My trip to Ethiopia had loads of ups and downs. There were times where I had horrible experiences but now that I look back, it is what makes the trip memorable! Ethiopia surprised me in many ways. It is a lot greener than I thought!
Here are the highlights of my trip!
1. Without a doubt, feeding wild hyenas in the middle of a barren, deserted and pitch black area without anyone around comes on top of my list!
Harar in Ethiopia is the only place in the world where you could feed wild hyenas by giving raw meat on a twig between your lips! It is 1000% at your own risk.
The sight of their shining sharp eyes from afar in the dark was terrifying as it is!
Now picture those starry eyes look straight into your soul, with only a distance of a short twig between your precious face and the beast’s strong jaw that could finish you up clean without any traces! And it’s not only the guy in front of me that I had to worry, there were at least 5 other ones walking around me waiting for their turn to be fed.
I kept cringing the whole time!
When the beast finally approached to take his bite, I shut my eyes immediately to not show fear. I mean, I’ve heard a lot of stories that animals can sense fear and take it to their advantage! That’s what kept running through my head. I don’t know how true that theory is.
I thought that it was over and I could finally leave, but then the hyena man held the raw meat right above me then this heavy beast weighing at least 50kg jumped on my back which the hyena man like to call it “a massage”.
He asked me if I wanted to feed the others with my mouth again but I did not have the courage, there were too many of them around me! So I decided to just give them the basket and it wasn’t any less terrifying! So many thoughts went through my head within split seconds! What if it’s not enough? What if the other beasts don’t get their share? What if they want more? What if more of them appear out of nowhere and surround me expecting for more food?!
Like I wasn’t terrified enough, the hyena man suddenly got up and left me alone, surrounded by wild hungry hyenas.
These scavengers are always hungry, always on the lookout for fresh raw meat to indulge and stuff their belly.
Would you take your chances?! It is 1000% at your own risk, yet it is 10000% worth the trip!
If you’re interested to do it or at least witness someone else do it, fly to Dire Dawa then take a tuktuk to the bus station. From there, hop on the minibus to Harar which takes about 2 hours. Bear in mind that you are in Africa, so a 12 seats minivan would turn into 24 seats. Be ready to be squished among kids, nursing mothers, babies and bags of gaat leaves.
2. Walking around the walled city of Harar and wander around the Christian & Muslim Market.
It was dark, rain was pouring hard and the electricity kept going off. It didn’t stop me from exploring the busy and crowded market.
The walled city is a maze with more than 300 alleyways. I recommend getting there early during day time and get lost within the great and colorful maze.
To witness such diverse religion, culture, nationality, origin and what not, yet they won the title of the most peaceful and tolerant city in the world by UNESCO. Did you know that Harar is the 4th holiest city of Islam?
Co-existence is indeed a beauty which is yet to be understood by many of us. Harar is a city of peace, love and harmony.
3. A visit to the Rasta town; Shashamane. It was definitely an experience to learn about Rastafari and interacting with them. They are very hospitable and kind people who love to share about their belief.
In a world that I’m in, once given a piece of cloth, I presume it’s to cover the head. I was completely wrong, as I was supposed to cover my pants! The Rastas decided to tell me that as I was leaving.
It is about 4 hours drive from Addis Ababa. I highly recommend leaving as early as possible so you can get back to Addis Ababa before it gets dark since there won’t be any street lights and of course the non stop heavy rain just makes it so dangerous to be driving in the dark.
4. Celebrated the New Year 2009 in 2016! I had not known that Ethiopia have their own calendar! They’re 7 years behind the Gregorian calendar. Do you wish to go back in time and be young!? Fly away to Ethiopia!
5. The last highlight was an unexpected one! I met so many friends from Jeddah in Ethiopia and on top of that I met my very old friend from 3rd grade to 9th grade! It was then that I realized that I have a huge community of African friends! PS: It took 4 hours and 2 hairdressers to do my long braids!
Perks of living in Saudi is you get exposed to many different cultures, nationalities and backgrounds.
So, would I recommend a trip to Ethiopia?! YES. How long should one stay there? I would say a minimum of 2 weeks because the road and transportation system is really poor so it takes a very long time to go from one city to another and explore the marvelous beauty.
Is it safe for solo female travelers? Yes, I did not encounter any danger. I felt safe even during late nights.
There were a lot of gems that I didn’t get to explore due to the great distance and my time limit, to name a few; Lalibela, Danakil Depression, and Erta Ale.
PS: I had to use my old iphone5 because my phone broke just before the trip. Sorry for the bad quality guys!
If you need any help in Harar, I recommend these two; Ghirmay and Rasta.
Contact Number: +251943020549