TRAVELS

ICELAND- THE ISLAND OF SEVERE ROMANTIC

map_of_icelandIceland,  or ice and fire island, as it is written in promotion publications is an island in the north of Atlantic ocean and situates only 300 km. from Greenland. The island is 1,5 times bigger than Lithuania. The population is not huge :only 300 thousands citizens and 200 thousands of them are living in the capital called Reykjavik , which is the most northern capital in Europe. They have got no chimneys as they are using only geothermal energy for heating.  Also,  they don't use any natural minerals for electricity since of 99%  it is generated in geothermal power stations.  Hot water has a pungent sulfur scent, while cold ,is one of the cleanest water in the whole world. The country's economy are depending on fish prices,  therefore, the goverment strictly opposes to the accession the European Union for fear of losing fishing control, because  about  40% of country's total exports consist of fish and its products.

 

 

It is believed that the first settlers of Iceland were Irish monks arrived in the island about 800 AD.  Norwegian  Vikings moved to the island about IX-X century. Viking Floki Vilgerdarson gave the current name for the island- Iceland. Up to the 1814 yr. Iceland was a colony of Norway, later belonged to Denmark , in 1944 has been given independence.

_DSC4335It is interesting, that the island is the only place in the world ,which has a visible junction of two tectonic plates. This place is named Almagjau fracture (in local language "a simple man's brake"). In this place- Tingvelirr national park you can visit America and Europe only in a few minutes. There is no better and clearer place in the world shoving how lithospheric plates are moving away from each other. According to researches -Iceland will be split into two parts after many, many years. Every year, the crack increases by 2,54 cm. Now it is 4 meters wide and 40 meters deep. Many million years ago, when a crack opened and magma puffed out, Iceland has been formed as a volcanic island. Near Almagjau fracture, in national Tingvelirr park on 930 AD the oldest parliament in the whole world called Alting was set up. In 1991 with initiative of Iceland Foreign Minister John Baldwin Hanniballon Iceland was the first one who recognized Lithuanian independence after a long lasting dark Russian occupation.That is why Iceland and Icelandic people are very honored in my country.

Why travelling to Iceland was mesmerizing to me ? In my very youth I have read a book written by novelist Jules Verne called "A journey to the centre of the Earth".This story involves German professor Otto Lindenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going towards the center of the Earth. He, his nephew Axel and their guide Hans descended into the Iceland volcano Snaefellsjokull,  encountering many adventures before eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy, at the Stromboli volcano. The idea to visit the land of magnificent volcanos, lava fields and various high and width waterfalls obsessed me and when I got a chance I went there as soon as I could. IMG_2680

It was known that traveling there would not have any comfort : instead of the warm Mediterranean beaches we were expecting a strong winds, rain and the average temperature of +10- 12  degrees even it was the end of July. Fortunately, we escaped the rain.  We had to change  our usual summer shoes into mountain boots and put wind and waterproofed jackets. If you want to see the harsh face of nature, to feel the strength of the wind,  to hear the unceasing songs of the waterfalls and the magnificent beauty of craters at the top of volcano  you must be ready for that.

_DSC4026Beauty of waterfalls, volcanos, glaciers,  lava fields created such a romance which you could not find anywhere else. In some places,  the  landscape looked more like a moon than the surface the  earth.

 

_DSC2825American astronauts were trained in those lava fields as they needed their eyes inure to the brown –black color of lava and would feel the harsh force of nature when they are left alone with it. Various forms and deeps caves are washed out of lava same as geysers and fumarole geothermal fields – hard to imagine that all has been created by the two elemental forces- water and fire. Travelling across the island you feel an unhurried charm of life and fell in love  with this harsh,  but very hospitable land.

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_DSC3334Our journey (by rented SUV ) started in the capital -Reykjavik ("Smokey Bay"in native language) The name was given by sailor called Ingofur Arnarson,  who found this place in IX century. More than half of the Iceland's inhabitants are living in Reykjavik .In the center of city they have an impressive Hallgrim Church, which basalt rocks are recalling the flowing lava._DSC2380 You can see the church from more than 20km. distance,  when  going up on a lift to the church tower you can see a wonderful panoramic view of Reykjavik.

_DSC2432 Near the church –the sculpture of Viking Leifur Eiriccson is built. He was the first known European who discovered a continental North America before Christofer Columbus. The  sculpture was donated to Iceland by America on 1000 th. anniversary of Altingo. There are a lot of cozy coffee shops in the city so as pedestrian streets. Since Icelanders strongly believe in elves and trolls you can see lots of sculptures beside the stores. Icelandic people believe that they are bringing good luck for sellers._DSC3118

Unfortunately,  we had to leave this beautiful city as we had to prepare and hike to the highest cascade of Glymur Falls. To reach it we had to climb up the steep slope while the very strong crosswind was. But the beauty that opened on the top was worth an effort we have put._DSC2445

Catching waterfall cascades were fallen into a narrow mountain gorge,  around it–a field of huge lava stones._DSC2466

They looked like surreal sculptures which being started creating by man but not finished and left as it is. By the way, going down the slope was much more difficult than climbing up, the wind was so strong,  the trail was stony and narrow. One careless step would be enough to fall and go down the gorge._DSC2731

Later on, we headed to Snaefellsness peninsula,  famous for its extraordinary landscape :  variety   of volcanoes, craters, lava fields, black lava beaches and impressive crater of Holahor volcano._DSC3251

_DSC2585Most of Icelandic craters , waterfalls, volcanoes having their own legends

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_DSC3135 Godafoss waterfall– was named after God when Icelanders threw all the idols , which they were worshiping, after converting to Christianity. The Swartifoss–dark waterfall. Gulfoss waterfall which in 1907 was saved by a local girl called Sigridur from planning to build a power station.

_DSC4236 There is a monument built for persistent girl just next to the waterfall.

_DSC4216Detifoss waterfall is the most powerful in Europe. Barnafoss (children waterfall)–in accordance with the legend of the Christmas morning. Parents went to the church and children walked behind them. They were trying to shorten the way and go through the stone arch that spanned the ridges of waterfall, but unfortunately ,sank into the water and drowned. After that, their mother cursed the arch and said that everyone that will pass through the arch, die. But after a short time the earthquake broke the arch.

The Swartifoss fall falling from basaltic columns is called troll's fingers.  Seljadenfoss fall which is passable between  cliffs  and water–has name of  "Traders Waterfall "._DSC3877

Iceland is  volcanic island. It contains many volcanos : Hekla, Katla, Efjafadjokulis, Askja, Hvannadalshnukur (the highest peak of country, higest point  2,110 meters)_DSC4048.The most famous is the Efjafadjokudli volcano, which erupted in 2010  when large volumes of dissolved glacier ice flooded up to the ocean, 800 people were evacuated, the erupted volcano spread the massive cloud of volcano ashes,  hence caused the closing of the airspace in the most part of Europe. A documentary film about volcano eruption and its consequences was created and shown by the farmer in the farmstead, located  at the foot of the volcano. _DSC3852

The whole farmstead was covered with thick layer of ashes, but nowadays people are well-kept living there, as well as to live up to the crash. Hekla volcano is called "The gates to the hell"._DSC2475

Because of the centures of oppression and deprivation, Icelanders fostering their language, managed to maintain their national identity and customs.  Icelandic language almost have not changed since Viking times and their myths and tales have passed from mouth to mouth, they started to write much later. It's incredible, that Iceland has the Nobel Prize winner Hallidor Laxness, a great storyteller, excellent painter of Icelandic scenery and settings.

_DSC3936We continued our journey through lava fields, pseudo-craters towards Myvatno (mosquitos) lake._DSC4339 Lake formed about 2300 years ago during the eruption of lava. This is a place of frequent earthquakes. It is real kingdom of birds and also the only place where we found mosquitos.

_DSC3294 We saw another unusual natural phenomenon at the surroundings of lake Myvatna–vapor rasing from the earth –fumaroles and the "dark cities" that has been created by fuzed maze of the hardened lava. It was so pleased to float into the Myvatna geothermal lagoon pool after this long journey. We climbed to the top of waterfalls and volcanic craters and everything was so _DSC3168beautiful that we did not feel the cold wind, which was ripping our clothes or icy needles stabbing our faces. More than 50 hot springs are sprayed in the geothermal valley of southwestern. They are bubbling a dirt from the small holes._DSC4126

_DSC4150There are two powerful geysers –Geysir and Strokur (Mixer). Even the generic word "geyser" comes from a hot-spitting geyser which means "constantly rushing". The stream erupts every 7-8 minutes, rises 20 meters up or even higher. There is the largest glacier in Europe called Vatnajokull with a thickness of up to 1 km. Glacier floats into the ocean and it is a great attraction to sail between big icebergs like in Artic._DSC3715_DSC3714

It is impossible to fit entire unique beauty of nature in a short story. It is necessary to see, to feel the wind power on a volcano crater, see the boundless lava fields,  and image herself being in Arctic when sailing amongst icebergs. Is nice to see the whales playing in the ocean, to smell the sulfur coming from the hot springs , bathe in the famous open– air  "Blue Lagoon".  Great nostalgia occurs when you are  listening  the  endless waterfall music, maybe telling mysterious stories of elves and trolls or of  a  brave Vikings who  found  this island centuries ago…. _DSC3430

_DSC2625Of course,  it was necessary to taste fried whale meat, their delicacies –fried sheep's head and rotted shark. Icelanders are hard working people. Summers here are very short, most of time is just continues polar darkness. The tourist period is very short as well. There is only a few hotels so the students dormitories are transformed into hotels or guest houses at summer time.

_DSC3863_DSC3335There are lots of campsites near the geothermal springs , so the tourists,  living in the tents can rejoice bathing in them after the long traveling day. In summer the country is "occupied" by tourists: cyclists, pedestrians and powerful SUV's. _DSC3995

_DSC3066The vegetation is very poor, even in the botanical garden,  there are no exotic flowers ,only ones that doesn't require a lot of sun and warmness can blossom here. 

Icelanders also have a very interesting forming of surnames: a child gets father's  name with suffix "son" or "dottir"(daughter). They also have one of the longest living age in the world. Icelanders say it's  because of eating a lot of meat and drinking coffee.

What we usually expect from traveling?  For me–journeys fulfill my dreams and lift my life into the  higher level. I love meeting a new people when traveling, listen new languages, became familiar with traditional meals,customs, smells and sounds which are common to this country. When travelling –don't scatter in the past, expect  anything  in  uncertain future, enjoy the present moment. You  experience life in a completely different, unusual rhytm and enjoy knowing that your long awaited dream finally came true.  And don't be afraid to dream big !.

For those who want to know  more about  the Icelanders, their mode of life I would recommend to read the book written by Halligmur Helgason "The Thousand Degree Woman"

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Leonarda Sarakauskiene :info@sarakauskiene.lt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY INCREDIBLE HOLIDAY IN ETHIOPIA

 

529097_492968597423448_1665472634_nWhat kind of holidays are the  most amazing?  Which place in the world you have ever visited is the most inspiring ? For me- the places which were rarely seen by the tourists eyes. The places which I can get known about  reading an articles with experiences from other single travellers . Usually,  when I see the pictures of extra ordinary places, I decide that I have to see it myself and after, I try to do as much research as I possibly could and find the way, how to make my dream come true. That is how, after reading impressive and interesting articles of N. Hulo, Ryan Salm, and seeing unreal pictures on the website about hotest inhabited unique place in the world, I made my decision to visit Ethiopia. An articles and pictures were about the Danakil Depression with the Dalol crater located in just there.20120101_175029 Pictures really inspired me and not left me alone. For a while, nobody from Lithuania was organizing any tours to that place of Ethiopia because of non stable politican situation (as they are having some terror incidences with Eritrea which is located beside The Danakil ),safety reasons and lack of interest from the other tourists. I have found a local travelling agency which was organising the tours to this wild, undisturbed by civilization place. Really to say, I was afraid of being fooled, did not want to  be  left without nothing, so kept searching on the internet ,looking for reviews from other travellers and tryed to find the very best and reliable travelling agency. I took a lot of risks as I decided to travel alone. But on the other hand,  mostly I'm travelling alone. As I am sole traveller, my major concern was safety, given "do not travel alone "status given by my reliatives due to killings, robbery and something else. Since I wanted to visit not only a Danakil Depression, but also a places of the Christian heritages- like  marvellous  Rock Hewn churches of Lalibela ,stelaes of Axum which  are knowing as a place where The Ark of Covenant is being kept, I went there using an individual travelling program which was put together by travelling agency called "Origins Ethiopia Tours & Travel". I am so glad, that everything went smoothly . They took very good care of me. The flight from Vilnius to Frankfurt and then to Adis Abeba took about 8 hours. Trully to say, I felt a slight pang of concerrn -who knows will be I meeted at airport and what would to do if not? But the guest service officer was waited me and I was taken to the hotel. There I was met by mr. Samson Teshome  Demena ,the main head of the travelling agency .We got few details of our trip sorted and the next morning I was ready to take my local flight to the north,city called Mekele from  where I started my journey to Danakil. I was the only one European at the airplane but the locals were so pleased seeing me and kept asking where are  I am from and why and  where I travel alone. _DSC4435At   the Mekele I joined other travellers- a couple from England, german professor of vulcanology and teacher of geography from US. We were leading by three guides ,had a three 4WD  and began our journey After short driving on a paved road we had to turn on  the wild one and for the rest of the day we just continued going through the sandy desert. The heat was hard to handle, all the dust and circling sand created an impression of a surreal world and it makes you feel like a dust yourself and realize, that only water has a real value here. Sometimes it looked as if we're entering a storm at sea. For a while we reached our main campsite, cars had no possibilty go further because of the lava fields. We took only our essiantials for three days (another needed gear was carried by camels) P1080234and continued walking by feet to the first main destination – Erta Ale volcano . In the local language Erta Ale means "A steaming mountain".IMG_0330 This volcano is still active, the last eruption had happened  on   25th.of January,2017.  Erta Alle, Danakil Depression and the Lake Assale  (or lake  Karum ) creates the Afar triangle.On the top of this volcano there is a lava lake. The only five volcanos in the whole  world  are having this tipe of thing. Walking through massive stones of lava was very tiredning because of the dusts, heat and the thirstiness which you can't avoid even drinking plenty of water.  We finally reached our campsite at the bottom of Erta Ale.The plan was to start climbing to the top at the middle of the night  because the weather is going to get cooler at that time. Campsite was undisturbed by civilization, little sheds made by branches looked like being _DSC4445here since the times of D.Livingston when he was travelling around the Africa, looking for the origins of the Nile 170 years ago. Sky was bright and cloudless, through the holes in the roof we could count the stars. Food was incredible:national ethiopic bread "injero " with the rice, pasta and vegetables on top.

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We sat round the table and all dipped pieces of the bread into a single dish containing a powerfully delicious the all kind sauces. After that- amazing Ethiopian coffee called "buna ". Around 3a.m. we started walking. It was 13 km. walk through the lava field and 630m. climbing up on the top of the volcano.In the moonlight our walk was very mysterious. This took us 4 hours ,but the scenery was worth all the slight  tiredness we had to experience during  this walk. Note:for those,who feel that will be difficult to walk , there are camels.IMG_20170125_054339 Lava was bubbling, little fires sparkling and the steam going up.13124733_978065392247097_25520375290111044_nThe view was amazingly hard to explain or even to picture as in the photo you can't feel that strong smell of sulfur, sound of boiling hot, bubling lava. That's why the locals started calling this place "the gates to hell ". I couldn't image hell being very different .After walking back and having some rest, me and the rest of my group went to different ways. They continued the journey and went to see the other volcanos. I, together with my guide, went back to the campsite , took our 4WD and started driving to the most unique place in the world – the crater of Dalol located at the depression of Danakil. This had been found by europeans by 17-18 th century but unfortunately after that nobody never organized any tours as the heat was dangerous together with an acid lakes and toxic steams. Because of isolation and non stable political situation ,ferocious tribes  living nearby, nobody was visiting this harsh, inhospitable place , only in 2005, the French explorer and documentalist N. Hulo introduced the the depression of Danakil to an audience. Depression of Danakil is the lowest point on Earth, 136,8m. below the sea level, temperature can reach +45-55 C degrees._DSC4758 This volcano creature is the most eccentric in our planet, which is being known because of very interesting geological structures like hot and soar water, hills of sulfur, little geysers of gas and salt poles. Word "Dalol "in a native Amhar language means "cracked, crushed "_DSC4735. Sometimes geysers and springs are steaming together with the poisonous gas.Non stable base is a real danger for an animals and human beings. It happened after the many floods and low tides by Red sea, created by the sun, wind, sand and salt. I have been to many places in the whole world, climbed volcanos in Guatemala,  Mexico, Hawaii, Reunion, Iceland and so on, but I have never seen anything that awesome landscape , who, looking from afar ,  was similar to an enormous old Persian carpet.P1080336  Place looked so surreal , mesmerizing and absolutely incredible. I was surrounded by lava, salt rocks and the green-blue -orange coloured lakes. I have never seen this before and shall treasure the memory of it. It is  difficult  to reach the Dalol crater. You have to walk about 5 km. through the desert, leaded by the armed security and local people as intermediary, as it is dangerous place since the  intensive situation between an Eritrea and Ethiopia happened. I reckon, that is why here are not creating any infrastructure for tourism  trying to attract  the tourists. The last settlement before lake Assal is village Hamed  Ela._DSC4629_DSC4634 The village is poor:there are no phone connection, no electricity, water supply. Locals live in a tiny  shacks  built by branches ,water is carried in the special canisters from the well in the desert. But this didn't made any inconvieniences to me. In my travels I do not worry too much about my living conditions, meal and another things. What about a meal here, in our living at Hamed Ela? The food, prepared by the guide Habtom and driver Semenh was deliciuos,drinking water was enough. _DSC4652 Local people earning money selling the salt at the closest market in the city Berhale which they are getting from the salt lake using a very difficult manual way._DSC4875 It is incredibly tough work of the salt miners , extracting salt pieces tens of thousands of years ago from this harsh, inhospitable land. I think so  it looks only for us, not  accustomed to see such an unusual to our eyes landscape. The locals love their native land and their hard work. For the transportation they use a camels. When the sun is going down , it's very nice to see an endless convoys of camels carying the massive bricks of salt on their backs. They are leaded by the proud , straight teamsters ,most of them are barefoot or wearing flip-flop sandals ._DSC5004 Apparently their feet are used to be soaked in the salty lake water. The camels draw closer moving with a careful gait, noses upturned, as if finding the whole thing intensely distasteful. Seems like they are being hipnotized by their daily journey, however looking very graceful in motion and in repose.Their long eyelashes can envy any girl .Whenever  we left the most awful place in the world- the crater of Dalol , headed to explore the other, no less  interesting part of Ethiopia :lush history of Ethiopia, amazing heritage of religion,marvelous nature and local people.P1080514 Indeed, the local people are beautiful here :the women are tall and graceful, carying loads on their heads ,are walking with that classic grace which Europian women seem to have lost.

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Men long legged and proud, often with sticks in their arms, seemed they are swimming while   walking. Faces are wery symetric , some of the  older people have crosses tattooed on their foreheads.Their skin has a beautiful coppery tint._DSC5436 We were driving past the Great Rift Valley (it's a real miracle created by nature which starts from Lebanon and extends to Mozambique in the south), hills and mountains,and little villages with poor looking huts beside the road. It was already  somebody on the road -walking people, cows, goats or sheeps were always crossing it.P1080476 The road here belongs to everyone._DSC6069 Whenever we stoped to take pictures – kids started surrounding our car , really out of nowhere. We were heading to the Axum city, it was the capital of Ethiopy when the legendary queen of Sheba (or Makeda) was in throne. She met the  king of Israel Solomon after that gave a birth to the son Menelic. Qeen of Sheba is still the main character of religious art. Even Hollywood made a movie called "Solomon and qeen of Sheba". As a legend says – Menelic stole the Ark of Covenant from Jerusalem , where the two tablets of 10 Gods commandments are kept. He brought the Ark to Ehiophy, and at first hid it in the island of lake Tana. After a while it was  moved to Axum st. Mary Sion chapel and it's being kept there since now  even knowing , that nobody ever seen this. Replicas of the Ark are kept in every Ethiopian Ortodox church ,hidden behind the curtain and only a  priest is allowed to see it. An original Ark of the Covenant is looked after only of the one priest and nobody else in the world , any other human being is not allowed to go there and see it. Nobody but that one priest had never seen the Ark . It's the real story or a very deep faith? Nobody can tell. ._DSC5324

_DSC5355The most famous thing in Axum are  the monolitic stelaes which can be found in various sizes. From 1 meter to 20-25 meters high. As researches found it was used as a tombstones. At the 4th century after the christianity was accepted in Ethiopia, building of stelaes had stopped. During the Mussolini invasion in Ethiopia (1935-1944), one of the stelaes was stolen and taken to Rome but in 2005 returned back and restored at  the same place from where it was stolen. Kings and dynasties were changing , time was passing and it changed the lifestyle of the African people, however, the faith, rituals and churches stayed the same since the begining of christianity. Syrians brought the christianity to Ethiopia at the 4th. century. For a while, the community of religious people was very closed, they made very own with  unique traditions an ortodox Tevahedo church. Ethiopians are very religious even nowadays ,everybody can be sure to say that Ethiopia is the realest stronghold of christianity in the whole world._DSC5313_DSC5298

_DSC6258The stone churces of Lalibela are surrounded by the secrets and myths, they are build at the outlying highlands of Ethiopia. Historicans says, that  the churches were built by medieval warriors while coming back from the Saint Land. (G. Hancock, exploring the history of Ethiopia) ,but locals believe, that more than 1000 years ago churches were built by the imperator Lalibela who was helped by angels. It is said, that in one church there is a pillar wrapped in canvas where Lalibela described the construction of the churches , but it is blasphemy to remove this and nobody dare to do it. 

There are 11 chuches altogether built in Lalibela and the biggest one is called "Beta Medhane Alem"(residence of Emanuel ),it takes 800 square meters and is the biggest monolitic building in the world. The majestic casing is held by 72 columns. Half of them inside, half- outside. Incredible thing is "Beta Georgis", st. George church is called after st. George, guard of Ethiopia. The cross shaped church is the miracle of an art of building. Church is made inside a big hollow, after builders had  finished with the windows and the doors they created a space inside. All the churches are connected by the tunnels and it is like a very confusing maze- narrow coridors, underground passages and raillings which are connecting all the churches together. They don't look in their best condition but still  are working. Every church has own priest who is always pleased to show the patrimony of the church- old,around 700 years old Bibles written in an ancient  languages._DSC6221 Piligrims often come visit Lalibela from every place in Ethiopia, some of them just sit on their own and read the Bible. At the very first, the plan was to make Lalibela to  be the new Jerusalem because at this time Jerusalem was occupied by muslims , even the river, which goes through the city was named Jordan.

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_DSC6019After leaving an amazing churches of Lalibela ,started going ahead to Tana lake. This lake is the biggest in the Ethiopia and one of the biggest lake of the highlands in the world. There could be find various tipes of plants and animals :crocodiles, hippos, loads of water birds and twenty islands with the unique churches and abbeys. We went on a boat and reached the most famous abbey church Uda Zidane Mhiret  with unique collection of icones  from the 16-17 century. 30 km away from there are the waterfalls of the Blue Nile called "Tis Abay "-streaming water. Water is falling from the 45 m. high ,creating the river from deep between the rocks which from the Blue Nile streams into the White Nile and from then being called just a Nile. Coffee trees are growing in the _DSC5910islands of Tana lake , the word "coffee"was made because of the city called "Kaffa"in Ethiopia. The coffee drinking ceremony is a real ritual and it is made only by women. They are roasting, grinding and preparing only after when coffee is already ordered and it's made in a very tiny cups, sweetened. Beside is placed a little stand with myrrh insence which smell is making a very euphoric atmosphere while enjoying coffee. 

_DSC5687Trip was reaching the end, but before I visited Gondero city on my way back. It's  a city from 16 th. century, the capital of  Fasilido empire. Well preserved Fasil- Ghebbi fortress the residence of dynasty of Fasilidu. Inside of the fortress -churches, saunas, swimming pool  which is filled with water during the Timket Melkat (christening) celebration for christians -ortodox could renew their christening sacrament.

Last day of journey was dedicated to the capital- Adis Abeba. (in Amhar language- White Flower ). The city was built in1887 by imperator Menelik the second. As every city of  Africa, Adis Abeba is very chaotic and full of contrasts.  Beside the new buildings, luxurious hotels poor looking houses, streets are very busy and loud.  Driving here requires a great skills from the driver. The noise is creating so much chaos, that you want to go back to the wild and silent nature. Main symbol of the city – baroque church of _DSC6540Three Saints , National and Etnografic museum filled with collections showing the lifestyle of various religions, cultures and traditions of various tribes. Also here is  the famous sceleton of austratropithecus Lucy. I had look around king Menelik the second residency which is made of clay, st. Marys chuch where the imperator was crowned , church of st. George, where all the treasures are being kept. Vibrant and autentic local market "Mercato "is so crowded, you even want to run away before you got  there. The _DSC6595last lunch with my beloved travel companions Habtom and Semenh at the first hotel of Adis Abeba  "Taitu Hotel "  after  the last look to Adis Abeba from the peak of Entoto mountain which is overlooking the city and late at night  flight back to Europe.

It was my fifth time I had been visiting Africa. While plane was going up my memories turned out about an orange Namibian dunes, orange coloured girls  from Himbu tribe,the heards of antilopes and buffalos in national parks of Kenya and Tanzania , Ngorongoro crater, majestic Victoria waterfall , Fish River canyon,  Dragon  and Atlas mountains. I could see the river of lights under  the plane wings. I left  the full of contrasts ,big and interesting land. Tribes from the valley of Omo river I left unseen with all their  unique culture ,paintings and extended tunnels under their  lips, Abaya and Chamo lakes , Nechsar  national park. But it was not the goal of my trip. This country is too big , too interesting and it is impossible explore everything at once. I am very glad, that my dream came true and I had a chance to see a trully unique place in the world – Danakil depression and Dalol crater, to visit a land of the legendary qeen of Sheba and see the churches which still are keeping their archaic identity. Watching praying  rituals of priests  I was feeling like I actually see the live images from an Old Testament. Ethiopia had never been colonised that is why Ethiopians managed to save their African identity for  which they are really proud. That's why Ethiopia is never called British or Francofonic Africa. It is the real Africa. I am very surprised that the tourists from the West  slowly explore the unique nature of Ethiopia yet. They are coming to see the religious places and tribes. And I'cant get one thing out of my head -to come back and explore this full of contrasts land again. It is full of everyting- nature, ancient culture, history. It is nice to have a dream….A dream about Africa….. 

_DSC4893I would love to say the big thank to the  manager of the company "Origins Ethiopia Tours&Travel " Samson Demena Teshome for the perfect organization of my travel, tour guide  Habtom Addis whose  deep knowledge about his country was surprising  and  our     super tough driver Semenh  Getahun .  It's impossible to thank everyone who helped me out the road.P1080325

Afterword

I wonder  that more Western tourists haven't heard of the Danakil depression ,as it is one of the most extraordinary place that I have seen in all my travels across the world. I wish everyone has possibility to visit this the most uninhabitable place on Earth, also the most beautiful and mesmerizing place. But I wonder – Afar region people working so hard  and being so poor having so awesomes landscapes similar to Yellowstone, Canyons of America , New Zealand, South America- why not turn this into tourism industry ? The locals could make much better living if they would start developing what they have.Otherwise, the mystery of Dalol remains largely intact. That is why I write a lot of articles in Lithuanian and English telling about this wonderful land, believing  that more and more tourists will get interested and will help to the Ethiopians to create a better life for themselves .

Leonarda Sarakauskiene , solo traveller , travelled on Feb. 2017

info@sarakauskiene.lt

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