On to Southern Ethiopia (January 27, 2012)

>The next day, we headed south, towards the lake region of the Rift Valley. The Rift Valley was formed by the movement of tectonic plates along a 4,000km fault line in Africa, running from the Red Sea, through Ethiopia to Kenya, and on through to Mozambique. I have seen this great valley in Uganda and Kenya, and will now experience it in Ethiopia. It is believed that, millions of years from now, this “rift” will fill in with water and will result in an actual separation of the African continent. in Ethiopia, there are six lakes which were formed by this rift, and that is where we are heading.

On the way, we stopped at a stelae field (graveyard) in Tiya, a UNESCO World Heritage site. These stelae were unearthed in I think it was the 1970’s by a French archaeologist, and they are believed to date back to the 13th century. Some of the stones are more flat to the ground, such as this one….this one had markings that indicate a woman was buried here, but it doesn’t show up very well in this photo…

The markings on this stone, indicate that a warrior was buried here (so indicated by the sword at the top) and that perhaps they were pagans due to the engraving of the sun and moon below that. The bottom carving appears to be of a false banana plant which are native to this area…no one is quite sure what the sideways “w” means…

….there are about 45 gravestones which have been unearthed in this specific area so far, although it is believed there are many more.

….it is believed that the number of swords may indicate how many people each warrior has killed…

We then ventured over to a more modern gravesite…it is not known how old these are, but each one is believed to tell a story about the person buried there….perhaps this person was a hunter (although note he also has on a business suit :-)…

…and maybe this one a scholar…..

….and this one could be seen in the village on his bicycle…..

Anyway, gravestones such as these, commemorating the person in some specific way, are common throughout Ethiopia.

We then headed to Lake Ziway, which is home to a number of bird species. Lots of maribou storks….

…and jacanas….

…I forgot what these are called….

But lots of birds everywhere.

Next to the lake, there were lots of greenhouses, which are being used by the Norwegians to grow flowers, now the third largest export in Ethiopia (after the previously mentioned coffee and animal hides). They had been growing these flowers in Kenya, but Kenya started taxing them heavily. So Ethiopia gave them lots more land, and a several year tax break, to bring their flower business here, to support the local economy. That’s the good news….the bad news is that this plant negatively impacts the fish (tilapia and Nile perch) and the birdlife in this lake, as well as the health of its workers, due to the fertilizers they are using. (bummer).
We then headed to the Sabana Beach Resort, which overlooks Lake Langano. It was quite a walk down to the lake, so only a couple of people in our group took in the waters of the lake, which are supposed to be restorative…when one of them told me she felt something slither along her leg, I was glad I hadn’t taken the plunge :-).

As we sat out on the deck, we saw this other local bird, the Jackson hornbill…I am surprised this came out so clear, as he was pretty far away from us up in a tree!

Tomorrow…we meet some of the tribes in the Omo Valley region.

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Location:Lake Langano, Ethiopia

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