March 11, 2015
About two weeks ago I started working on a project with a community-based ecotourism program that does trekking in the Bale Mountains right outside my town and a town 25 km down the road, Dodola. I was approached by a guide, Bayu, that works out of Adaba and wanted my help. After nine months of asking, asking, and asking what I could do for different offices, giving ideas of projects I could help with and hardly anything coming of it, it was so nice to be asked. Success here is mainly decided by one thing and that is community/partner investment and by being asked, I already knew I had that.
I was so excited. Work? Real work? What is this going to be like? Am I going to be okay without my two-hour afternoon nap everyday? Oh, who cares, cause I get do something. I’m going to be useful! Yes, yes, yes. Even though there were a couple false starts in planning our first trip, it happened! And not only now do I have work, I have work where I have to go backpacking/hiking into the hills, check out some campsites, and enjoy. Not such a bad deal.
Our first outing was a three-day trek to two of the four campsites set up in the Adaba district. Hiking was mostly along dirt roads, through a mix of Juniper forests, wheat fields, and rural homes. There were always people walking with their donkey’s back piled high with food from the market or teenagers headed to/from school with notebooks tucked under their arms.
The first was a tent campsite in Harawa. The tents are canvas, set up all year round, and furnished with bedframes, chairs, and a table. Mattresses, sheets, and blankets were also provided. Not too shabby. The view wasn't bad either.
Here there is a hut with bunk beds and a common room for tourists to use. In bathroom even had a western toilet. There was no seat and it definitely didn’t flush, but still there. And how did they get it all the way up there anyway? Not even a horse cart could make it all the way up to this campsite. On a donkey’s back? Most likely.
The third day, we made the short, but steep hike to the top of the mountain and wandered around the rocky top. In several spots we saw areas that had been and were burning to clear land for cattle grazing.
Finally, we started down the mountain on the long walk back to Adaba. I didn’t realize how far it was back and after 30 km I basically crawled into my compound and went straight to bed.
While on this hike, I worked with Bayu and the campsite keepers to do some assessments of the area and facilities. The next week we went on a day hike to another tent campsite in the Adaba district and will hopefully get to the last one in the next couple of weeks. Here a few more pictures from the three-day trek.