Far off the typical tourist trail in the barren and sun-drenched landscapes of Eastern Ethiopia, is a place like no-other, the spellbinding stone-walled city of Harar. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, historical Harar is a maze of old cobbled streets and alleyways, vibrant, chaotic markets, interesting architecture and has a distinctive, delicious food scene, all easy to explore on foot.
Once an independent city-state, Harar served as an important trading centre and crossroads between Africa, India and the Middle East, and is a melting pot of different cultures and influences (Somali, Oromo, Arab, Turk). Harar is the heart of the Muslim community in Ethiopia and said to be the ‘forth holiest city in Islam’ after; Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. You can find a total of 82 colourful mosques which date from the 10th century crammed into the city’s tiny 1 sq/m size. If that wasn’t enough, each night beside the ancient city gates of Harar, there is a chance to observe a nightly ritual - the feeding of spotted hyenas, a cultural tradition practiced to deter the wild animals from attacking local livestock. As such, Harar is a totally unique destination within Ethiopia and an exciting part of your tour.
Awash National Park
Located around 230km East of Addis Ababa, Awash National Park makes a pleasant nature-based addition to your itinerary. The park covers 756 sq/km of acacia grasslands and volcanic landscapes located along the Awash river. A must for birders! The park spans from the north-eastern corner of Oromia to the southern tip of the Afar region. Awash, one of Ethiopia’s most popular parks is worth a visit for animal viewing and immersion in nature. On a game drive through the park, wildlife highlights include; orynx, gazelle, dik-dik, kudus, warthogs, velvet monkeys, baboons and over 453 species of native birds including ostriches. During a drive, you’ll pass by Awash Falls, a mighty waterfall plunging into a beautiful gorge. Filwoha hot springs in the far north of the park, and finally, the Fantale Crater, a dormant volcano in the west of the park which you can climb and see incredible panoramic views at the top.