Southern Ethiopia – The Cultural Journey

Lake Langano

After a few days in the city we were very happy to leave and head for a few quiet places around the Lakes in the South. Lake Langano was just what we needed on our first stop. Marthe and Joris were staying there too and they greeted us with big smiles as they too were happy to be in a place that offered peace and quiet. The water of the Lake is so brown, so it took me a while to get in, but it was essential to keep cool and looked a lot more inviting than the communal showers.

Lake Langano

Lake Langano

Lake Langano

Thieves at the Lake

Lake Langano

They start young

Lake Shala National Park

Our next stop was on the way and that included a sneaky lunch at a nice lodge in Awasa. Mike’s burger looked delicious and if you didn’t eat fast, Vervet Monkeys would help themselves to whatever was on your plate when you turned to look out at the view. Mike was able to enjoy his entire burger in peace. Once tummy’s were full we headed for Lake Shala, met up with our guide on the road in and he led us to a spot we could bush camp. This was a truly beautiful setting and once it got dark it was so quiet you could here the crackling of our campfire and calls of Hyena once we were tucked away in bed. In the morning our guide caught up with us and took us for a drive through the Park as well as to Lake Chitu. This was another picturesque scene that took your breath away, so we took the opportunity to sit for a while and looked on at the biggest flock of flamingoes I have ever seen in one go and the locals who were herding their cattle, goats, donkeys as well as those who were washing clothes and themselves in the hot springs below. On our way back to the main road we realized that the sand in this particular area was like powder, so the dust cloud Thumper produced at a roaring speed of 20km’s was unbelievable. The kids on the side of the road would wave while you drove passed and then all run and jump into your dust cloud and dance around– and that’s when I realized why the kids in these villages always looked like they were covered in ash. Besides the danger in them doing this, it was quite funny to see how much they enjoyed this pastime, as I’m sure that’s exactly what it is.

Cracked Earth

Cracked Earth

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Lake Chitu

Lake Chitu

Abraminch

You soon realise how beautiful Ethiopia is with each passing drive that takes you further and further into the most epic scenery and amazing landscapes….. Not to sound American, but “OMG It’s Amazing”. The drive to Abraminch was spectacular at every turn of the head, you can spot either a maribou stalk, lilac breasted rollers, bee-eaters and then we came across two baboons crossing the road. The difference about these guys, was that it looked like they had a thick winter coat on. True balls of fluff. Paradise Lodge was our chosen destination, and we camped in the grounds allocated for over-landers and tucked into a few sunset beers. The view these guys have over the valley below and out onto two lakes in the distance… can I say it again, YEA, it was AMAZING!!! It always reminds me of fields of broccoli.

We spent the evening having dinner with a Swiss overlanding couple, Johan and Irene and met a crowd of US Airforce guys that were based at the same lodge we were staying at. Atleast we knew we were in good hands. These young guys are based in Abraminch to try and help the local people run ATC (Air traffic control) as well as all airport basics, currently they still don’t having weighing bays for luggage, so it’s a slow change but they are all pretty positive about it. Good conversation flowed with many bottles of wine until the early hours and all the world’s problems were solved…. Until we awoke the next day to reality and not much had changed.

Chaos in Abra Minch

Chaos in Abra Minch

After a late breakfast we headed for Konso and took a local guide with us to the tribal villages. We got to taste some local beer made from sorghum and maize – seriously strong, I honestly think I would have passed out if I had to drink a whole one on my own. We also got to taste some Southern Tej (Honey wine) and compared to the Tej in the North, this one was good so we ordered a whole bottle and sat and drank away in a mess hall with our guide and many inquisitive bystanders who joined us. NOTE: They all love my new sporting Casio watch and Mike is surprised I’m still wearing it and haven’t given it away to one of the many cute snotty nosed kids.

Strength of Ethiopian Woman

Strength of Ethiopian Woman

Ethiopian long distance car chasers

Ethiopian long distance car chasers

Ethiopian long distance car chasers

Ethiopian long distance car chasers

My Gran would have used up all her tissues in this Konso village

My Gran would have used up all her tissues in this Konso village

 

Tasting local Tej, CHEERS!!

Tasting local Tej, CHEERS!!

Mike with a few hanger-ons

Mike with a few hanger-ons

tasting local Tej, CHEERS!!

Tasting local Tej, CHEERS!!

Jinka

Now this is the place to see the Mursi tribes who are very well known for wearing lip plates. A real sight, especially when they haven’t had the time to put one in for the “Faranji”. Their bottom lips are cut just below the lip all the way and they start stretching the bottom lip with small plates and eventually move up the scale until a plate 15cm in diameter can fit comfortably. They have been rather exploited by the tourists as all they want, and rightfully so, is 5 birr per photo, per person and they count the clicks of your camera so you can’t get sneaky ones in at all. To take a picture of a kid will cost you 3 birr, AND they all want their photo taken so you land up running back to the car and driving away as soon as you can free. It’s a strange experience but worth every penny as we have probably seen the last bit of the little authenticity that exists. Have a look at photoblog for more pics, to come over the next few days!!!

Mursi Village where a lip plate is so 2012

Mursi Village where a lip plate is so 2012

Aftermoo (guide) & The Gang

Aftermoo (guide) & The Gang

I couldn’t resist she is SO gorgeous

I couldn’t resist she is SO gorgeous

On our way to Turmi, the Dutch caught up with us and told us to join them on a field trip. They had found a guide that was willing to take us to one of the remote villages to watch a ceremony they perform the day after a wedding (We missed the jumping of the bulls unfortunately) and this involved parking our cars after a little drive and waking 4 km’s into the bush. Well up for that! After our walk, we arrived just as the men were all jogging around the village while warming up their voices. The ladies were all sitting under a shaded area together singing along to the beat of a drum. The show began and all the men gathered in a semi-circle while one, two or three of them would jump into the centre and then clapping would start and they would all jump and stomp and return back to the circle. The ladies would then start dancing with the men and run and kick their shins while they jumped up and down to test the strength of their legs and the men would then respond by jumping toward them and ending with a show-stopping pelvic thrust and the woman would run away….. Not much has changed now has it!

We were then told that the goat ceremony would start soon so we gathered and watched about five goats being slaughtered. Unfortunately one unlucky guy had his throat cut and while he was being suffocated some of the men helped themselves to some warm blood that apparently imparts the strength of the goat into them while his heart is still beating. This was a little queezy to watch so we focused our attention on the guys who killed the goats quickly and then skinned the body within 15 minutes, they were well-practiced indeed. It was then time to leave and let them get on with their celebration in peace without having us snap away at every opportunity. Have a look at photoblog & videoblog for more over the next few days!!!

Dancing Cermony

Dancing Cermony

Women joining in

Women joining in

Heat of the dance

Heat of the dance

Kidding around

Kidding around

We spent a great night under huge mango trees with a campfire and to top it off a delicious beef goulash.

We awoke to the sound of crashing mangoes, massive hornbills and monkeys, but the day was full of excitement as we were headed to Omorate to get our exit stamps and hit Turkana.

This part of the adventure will have it’s very own blog as it is the kind of journey only the “Camel Adventure” would take on during the rainy season and we were headed there a little way behind the Dutch so if we got stuck and had no trees in sight to use our winch our options were to dig, dig and dig or wait for the next car to come by. Not many sane people do this route as it is so remote you can wait 5 days if you are lucky to see another car.

TBC…

Ciao

3 Responses to “Southern Ethiopia – The Cultural Journey”

  1. gerro says:

    What an interesting story you have written Bianca makes us very jealous.

  2. Kim says:

    This was my favourite so far! Wow wow! Those kids are so so cute! I love the way you write bab! Love you guys! Xxx

  3. Irene says:

    Absolutely incredible. wow. The pictures. the stories. omg. hats off to the both of you! cant believe how time is passing by so quickly but you sure as hell maximising every second! i love that!

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