Hyenas in Harar

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Africa » Ethiopia » Harari Region » Harar
April 3rd 2012
Published: July 2nd 2012
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After leaving Berbera, we got back into Hargeisa early enough. I had a multi entry visa for Ethiopia, but Jack and Joris had to get new visas. Unfortunately the Ethiopian consulate was closed, so we had to spend another night in Hargeisa, which was fairly uneventful. The next morning the two lads got their visas easy enough and we found a car to take us to the border. We had hoped to reach Harar that evening but we got into Jijiga too late and had to spend the night there. It had only been 5 days, but it was good to be back in Ethiopia and the beers that night went down very well!

The next morning we got a minibus to Harar. Harar is considered the 4th holiest Islamic city in the world. The old walled city is a maze of back alleys with one or two main streets. There are a number of old gates leading into the city. It is definitely very different to anywhere else in Ethiopia. Virtually every girl and woman seemed to be carrying some ridiculous load on their head as they walked around.

Unsurprisingly, being the 4th holiest Islamic city, there are over 100 mosques in the city. However, one of the most dominant buildings in the walled city is the Orthodox church. There are also an incredible amount of bars in the walled city. Chat is very popular here as well and there are many people selling it, with a dedicated market to it...most of the men seem to have been chewing it all day as well.

Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, who was supposedly descended from Solomon, grew up in Harar and it is possible to visit the house, or what they claim is the house. They refer to it as Ras Tefari's house, as this was how he was known before he became Emperor. The Rastafari movement take their name from him, as they believed him to be another incarnation of the Christian God, Jah.

Possibly, the main attraction in Harar is in the evening, when the Hyena-man feeds the wild hyenas. At sunset, the hyenas begin together outside his house and the Hyena-man has a bucket of meat, which feeds them off a stick - both in his hand and then in his mouth. The hyenas are surprisingly timid and cower away from any people that approach them. That said, when I was invited to feed them myself by putting a stick in my mouth and a piece of meat on the end, they seemed vicious enough!

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