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Eastern Ethiopia supports one of the world’s oldest Islamic cultures, founded during the lifetime of Mohammed alongside the preexisting Christian empire of the central and northern highlands. The main focal point of the region is the atmospheric walled city of Harar, fourth holiest city of Islam, former stomping ground of the explorer Richard Burton and poet Arthur Rimbaud and birthplace of Haile Selassie. Several historic landmarks are dotted around the old city, but none is quite so impressive as the legendary "hyena men" who feed wild hyenas by hand on the outskirts of town every evening. En route to Harar by road, it is well worth ...

Eastern Ethiopia supports one of the world’s oldest Islamic cultures, founded during the lifetime of Mohammed alongside the preexisting Christian empire of the central and northern highlands. The main focal point of the region is the atmospheric walled city of Harar, fourth holiest city of Islam, former stomping ground of the explorer Richard Burton and poet Arthur Rimbaud and birthplace of Haile Selassie. Several historic landmarks are dotted around the old city, but none is quite so impressive as the legendary "hyena men" who feed wild hyenas by hand on the outskirts of town every evening. En route to Harar by road, it is well worth stopping at Awash National Park, which supports small populations of hamadryas baboon, the handsome oryx antelope, and a dazzling selection of perching birds. Awash is named for the eponymous river, which runs through the Great Rift Valley as it bisects Ethiopia from north to south, feeding a string of lakes near the border with Djibouti. Northeast of this, the rift dips below sea level to form the Danakil Depression, a devastatingly barren desert region officially ranked as the hottest place on earth and pockmarked with active volcanoes, multihued fields of sulphuric hot springs and salt pans. En route to Danakil, the Yangudi Rassa National Park supports the last surviving population of African wild ass, the progenitor of the domestic donkey.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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