Perched in the mountains above Lalibela is the small village of Ashetan. After visiting Yemrehanna Kristos, my Italian and I realized that we were quite taken with these mountain villages and opted to check this one out as well.
The trail up begins right in Lalibela and it is quite a hike, especially if you take the high mountain altitudes into account.
Starting out… That’s my Italian in the foreground:
Some of the villagers on their way down the mountain:
I was curious about the need for the rifle as this area didn’t come across as particularly dangerous to us:
Some of the sights on the way up the mountain:
It’s a long trek up, but I thought it to be well worth it when we suddenly emerged onto a plateau with the sheer cliffs of the mountain dropping away on all sides – it’s an amazing place. The plateau is three quarters of the way up the mountain and is where one finds the village of Ashetan:
A field on the plateau that drops down to the sheer cliffs:
A home on the edge of the plateau along the way into Ashetan:
These horses were the first residents of Ashetan to formally greet us:
The trail leading to “downtown” Ashetan:
Animal dung being dried in order to be used as fuel during the winter – just like in Afghanistan:
We passed through Ashetan and one of the villagers directed us to the trail to the mountaintop:
As in other Ethiopian mountain villages, the landscape is carefully contoured and terraced to take advantage of any rain:
The animals seemed to enjoy the mountainside above the village the best:
But there were some homes backed up right against the mountainside as well:
This one was right on the edge of a cliff…
But it had a great view down into Lalibela far, far below:
The trail threading its way along the cliffs to the top of the mountain:
Here’s a view of our destination taken from the trail:
The top of the mountain… There is a church up here, but the guard/caretaker wanted an astronomical fee to let us in. Having already been put off by the greed of the Church elsewhere in Ethiopia, we took a pass on this one and turned around and began our descent down the mountain.
I’m sure they were shocked that a “ferengi” (what Ethiopians call foreigners) would decline to play along in yet another transfer of resources to the Church, but if I can do my part to reverse the perception that decades of foreign aid, or just irresponsible tourists who should know better, have created that ferengis are good for only one thing, and that is handouts, then I shall do my best.
Having passed back through Ashetan and reached the edge of the plateau, I found these old boys perched on the edge of the precipice to be rather photogenic: