Gash Barka Must Be Your Next Trip!

………This is a continuation of the article posted a few days ago……..

Barentu introduced me to Ful Meselah, a dish of seasoned mashed fava beans borrowed from Arabic cuisine. Served for breakfast, it featured a medley of chopped onions, tomatoes, crushed peanuts, chili paste, and copious sesame oil, accompanied by crusty bread. The meal’s simplicity and quality resonated, as did the unique coffee infused with ginger, offering a distinctive twist on the highlands’ coffee experience.

The next spot we visited is a place that could be a fun exercise for people who are into rock climbing, as well as site seeing. Mount Elite is found in Bultubyay village, 12 km away from Haykota subzone. The mountain range is covered with evergreen indigenous trees and is inhabited by wild animals such as monkeys, leopards, gazelles, pythons, hyenas, hedgehogs, and different spices of birds. At the foot of the mountain, there are caves that are usually used as shelter by herdsmen during the rainy season. After hiking up for about 30 minutes, you find Degrelega, whose size is approximately 200m by 300m. And after hiking up for 20 minutes, you find Tingalaga, which is five or six times bigger than Degrelega.

There are many artifacts in Tingalaga, which are in good condition, that are worth visiting. They include ceramic household tools such as pots and grinders made of stone. The cave also contains more than 50 pits, which belonged to several families. When a member of a family died, the corpse was buried in the family’s own pit. There are stairs leading up to the pits. There are three mosques in the cave — Seid Bekri Merqani, Seid Jaeffer Merqani and Seid Hashem Merqani. People go to the mosques during religious festivals. Above the caves, you find spring water which is used on special occasions.

Also there is another mountain with great history, Mount Fodie. This mountain was used by the Kunama ethnic group as a shelter and hideout whenever a threatening enemy prevails. Many artifacts are present in the caves found on the mountain. Another aspect of the journey that is appealing to experience is the rich culture and tradition of the Kunama and the clans within this ethnic group.

When I state Gash Barka has everything for everyone, I am not exaggerating, and visiting the Ali Gende Dam proves that statement. This is the place to visit if you have the habit of fishing. This site is considered to have a great potential, in the near future, to be one of the main tourist attracting site in the region. It’s a naturally formed dam located in the Shambko subzone. If it’s a good raining season and the dam fills its capacity, several types of fishes emerge in the water. The locals have a window period of fishing which starts from October till January. Even though the dam is big, it doesn’t have water all year round hence there is a great amount of alluvial deposit. However, while drying up different kind of flowers and green grass grow in the mud, presenting a beautiful spring scene.

Our journey also led us to Tesseney, a vibrant town characterized by its energetic populace. A visit to Shuke al Shaebi – the local market – on a Saturday evening offered an authentic snapshot of local life. As the sun set, vendors continued to enthusiastically advertise their wares, ranging from fruits and vegetables to electronic gadgets, traditional clothes and beads and sweet confections. The market’s authenticity provided a captivating window into daily life.

The scene looks straight out of movies: hot weather changed into cool breath. During the evening some soccer fans watching a premier league match screaming with every goal, some elderly drinking coffee in small groups joking with each other, and a group of birds dancing in the clear sky. It is a view that everyone should be able to witness.

In retrospect, Gash Barka exceeded my expectations, merging work and exploration into a rewarding adventure. Through culinary revelations, encounters with nature, and glimpses into local life, this journey offered a fresh perspective on the world and the people who inhabit it.

Written by Milka Teklom

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