Spending all week commuting to work in crowded and smoggy Addis has most of us interns craving fresh air on the weekends. We were thinking about going to Wenchi Crater, but that is too far to be a day trip and there’s something to be said for sleeping in your “own” bed. As a compromise, we planned to go on a day hike to Menagesha National Forest, which is only about an hour and a half drive from Addis.
Even though it is so close, our driver had never heard of it (though there’s a pretty good chance we were pronouncing it wrong OR that our description wasn’t adequate.) Nonetheless, our driver Solomon is awesome and got us there no problem. Even though we told him he didn’t have to, he waited for us at the park HQ, sitting in the shade on camping chair reading the Bible. He was a welcome sight after a long, sweaty and occasionally muddy hike. (Solomon is also the morning driver for half of the interns, though not for me.)
Menagesha was EXACTLY the kind of retreat from Addis we needed, especially after a wild night out for some of our little group. (I stayed at home, still trying to kick the cold that plagued me in Awash.)
Compare this scenery to the pictures from last post about Awash National Park…two completely different landscapes! (A forest like this was a sight for sore eyes.) If Tigray reminded me of Arizona, this seemed more Pacific Northwest to me: very green and wet and cool, like the temperate rain forests on the Pacific coast in the US. I don’t think there’s anything quite like Awash in the US.
Menagesha is actually the oldest protected area / National Forest in Africa. As a well established National Park dork, I was very excited to get a chance to visit. It has been protected since the 1600s, when it was the personal royal forest of an Ethiopian emporor.
Can you tell which one of us had a late night?
The park only cost 50 birr to get in (so, about $2.50) and was absolutely stunning. In addition to the billions of ants, we saw more baboons (ugh) and what we termed “skunk monkeys”. They were too far away to get a proper picture, but they were black and white (but I’m sure you guessed that) and jumped from tree to tree, missing their target quite a bit and falling through the branches.
We got back in the van muddy and exhausted, and it was so nice to come home to a hot shower. A day full of fresh air is worth any amount of mud in my book!