Day 2: Debre Libanos


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Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Debre Markos
October 17th 2016
Published: May 12th 2017
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A small town 2 hours north of Addis AbabaA small town 2 hours north of Addis AbabaA small town 2 hours north of Addis Ababa

Trucks most carrying fuel and food does mostly carry an extra semitrailer. The local people use other methods to carry larger and heavier stuff. Horse and carrier, but with a donkey in stead of a horse.
After one day in Addis Ababa it was time to leave the Capital and to travel north. I will keep travelling North, taking a West Route via Lake Tana and Gondor / Simien Mountains, until I reach Lalibella. From here, I will travel back to the Addis Ababa again, this time taking a east route via Kombolcha. What can you expect in the North? The nature is beautiful with meadows, the Highlands, the deep canyons and the mountains. Today I visit different viewpoints to see the great nature for the first time of my Trip to North Ethiopia. The Simien Mountains contains endangered animals with only populations left in the Siemein Mountains The top three animals to see at the Siemien Mountains are the Gelada Baboons, Walia Ibex, and the Ethiopian Wolf (which actually looks more like a fox). Today, I would meet one of these animals already. I did not expect to see one of these animals outside of the Simien mountains. Another great attraction of the North is the many of churches, monasteries and chapels. All decorated in an Ethiopian way. All the art in these churches are familiar with each other and linked to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
A small town 2 hours north of Addis AbabaA small town 2 hours north of Addis AbabaA small town 2 hours north of Addis Ababa

Travelling outside Addis Ababa, going up north you see a lot of these towns. The main road is from asphalt. Beside the side roads, local people are living.
Chruch. Still, each church or monastery has its own style and it is unique. Today, I would visit the Monastery of Debre Libanos.



At 7.30 am it was time to leave Addis Ababa. As in each major city, monday mornings means it is the perfect time for traffic time. Therefore, we would to leave as early as possible to avoid the traffic jam and to reach Debre Libanons on time, before the service would start. The service at Debre Libanos is not open for non-believers. However, leaving at 7.30 am on a Monday means you cannot avoid the traffic jam completely. One plus is that we would go outside the city, where most people at Mondays want to go inside the city. After one hour, we travelled up north to the Entoto Hills, passing the Running camp of Haile Gebrselassie. Haille Gebrselassie is a long distance runner, known for different indoor tittles but famous for his World Record on the Berlin Marathon (42,2 km) of 2008. He run the Berlin Marathon that year in a time of 2:03:59. This record stood for years. A fact is that the current world Record is also ran in Berlin, in
Portraits in the local townPortraits in the local townPortraits in the local town

Local people liked to pose for the Camera. Here are some of the best Portraits.
2015, with a time barely under 2 hours and 3 minutes. Haile Gebrselassie also has two Olympic gold and four World Champion at the 10 km distance. He won four times the Berlin Marathon (42,2 km) and three times the Dubai Marathon, and was the World Half Marathon (21,1 km) Champion. To support new talents in running, Haile Gebrselassie has a training camp at the Entoto Hills of Addis Ababa. International athletes are travelling to this camp to perform training at high camps. Due the high attitude of the Entoto Hills (3200m) the athletes will train in air containing less oxygen as on sea level. Therefore, the body will produce extra red blood cells and haemoglobin, to take up more oxygen. It is believed that, athletes that will travel back to sea level will still have a high concentration of red blood cells for 10 to 14 days, before the body starts to break down the extra red blood cells. Which can lead to a competitive advantage. Everywhere you cross Ethiopian towns, you might spot people running. It is faster than walking. Walking, or running, is important in life and everywhere you see people walking or running. Not only alone,
Portraits in the local townPortraits in the local townPortraits in the local town

As you look close, this woman has face tattoos.
quite often with their cattle, also to carry things and to travel between towns. People do not own a car, due the high coast or even a bike. In some cities it is possible to take a bus, and you also can lift with a truck for travelling longer distances. When driving out of Addis Ababa there are many small cities and towns, which are almost grown into Addis Ababa. How further you are travelling away from Addis Ababa, how smaller the cities and the towns become. Therefore, you will see more meadows and sometimes a small mountain including the highlands. Traffic on the road mostly consist by trucks. Travelling on the road in Ethiopia means that the road is also used for travelling people by feet and for farmers wandering with their cattle’s from meadow to meadows, highlands and towns. The cattle’s consist out of goats, cows, sheep, donkeys and sometimes horses. Most of the donkey’s are used for horse and carrier. Horses are bigger and more expensive, therefore a lot local people use donkey’s for this usage. After more than one hour driving, all towns we passed, are sort of “passing towns”, towns with one main road where
Portraits in the local townPortraits in the local townPortraits in the local town

This elderly woman is walking before the local Butchery. You can recognize the Butchery at the red crosses on upper side of a white wall, where the downside is red.
traffic mostly stops for coffee or the local market.



After two hours of driving, we made a stop in a small town. In a small hotel, we were able to take some coffee and walk around. Also, the lunch was prepared. We will take lunch on a viewpoint. In this town, much trucks are passing by. Therefore, a lot of people of the town are living quite close at the road. Sometimes trying to sell something and when a truck or a bus arrives the local people are coming to watch, some try to get a lift. Much of the truck drivers stop to take a coffee, sleep, for food or sometimes because they live here. The contrast between the trucks and the local travel is big. Much trucks are gasoline trucks or food. In some cases they carry cold products. Therefore the trucks are – for Ethiopian standards in good quality. Almost all of the trucks do have an extra Semitrailer. Those trucks are moving north, mostly to transport fuel and food to South Sudan, North Sudan, Djibouti or Eritrea. The local people are moving by feet. Some people have a horse and carrier, carried by
Portraits in the local townPortraits in the local townPortraits in the local town

This man is protecting himself for the sun and the heat.
a donkey, a horse is too expensive. At the carrier itself, people carry a lot of stuff, including up to 3 to 4 people and larger object. This is a huge difference to the larger trucks. When walking around, we almost became an attraction our self. The local people liked to been photographed, laughed about this and pose for the camera. The best Portraits in this town I add to this report. I felt safe when walking around. It is possible, even for a woman, to walk inside a sand road to make pictures without any negative experiences. Also the children are nicely here. In bigger cities and in the south, the local children can be quite hard to lose them. They keep following you, in hope they get candy, food, water, hand soap, pens/pencils or money. After time of coffee and a warm welcome in this town, we stepped in the bus further to Debre Libanos.



Close to Debre Libanos there is a great viewpoint to look from the mountains into the highlands. The landscape here is almost similar to the Simien mountains, high mountains with deep valley’s and highlands everywhere you can look. The most
Gelada Baboons close at Debre LibanosGelada Baboons close at Debre LibanosGelada Baboons close at Debre Libanos

Closeby the Monastary of Debre Libanos, there is beautiful overview point. The Gelada Baboons do like these kind of environment. Therefore they waited for the bus to pass by to say "hi".
famous animals of the Simien Mountains are animals which currently have populations only existing in the Simien Mountains or the North of Ethiopia. The three most popular animals for which can be seen in the Simien Mountains are the Ethiopian wolf, the Gelada Baboon and the Walia ibex. Sadly, all of these animals are very endangered. The Ethiopian wolf and the Walia Ibex are very hard to see during a tourist visit at the Simien Mountains, but the changes are big to see the Gelada Baboons. Today, driving to Debre Libanos and passing some passes, we were lucky to see one of these animals today. It was the Gelada Baboons. Normally, tourist almost do not see them close to Debre Libanos. We were lucky. I made some fast shots before the tour leader decided to move further to the Monastery of Debre Libanos. The changes of seeing more Gelada Baboons are very high in the Simien, and therefore making pictures of them is a lot easier than from the bus’ windows. For more information about Simien, check out my blogpost about the Simien Mountains.



Everyone was still surprised by the Gelada Baboons when we arrived by the
The Monastery of Debre LibanosThe Monastery of Debre LibanosThe Monastery of Debre Libanos

The Priest gave us a tour through the Monastery.
Monastary of Debre Libanos. For the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Chruch, Debre Libanos is one of the important holy places of Ethiopia. A lot of Ethiopian pilgrims are coming to Debre Libanos, almost all in white. They do believe that the holy waters clean from evil spirits and stomach disorders. The priest founding the original Debre Libanos is a saint, Saint Tekla Haimanot. Saint Tekla Haimanot is coming from a line of Solomonic Kings and spread the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Chruch, Debre Libanos early on into the highlands. Sadly, Debre Libanos, build in the 13th century, was set into fire at 21 July 1531 byUra'i Abu Bakr during the invasion of Ahmad Gragn. It did not burn totally to the ground but was heavy damaged. It took until 1699 before everything was rebuild, it finished after the visit of Emperor Iyasu the Great. The Monastery is famous for theMosaics and the windows of stained-glass. In Ethiopia, the use of stained-glass (windows) is very rare. Visiting this monastery is very nice. The service is not open for visitors, but still there is a good opportunity to see how people are praying and to see their rituals in the Monastery. People are reading
The Monastery of Debre LibanosThe Monastery of Debre LibanosThe Monastery of Debre Libanos

The Monastery is quite big inside. The Altar, as the rest of the Monastery does remember a little bit like the European Churches.
the bible, written in Amharic, people are praying before candles. A lot of people are praying quite intensively they would not recognise you when you pass by (with respect). They also do not pay attention when your guide is explaining about the Monastery. It is possible to photograph inside the Monastery, but not inside the museum. There is a museum on the site of the Monastery which is great to visit. Also here, a guide is a plus. Just on time for the service, we left the site and going for lunch.



A served lunch was served at one of the viewpoints close by Debre Libanos. The view point is on top of a local mountain, where you have a great sight over the meadows and the highlands. As you look down, there is a river deep inside the valley. This river is the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile comes together with the White Nile in Sudan and streaming north up to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. The Blue Nile rises from Lake Tana by Bahir Dar (as discussed in the next blogpost). In North West Ethiopia, the Blue Nile feeds the landscapes. The Nile forms canyons,
The Monastery of Debre LibanosThe Monastery of Debre LibanosThe Monastery of Debre Libanos

One Woman is praying inside the Monastery. The Monastery is mostly visit by pilgrims due the fact that Debre Libanos is one of the holiest places of Ethiopian.
small waterfalls and makes the landscape fertility. Not only for the local people, but also for the wildlife. This canyon, by Debre Libanos is an example. In the canyon, close at the rivers, small animals and fishes are living. Birds are flying over the canyon to hunt on these small animals. And some other birds are maybe a little bit smarter. This place is mostly visit as viewpoint for tourists. And tourist means food. The birds are waiting until the tourist can feed them by throwing food at them, or simply after the tourists are gone, picking the rests that the tourist left. After taking lunch by this viewpoint, we head on to Debre Markus. Therefore, we should cross the Nile two times and have a great view over the landscape.



The road to Debre Markus is still taking some time to travel, around three hours at least. The way itself is quite beautiful with great landscapes of mountains, meadows, highlands and small towns. Here, we pass the Portuguese bridge, known for its great viewpoint. In the past, this bridge was also used for vehicle transport. Nowadays, another bridge was build for the vehicle, to protect the
The Monastery of Debre LibanosThe Monastery of Debre LibanosThe Monastery of Debre Libanos

Usage of stained-glass is very rare in Ethiopia. As you can see, a huge Image is presented over different windows.
Portuguese bridge. The total amount of transport is growing in Ethiopia. Trucks not only become heavier and larger, but also the amount of trucks increases. Equally for cars and busses. In the past there were more situations that trucks had to pass each other on the bridge. There was no space for this, and causing a lot of problems on the bridge. Not only for the space, but also the heavy loads of all the trucks on the bridge became a quite danger. Therefore, a new bridge was build, which is calculated on this situation and the situation in the future. The bridge very broad and build that it can carry a lot of fully loaded trucks. Therefore, it is forbidden, as vehicle to use the old Portuguese bridge. Only people by feet (and their cattle) are allowed to take the old Portuguese bridge. The old Portuguese bridge is a great viewpoint and a nice walk for tourists nowadays. Therefore, the bus stopped to leave us out, driving over the new bridge where he can wait for us to pick us up. We walk over the Old Portuguese Bridge to stretch the legs, enjoy the beautiful viewpoints and taking pictures.
DSC_0330_176DSC_0330_176DSC_0330_176

A viewpiont close by Debre Libanos gives a perfect sight on the valley, where the Blue Nile is flushing through. The landscape is very fertility.
The Bridge is build by the Portuguese people in the 16h country. Because you can walk about the bridge, you can make here beautiful pictures and enjoy the viewpoint. At the point we were here, a local a goat herder with his goat was crossing the bridge as well. The herder himself would not be on the photo, but his goats where quite interested in my camera. From here, there is also a small hike possible to a 600m waterfall. However, I skipped this small hike. It was time to go back to the bus to drive to Debre Markus.





The rest of the trip itself was nice. Great landscapes and a good view. A little bit later as planned, at 6.15 pm, we arrived at the Gozamen Hotel in Debre Markus. The room was great, there was electricity, good water and the room itself was big. I took diner at 8 pm. If you would like to try a good pizza, you can try a pizza in this hotel. The pizza’s here are from one of the best pizza’s in Ethiopia. Tomorrow, we drive to Bahar Dar, where we stay two nights. Directly tomorrow,
Canyon at Debre LibanosCanyon at Debre LibanosCanyon at Debre Libanos

In the canyon, the highlands and the meadows, small animals are living. Predator birds are hunting on them by floating above the canyon, as you see here.
we will visit the Blue Nile Waterfalls, where you can hike beautiful in nature, after we visit the school If you are lucky small children from the school are playing around. The day after, I visit Lake Tana. In this gigantic lake you can find small islands with churches and monasteries. With a boat, we visit some islands to visit those churches. In Bahir Dar you also can visit the cattle market and the big market. Here, I made great pictures. This you can read in my next blogpost.


Additional photos below
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Canyon at Debre LibanosCanyon at Debre Libanos
Canyon at Debre Libanos

Why should you even fly above the canyon if you know this place is a viewpiont for tourist and you have learned that tourists always brings food?
The Portuguese bridgeThe Portuguese bridge
The Portuguese bridge

The Portuguese bridge was in the past used for transport. The bridge was not able to carry the many loads and the amount of trucks and therefore a new bridge was build for vehicles.
The Portuguese bridgeThe Portuguese bridge
The Portuguese bridge

Our bus is driving over the new bridge. The landscape to Debre Markos is also great to see outside the bus.
The Portuguese bridgeThe Portuguese bridge
The Portuguese bridge

One of the viewpoints of The Portuguese bridge
The Portuguese bridgeThe Portuguese bridge
The Portuguese bridge

The Blue Nile flows though the mountains. At The Portuguese bridge you can see that the Nile is flowing through a great landscape.
The Portuguese bridgeThe Portuguese bridge
The Portuguese bridge

The goats took also the The Portuguese bridge. The Herder itself would not go on the photo, but his goats where quite interested in my camera.
The Portuguese bridgeThe Portuguese bridge
The Portuguese bridge

The goats went going home and we went further on the road to Debre Markus.


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