Ethiopia (January 2017): Across northeastern Oromia, from Sheikh Hussein to Harar
4. Days 10 to 13: Daffe (WP48) to Harar


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- Between Sheikh Hussein and Harar.

- Between Daffe and WP 78 (end of trek).

Click here (.kmz file) to access the waypoints and the paths in Google Earth.



January 20: Daffe (WP 48) to Goto (WP 61, elevation: 860m)


We left Daffe early enough in the morning to avoid any big crowd. We hiked on the plateau for half of the day before descending into another beautiful canyon (Sakata river) where we established our camp.


View over the flat plateau soon after leaving Daffe.



The tallest features were acacia trees.


Tree with many bird nests.


Farm with field of chat.


Other farms along the way.



Later the terrain became stony, with herds of camels, instead of farms.





Camels love cactus pads. Fortunately, there are plenty of these plants around.


Camp of nomad herders.


Trees with strangely shaped branches making many 90dg twists.



Rare flowers in this dry, unhospitable landscape.


Beginning of our descent into the canyon of the Sakata river.


View from midway down into the canyon toward the merging of the Sakata (front) and Ramis (left) rivers into the Goto river (right), a tributary of the Wadi Shebelle.


Steep section for our donkey during the descent.


Shelters of local herders.


Reaching the valley of the Sakata river dominated by high cliffs.





The almost clear water of the Sakata river was the best we had seen since the start of the trek!


Our donkey taking a dust bath after being unloaded.


The valley is populated by a small number of Oromo people who live from agriculture (maize) and breeding (cows and camels). Despite the relative abundance of water I did not see any crop of chat. Initially these people were suspicious and not very welcoming. However, they quickly realized that they had nothing to fear from us and became quite friendly. They offered us camel milk and stayed near our camp for a long time chatting with Numan and Mahmood.


Maize fields in the valley.


Cattle and camels.


Waterfall located less than a kilometer from our camp.


Man, woman, and children at our campsite.



Numan, Mahmood and Gebru preparing dinner at our campsite.



Our campsite was located on the right bank of the Sakata river, near the place where the Sakata and Ramis river merge to form the Goto river (see map at the top of this page). The entire area around this junction is called Goto by the locals. The Goto river flows into Wadi Shebelle where Wadi Shebelle makes a 90dg turn toward the southeast (and Somalia). Except for the village of Furdo (January 17), I usually found the canyons more interesting and more welcoming than the surrounding plateaus. In retrospect (looking at the Google Earth images), I think that a better itinerary for the trek would have been to follow the Wadi Shebelle from WP 4 (our camp on January 13) down to its intersection with the Goto river and then the Goto and Ramis rivers upstream. Following the Ramis river upstream might have allowed us to end the trek much closer to the town of Bedeno than we did. Despite their low elevation (between 800 and 900m) and relative abundance of water, the canyons were free of mosquitoes during our trip.


January 21: Goto (WP 61) to Copimiawa (WP 76, elevation: 1400m)


Marabout stork venturing near our camp in the morning.



Lower part of the Sakata valley before it merges with the Ramis river..



Gebru crossing the Goto river (WP 62).


Views of the Goto river (left: downstream, right: upstream).


Immediately after crossing the Goto river, we started climbing to reach the next plateau.


Herder camp at the beginning of the ascent.




View over the intersection of the valleys of the three rivers: Goto (left), Sakata (center back), and Ramis (right).


As we reached the plateau, the terrain became more stony.




Woman returning to Goto from a nearby village. She looked a bit scared when she saw me.



Another camp of herders on the plateau.


In the small village of Tuluqi.


The mosque of Tuluqi and its unpretentious minaret.


Between Tuluqi and Copimiawa, the terrain was dry, flat, and rather uninteresting. The main plants along the way were thorny shrubs.


We arrived in the nondescript village of Copimiawa late in the afternoon. We set up our camp 300m outside the village. Very soon the entire population came and surrounded us. Someone (probably the head of the village) asked for our permits. We also gave him the phone number of the zone commander, whom he called. Everything sounded fine, but this person did not tell us that he had nevertheless contacted the police stationed in another village 20 to 30km away. A police truck came to our camp around midnight. Fortunately, the policemen had been informed of our presence in the area by the zone commander. They looked at our papers, verified that our names were those given by the commander, and left. In Addis Ababa, after our unpleasant experience of Day 4, Solomon had made a fantastic job to make sure that all the zone commanders along our path had been ordered to let us go on with our journey.


January 22: Copimiawa (WP 76) to Burka

The region after leaving Copimiawa was more densely populated than anywhere before during this trek. We followed a dust road and passed by several small villages. Noisy groups of people were following us (actually, I should say me) from villages to villages. We eventually reached a slightly more important gravel road leading to the town of Burka some 30km to the northeast. I decided to end the trek there and wait for some transportation to reach Burka. We sold our donkey to a local man (for only 1,000 Ethiopian Birrs, less than a third of the price we had paid for it, but we were not in a good bargaining position). Late in the afternoon, we saw the first vehicle, a water tank truck. It picked us up and drove us to Burka.


Scenery at the place where we ended trekking.



Man with an awesome beard at this location.


The region was experiencing a severe drought and the water tanker truck was distributing water along the road from Burka to a village 60km further south. Each day this truck leaves Burka with a full tank. On one day the water is distributed on the first half of the road starting from Burka; on the next day, the truck drives first to the end of the road and the water is distributed on the way back along the second half of the road. This afternoon the truck was returning from the end of the road and the distribution was not over yet.


To get water people cluster into small groups along the road with their jerricans. The truck stops at each one of these groups. A plastic sheet is laid down on the ground to avoid losing water during the distribution. The three people managing the distribution (including the truck driver and a soldier) were making sure that the distribution was fair and benefited every family. I was impressed by how well they were doing their work.


People in front of the truck rushing to form the next cluster.


Water distribution at one of the clusters.


We reached Burka, yet another shanty town, late at night. The truck left us at a hotel (a small building made of corrugated metallic sheets) that was also a restaurant, a kind of night-club, and a few other things. Despite the noise, I slept quite well.


January 23: Burka to Harar


View of the street in Burka from the hotel.


Around 8am we took a bus headed to Harar, which we reached at 4pm. Although there were at least three times more people in the bus than seats, we were all happy to reach Harar. Ironically, I, the faranji, was the only one in my group who had previously been in Harar.




Links to the various sections of the trip:



1. Days 1 to 3

2. Days 4 to 6

3. Days 7 to 9

4. Days 10 to 13

5. Harar

6. Addis Ababa and around









Return to main Ethiopia January 2017 webpage