Debre Libanos Monastery, Ethiopia | Part 2 (10 Photos)

Here are the next and final set of photos from my day trip from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to the Debre Libanos Monastery and surrounding areas.  The Great Rift Valley was a particularly striking feature. 

(For the first set of photos, please check out my previous blog post.)

1: A short drive from the monastery, we stopped for lunch at the Ethio-German Park Hotel overlooking the Great Rift Valley. We had a wide range of vegetarian dishes, along with injera, which is a bread made from a grain called teff. There’s nothing like a large gaping hole in the earth to give you a ravenous appetite!

2: After lunch we had some traditional Ethiopian coffee. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee! The one thing I will miss about living in East Africa is the easy access to fresh Ethiopian coffee.

3: The Great Rift Valley is a series of geological features that run from Lebanon, all the way down to Mozambique. This particular part of the Great Rift Valley is the East African Rift. This is the point at which two tectonic plates meet, the Somali Plate, and the Nubian Plate. Unfortunately it was a very hazy day, but you take what the weather gives you.

4: Nearby is a bridge that crosses a ravine. It is referred to as the Portuguese Bridge. It is rumored to have been built in the 16th century to allow Portuguese foot soldiers to cross. Although many Portuguese emigrated to Ethiopia in the 16th Century, the actual origin of the bridge is still a subject for debate. I was told some claim it was actually built by Ethiopians some 200 years later.

5: A man carrying a bushel of grass being led by a donkey can be seen crossing the bridge. From this angle, you can see how the bridge was built into the existing geological features. You get a sense that one good earthquake would bring down the entire structure. You can see a bit of standing water, but during the wet season a torrent of water can flow beneath the bridge.

6: Some locals emerge from the bridge being led by some pack donkeys. They were very friendly and greeted us with smiles. The bridge is still regularly used by locals.

7: Not only humans use the bridge! Here we see a troop of geladas, also called bleeding-heart monkeys, crossing the bridge.

8: A few geladas scramble across a cliff face. These monkeys are closely related to baboons, and are unique to the Ethiopian highlands. They have a distinctive red chest, which is why they are called bleeding heart monkeys. Just like with baboons, the dominant males are particularly large and imposing.

9: You can faintly see the bridge in the distance. More noteworthy is the cascade of boulders falling into the rift below. Some of these boulders are the size of cars, and were all forced from the cliff face during the wet season.

10: Opuntia, commonly called prickly pear, is prevalent in the area. Though not indigenous to Africa, it thrives here. Its edible fruit is harvested and sold out of carts by the locals. It originates from the Americas, and the seeds are easily dispersed by animals. I’ve seen some farms in the area use it as a natural barrier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *