Exploring the Harar city in Ethiopia
The journey from the capital city of Ethiopia Addis Ababa to the Harar city is not an easy one so you should be ready for it. When you get to the airport you will need to get a tuk-tuk so that it takes you to the bus stop where you will ride for almost an hour before you get to the town.
Getting around the Harar city can be might be a little hard for you especially if you do not have a tour guide to help you get by and this is because the town is filled with numerous streets that are identical and you might get lost while traversing them. That is why it is advisable to have a tour guide as you visit the Harar city.
There are various accommodation facilities where you can stay while in Harar but since it has a lot of people in the city, you will need to book earlier on so that you do not have to end up with accommodation facilities that you think are not to your liking. The days that you need to spend in Harar city will highly depend on your budget and what you want to do but the standard days of exploring the city especially for those that have limited time is two days.
Therefore as you come to Harar city on your safari, make sure that you plan accordingly and you will be able to enjoy the following with your loved ones.
Explore the old city gates
The old city gates were discovered by the explore Burton who dressed up as a Muslim trader in order to penetrate the Harar city which was a Muslim state and this made him to be the first non-Muslim to enter into the city. The gates are so wide and ancient that you will not resist in taking photographs of the magnificent gates. There are six entrances to the gates and you can chose which one to use although the gate that is located in the Eastern side is extremely hard to access. Before you head out to the city gates, you should know that it is always chaotic due to the presence of many people that include the market people, traffic from cars, donkeys and tourists therefore you need to be careful with your property but despite the chaos it is one of the few places which are photogenic in the country.
Taste the Harar coffee
The Harar region in Ethiopia is commonly known for its production of the best coffee and you cannot visit the country without at least tasting the coffee that is grown and processed within the same country. You will be able to enjoy the coffee at the different restaurants in the Harar and you will also learn more about how coffee is grown and you will also get to experience the processing and grinding of the coffee. And as you enjoy your Harar coffee, you can also join the numerous people who visit the museum that is also located in the Harar and you can also buy a bag or two of coffee while there.
Visit the plethora religious buildings
The Harar city is UNESCO heritage due to the many buildings of worship that are found in the area and within close proximity of each other. The religious buildings that are found in the Harar include the following:
- The Orthodox Church which is located at the city square in Harar is another site that you will want to visit when you visit Harar. It is a magnificent church where you get to admire both the inside and outside and you will be amazed by how it was constructed and the design within.
- The St Mary’s Catholic Church, this was constructed by the early missionaries who came into the country and it is surrounded by missionaries. It was constructed using the ancient materials and this makes it an antique place to visit because of the unique material that was used. The French missionaries who live in this place will show around the church and explain all about its existence and history and it is located near the Jamia mosque.
- The main mosque which is known as the Jamia mosque was constructed in the 16th century and till today it is still standing. It is found near the Catholic Church and tourists only get to admire the mosque from the outside because they are not allowed to enter inside especially for those who are non-Muslims.
There are also more 81 mosques that are found in Harar and you get to visit all these when you get the time.
In the same area where the religious buildings are found, you will find shrines which are also used as worshiping centers. These are a bit hidden but with the help of a tour guide you will be able to find them easily.
Tate the local food in Harar
There are very many Muslims in Harar city and we all know that they prepare the best food with spices. As you listen to their dialect in Arabic, you can walk around the Harar while buying the different dishes that are sold. Their best dish that is prepared is the Fatira and this is a special which does not miss on any meal that is served. It is normally served with bread or tea and they are best served either on the road side or make shift rooms which act as restaurants. Visit the Harar and get to experience the food that you have and will never taste anywhere else in the world.
Explore the Arthur Rimbaud Museum
The Arthur Rimbaud Museum is filed with portraits of how the old Harar city used to look like during the old times even before the Italians came to stay in the country. They were painted by the French artist known as Arthur and the different portraits is what you should see when you visit because you look closely at them hanging inside the museum you will find that the Harar city has not changed in any way that is it still looks the same just like it appears in the portraits, you will also get to know the life of the artist who painted them and marvel at the black and white photo as you compare them to what you see.
Visit the markets that are found in Harar
Your trip to Harar will not be complete if you do not visit the chaotic markets that are scattered all over the place. These markets sell different things that is you need to visit the vegetable market, the smuggler’s market where hardware from china is sold, the spice market where you can buy all the different spices for food, the recycling market where various second hand products are sold and many more others.
These are always crowded and chaotic and you are advised to leave most of your valuables in your room to avoid pick pockets and you also need to move with your tour guide who will help you with translation and bargaining so that you get the best products from the markets.
Try out bird feeding
When we talk about bird feeding, we mean feeding of kites which is done at the meat market. The meat market is also referred to as the Girdir Magala and many tourists visit the area just to get a chance to feed the kites that frequent the place.
When you get to the meat market, ask your tour guide or locals about the best way to feed the kites as they are known to scratch sometimes as they swoop down to grab the food. But if you are not a fan, you can just sit back and enjoy watching others as they feed these prey birds.
There are also a few things that you need to carry as you plan for your trip to Harar and these include:
- A scarf, a scarf is extremely essential if you are travelling to the Harar city because it is a multi-task one. You can use it to cover your head as you head in for prayers, cover yourself during the cold evenings, and cover your head when it the winds blow and many others that you can think of.
- Toilet paper, since the city is predominantly filled with Muslims it is extremely impossible to find a place where they provide it due to the fact that Muslims do not use it but use water. Therefore you should carry your own and in plenty.
- A torch or lamp, Harar has a problem of power black outs and if you want to enjoy your evenings even when there is no power, you need to carry a torch or lamp.
- A camera and a map, these come in handy in a way that a camera helps you capture the memories and the map helps travel through the city even with a tour guide.