Face to Face with wild African animals!
Trip Start Sep 03, 2011
38Trip End Ongoing
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I had been to the churches of northern Ethiopia, the rivers of western Ethiopia and the tribes of southern Ethiopia so I decided I had better see what eastern Ethiopia had to offer. I met a girl named Marit from Germany who had been volunteering in Addis Ababa for the past two months and had not been able to travel. She told me it would be great to travel with someone like me that had been around a little and kinda knew how to handle things. I told her the east was the only direction in Ethiopia I had not seen yet and if she was willing to head that direction she should pack her bag and get ready to go! We got on a bus at 5am and off we went. It was only a short 8 hour bus ride through some beautiful deserted countryside that brought us to our destination of Harar. I have to admit this was by far the most welcoming city in Ethiopia I visited. The people were so kind and helpful it was unbelievable. I am not sure if it was due to the amount of Chat they were chewing (which I mentioned in one of the previous entries) or if they were just genuinely friendly? Either way it was great. I had heard about feeding wild Hyenas with a short beef K-bob and this sounded like the ideal experience for me to have. It was amazing sitting face to face with what most people will never see other than on the movie Lion King. I couldn't help but think I was kneeling down feeding the ferocious Ed. Wooohoohooo! They were a lot bigger than I had imagined which might have something to do with the fresh meat every night but they were still mean and ugly! It was a really cool thing to do though. The next day we decided to take a short trip to Babile about 30 minutes from Harar which cost less than one dollar on the local mini-bus. We were not real sure what we would be able to see there but once again we were not disappointed. It had some amazing rock formations and we hiked around and climbed all over them. The view from atop was beautiful and you could see even more extreme rock formations in the far distance. Babile also has the Babile Elephant Sanctuary which hardly anyone knows about. There are not very many elephants and everyone says the chance of seeing them is pretty slim. We were offered a tour to go see them in the much needed 4X4 Landcruiser but it was way too expensive for our budget. We managed to find a guy that was willing to take us for less than half the price in a local mini-bus. I figured it was going to be difficult getting there and actually seeing an elephant but I also thought of the adventure of taking a mini-bus into 4x4 country so we did it. The road was pretty bad but definitely doable. I made them guarantee us we would see elephants and without hesitation they said "no problem". We stopped at the main office to purchase our entry tickets and a scout decided he needed to go with us. We drove deep into the sanctuary as far as the mini-bus could go and then we got out and started trekking. There were camels and farmers randomly passing by and most of the herdsmen decided they should also join us in search of the largest African land animal. It was nice having them along seeing how they knew the territory and where the elephants could be found. We were walking along taking pictures and they told us to pick up the pace because the elephants were obviously not going to wait around for us. We got deeper into the thick brush and finally started hearing the elephants walking and tearing down the brush in their paths. My heart started beating a little faster with excitement knowing we were actually going to have a chance of seeing them. Finally we tracked them down! The brush was so thick and my new cheap Ethiopian camera is not the best ( I broke my other one ) so I had to sneak in for a closer shot. You don't really know how close you are until you walk around a bush and see the biggest bull elephant staring right at you!! There I was face to face with the biggest wild animal I had ever seen!! It was amazing! My heart was racing like you would not believe but I had to get the picture! He started towards me, angry or curious not sure but everyone else assumed it was anger so they ran while I snapped the first shot then I ran like crazy knowing I had to pass at least one of the persons in my party to save my own life! Haha I knew the elephant would not have to duck and dodge through the brush like me so after a bit of running I knew I was ok and could sneak back for some more shots. This was definitely the highlight of my trip to Ethiopia and I will never forget it! I have decided to move on from Africa now. My heart and dreams are in South America so I figure why use more time and money elsewhere when the place I love is waiting for me. I will fly to Madrid on January 23, 2012 and spend a couple of weeks with some great friends of mine I met here in Ethiopia. I also mentioned them in an earlier entry. From Madrid my plan is to fly to Panama City, Panama where I ended my trip in January 2008. From there...hmmm?? Stay tuned!
P.S I want to thank all of you again for reading my blog. I was notified in email by www.travelpod.com they chose my blog to be featured on their main page. It won't be immediately but sometime in the near future it's going to be there!