We are in Ethiopia, at Arbaminch, and today we are leaving to head North.
Around Arbaminch we visited a Konso village and climbed 2700 meters to get to know the Dorze and to celebrate the Meskel with them, we also visited the Nech Sar National Park; they were all wonderful experiences and we are very happy to have done them, but now it is time to leave.
The road is almost all uphill but in general here the roads are more beautiful than in the Omo Valley, we see that, as there are more people and more passage, maintenance is better; the climate is pleasant, it is always warm but there is a pleasant breeze, we keep the windows of the car open because we want to enjoy the view and this sparkling air.
We cross the lands of the Halabas, it is easy to recognize them, the men wear a very tall cylindrical straw hat, it is particular and also very beautiful; it is not unusual to see them walking along the road or driving a cart, in practice a wooden platform with two tire wheels, pulled by one or more donkeys.
Even the traditional Halaba huts are very beautiful: they are circular with a sloping straw roof, the peculiarity that distinguishes them from the huts of other populations is that they have walls painted with geometric designs or elementary representations.
The land of the Halabas is much greener and more luxuriant than in the South and in the villages there are often huge trees with large fronds that shade and give shelter from the light and heat of the sun.
We stop for lunch along the road in the same restaurant where we had lunch when we headed South from Addis Abeba; here in fact there is not much choice and we see that many Westerners stop here.
Our final destination today is Lake Hawassabut before we get there we have another stop that we care about: the Senkele Swayne Hartebeest Sanctuary.
In the Senkele Swayne Hartebeest Sanctuary, as the name itself reveals Swayne Hartebeest are protected, an endemic species of Ethiopia at risk of extinction.
This small protected area of 58 sq km is located on the hills to the West of Shashemene and was created in 1976 precisely to protect this rare species of hartebeest, that is found only in this area; unfortunately the Swayne Hartebeests have suffered periods of intense poaching but today, within the Senkele Swayne Hartebeest Sanctuary, there are about 500 specimens.
There are few roads within the Senkele Swayne Hartebeest Sanctuary but it is fairly easy to spot the Swayne hartebeests because the size of the reserve is small; it is also possible to get out of the car and walk off-track, always accompanied by a ranger, so it is possible to get close to the animals to be able to see them from near.
We have been able to spot several Swayne hartebeests, despite the tall grass, and we are happy to have come here to see them; at the Senkele Swayne Hartebeest Sanctuary there are also other species of animals such as the greater kudus, waterbucks, warthogs, jackals and about 190 species of birds.
We take a ride and take photos, the light is perfect and the bright green grass and the blue sky are the perfect background to capture the animals here.
We leave the Senkele Swayne Hartebeest Sanctuary and struggle a little to take the correct road because during the rainy season, that has just ended, it has destroyed some roads, but in the end we manage to return to the main road to continue our today journey.
We are in the land of the Oromos, that is called Oromia, the Oromo represent the first ethnic group in Ethiopia, there is also a small group of Oromo living in Kenya; most of the Oromo are Muslims, but some of them are Orthodox Christians.
The Oromo have been persecuted and have been victims of abuses and violence by the Abyssinian kings first and by the rest of the Ethiopian population today, apparently the Oromo are hated a bit by everyone; in recent years some protection has been obtained by the Oromo but unfortunately episodes of discrimination still occur.
Proceeding along the main road we get to Shashemene, this city arose near an important crossroads that connects Addis Abeba, Arbaminch,the Omo Valley, the Bale National Park and Lake Hawassa; moreover it is home to a very important market for several centuries.
But the town of Shashemene owes its main fame, at least to foreign travelers, to the fact that the Emperor Haile Selassie donated private land to a community of Rastafarians who migrated here from Jamaica.
In 1955 the first settlement of Rastafarians was established here and, in the early 70s this community consisted of about 2000 individuals, but many of them returned to the Caribbean during the Derg regime; today there are about 800 Rastafarians living here.
The Rastafarian settlement is located in the Northern part of the town of Shashemene and it is possible to go there for a visit even if honestly there is not much to see except some reference to Jamaica and some Rastafarians who roam the streets; on the other hand, Shashemene is one of the least secure cities in Ethiopia, in fact here there are often thefts and episodes of hostility.
We preferred not to visit Shashemene, we just passed by car fro the Rastafarian quarter but we didn't stop, we preferred not to invade the privacy of these people and, personally, I don't understand all this curiosity towards them.
We continue our journey to Lake Awassa, or Hawassa, tonight we will sleep here and tomorrow we will visit the surroundings.
We chose to stay at the Haile Resort, this hotel belongs to the former marathon runner and gold medalist at the Olympic games, Haile Gebrselassie; the Haile Resort is very beautiful and directly overlooking Lake Awassa, or Hawassa, it is a truly relaxing place.