Gelada (or bleeding heart baboon) and Olive baboons

And if you look closely a Walia Ibex

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It was a three night trek through the Simiens

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Camping in the Alps

Amazing sunsets and the high plateau

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And watching the moon rise over the cliff tops from the gorges

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The Bale Mountains

The Simien Mountains are in the North East of Ethiopia and the Bale Mountains in the South East

Almost bookends at each end of the Ethiopian Central Highlands

The Simiens in the Amhara Region and the Bale in the Oromia Region

The Bale Mountains are drier less dramatic that the northern bookend

These mountains are the catchment for the Jubba River system

Which flows across Ethiopia and Somalia to the Indian Ocean

The Bale Mountains are more easily accessed than the Simiens

Far better for catching sightings of the Ethiopian Wolf

And the amazing bird life

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Also In the Bale Provence toward the Somalian Border is are the Sof Omar Caves

Its well over a decade since I travelled in these mountains with my family.

And yes a vaccine for Yellow Fever was compulsory

Maybe compulsory vaccinations will be more widespread for travellers in the future given COVID-19

Colour and Light

Colour and Light

 

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Colour

and light

stands alone

often in the wilderness

the boundless plains

the culture of different peoples

The colour

of a land

of the wildlife

the people

are the constant

like a beacon

colour and light

like life itself

cannot be diminished

 

This poem was inspired by travels in Kenya and Ethiopia

The colour and light of the animals

The People

The Land

 

 

Death of a Passport

Death of a Passport

It was only 10 years old

Im sure looking

at the picture

I hadnt changed

Still the same person I was

10 years ago

Not the first passport

I have had to put down

But the nature of the passport

like life

is changing

the passport of the future will be more electronic

less stamps

no ornate visas pasted in

but with a wave of scissors it was dead

barcode cut off

chip card snipped

Dead

no longer able to see me safely across borders

Many borders there have been

So let me reveal some of the adventures in those old ornate visas and stamps

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Singapore, and India

Singapore the bustling humid city state.

Centre of trade between the hemispheres for centuries

The city  a mix of colonial and bustling modern edifaces

India the ancient history

Sights and smells that are almost overwhelming

Colour vibrancy and activity everywhere.

Ethiopia, Thailand and New Caledonia

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Ethiopia the cradle of civilisation

An ancient culture

Home of coffee

Dramatic landscape from high mountains to desert planes,

Many tribes, and diverse wildlife.

 

Thailand- the kingdom in Asia

long held traditions

 

New Caledonia the French called it the Riviera of the South Pacific

A place of beauty

But with the tense undercurrent of colonisation bubbling beneath the surface

Vietnam baring the scars of the American war

An ancient culture its capital a city over 1000 years old

Bustling streets markets and waterways

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The last stamps on the page are Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam.  The start of my recent European adventures but they have been documented in my recent posts.

Ten years of travel outside Australia, my home country recorded on the pages.

Vale passport!!!!