Awash to Harar (Part 1)

I can’t believe that I have already been in Ethiopia for 3 months! I arrived in early July, three bags full of cheese and chocolates (and some other necessities) that are already finished and have settled into Addis Ababa (the capital) for the time being. All that is rather boring though and I would much rather post about an amazing trip that I did driving from Addis Ababa to Awash National Park and Harar, in the Eastern Edge of the country during the Ethiopian New Year Long weekend.

The Idea

I had been obsessing about going to Harar for some time and the long weekend seemed like a great opportunity. We heard from a friend that the drive itself was beautiful so Ryan and I hired a vehicle and a driver to take us and two teacher friends along. There were some problems- mainly that the driver didn’t want to miss Ethiopian New Year so we all spent some time debating whether we should try to find someone else, to go somewhere else completely or take public transit. In the end, we had one driver take us to Awash on Thursday and my regular driving come back and take us up from Harar to Awash on Friday an then to drive back on Sunday.

The Journey

I’m not going to lie- it was long and tiring. We had rain on our way up from Awash to Harar and it just seemed like it was taking forever. I’m still glad that I did it though! The landscape changed from Addis’ highland plains to the lowlands plains of Awash and the Afar Region and then back up through hills carved out by maize and millet fields that reminded me acutely of Rwanda.

In terms of time, it takes 4-5 hours from Addis to Awash National Park and another 6-7 hours to Harar. On our way back on Sunday, we did 10 hours in the car with only 2 breaks. It was pretty intense and we were glad to get home. Would I do this again? Probably not on such a short long weekend. But if it’s the only time you have, I would really suggest doing the drive and flying back (or vice versa). I’m a real believer in getting a feel of the land and landscape patterns of a country and just flying into Dire Dawa and driving to Harar (35 mins) just isn’t the same. Also, you know all that jazz about “it’s about the journey not the destination”.

Awash Lodge

We arrived at Awash Lodge midday and went for a little stroll around. It was a huge temperature difference from Addis and much drier! We had rented a small house and it was great as it had a small balcony overlooking the river and the falls in the distance. We spotted a few crocodiles on the edge of the river almost right away. Unfortunately, I still had a little bit of work to finish so I stayed on the balcony while the others went on a exploratory walk. After some time, I did go to look for them but encountered a large pack of baboons at which point I slowly retreated and went back. I don’t really fancy personal up close baboon encounters on my own!

Awash Lodge is located within the Awash National Park, one of Ethiopia’s many, although this one has been hit particularly hard by immigration of Afar populations and migrants for the local sugar plantation. The landscape was very dry and desert-y with many prickly bushes. There is a large population of homodryous baboons in the area which are often in conflict with the Afar people that live here. An interesting story on human-wildlife interactions that was covered by the BBC.

We just hung out at the lodge and had a lovely supper by the fire. The next day, since the driver wasn’t coming back to pick us up before midday, we went for a walk down the trail following the river bank. We decided to be brave and then came back through the bush following a little bit of an overgrown trail. It was about an hour and a half walk and I thoroughly enjoyed it (although it would have been a good idea to bring some water along). After a quick shower and lunch, our driver was there to pick us up and we were on our way for the second part of our adventure.

Awash Falls Lodge
Awash Lodge has a variety of places to sleep. There are tukuls that have 2-3 rooms in them to rent out. We stayed at a Family House that has three rooms, with four beds and loved it.
Awash Lodge Balcony
The view from our balcony overlooked the Awash River and the waterfalls and was a great place to hang out and chill out after a stressful week.
Awash Falls
The waterfalls were quite impressive and it was easy to think that if we somehow missed our step, we would be take away very, very quickly. At least our remains would be eaten by crocodiles… I guess.
Awash River Rapids
The guards were rather skeptical of me being so close to the edge taking this photograph. They said I needed to be back to the Lodge in 15 mins or someone would come looking after me. I’m glad I got the sun setting on the rapids like this.
Evening at Awash Lodge
We enjoyed some cold drinks and food by the fire. And of course, the coffee ceremony with sugary popcorn was a great way to end off our first day of vacation.

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4 thoughts on “Awash to Harar (Part 1)

  1. Salut Raïsa!
    Quel bonheur de te voir de retour sur ton blogue! Je suis contente d’avoir de tes nouvelles (tu sais que je suis la seule personne sur terre à ne pas être sur Facebook, c’est pourquoi je ne suis pas au courant de ce que tu fais, au jour le jour et comment s’est déroulé ta vie depuis ton dernier post ici. Merci pour ce beau récit de voyage et les photos qui nous donnent une bonne idée de votre trip. Tu sais que tu marches vraiment sur les traces de Jackie? Prends soin de toi et salutations à to mari!
    M

    1. Merci pour ta patience Monika! Je suis toujours entrain de penser à tout ce que je voudrais écrire mais bon. L’Éthiopie c’est magique comme pays. Est-ce que Jackie était venue ici?

  2. You are having such an amazing journey through life… Thank you for taking us along on this trip. Love very detail. Every pic.

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