Northern Ethiopia

bet giorgis

Bet giorgis
The Bet Giorgis is the most spectacular of all the rock hewn monolithic churches of the Lalibela complex, Ethiopia's answer to Petra.  Without question, Lalibela is the most impressive man-made site in sub-Saharan Africa with its 11 temples carved out of the cliffs and quarries in the remote northern mountains of Ethiopia.  It is also the seat of the Ethiopian orthodox church and so paranoid about muslim infiltration that the police survey and/or arrest anybody who looks even remote muslim or arab that enters the town.  The artistic treasures and cultural relics make northern Ethiopia, with the possible exception of Egypt, the most interesting country in Africa for culture mavens, and especially those with an interest in religious iconography.  Nowhere else in Africa will you find such a unique and vibrant culture with historical memory.  Although Ethiopians can be mighty annoying at times, they are definitely curiously eccentric and a must-see on the continent.

Lalibela priest
A fairly young priest is the keeper for one of  the Lalibela churches.

Kibran gabriel

kibran gabriel bible
An Ethiopian cross and a Holy Bible are kept safe at the Kibran Gabriel monastery on an island on Tana Lake, not far from Bahir Dar.

lake tana mural
One of the many fabulous full wall sized murals in one of the Lake Tana monasteries, this one I believe from Ura Kidane Mihret.  I love the angels with afros!

Tis abay
The Tis Abay waterfall, not far downstream from the source of the White Nile River.

Debre birhan selassie

debre birhan selassie
The celebrated ceiling frescoes in the Debre Birhan Selassie church in Gondar

Fasil Ghebbi
Fasil ghebbi
Two of the many castle ruins in the Fasil Ghebbi fortress in Gondar.

gondar cabaret
Minstrels belt out folk songs (a lot better than the mindnumbing Ethiopian pop song drivel that the bus radios blast into your head a thousand times over) for tips in a traditional Ethiopian cabaret.

millenium boy
I hung around in Ethiopia just long enough to experience the first day of the 3rd millenium, year 2000 on the Ethiopian calendar (which is unique like most aspects of Ethiopian culture).  The festivities in Gondar weren't all that thrilling, consisting mainly of drunk adolescents running around town in packs blowing fireworks off of a metal pan that they hold on top of their heads, but this Millenium Boy doesn't seem to mind.