Ethiopia - natalia stone

Ethiopia is raw, authentic and unforgettable. Each region is like stepping into a time capsule. Each village and town feel like a different world. Salt mines in the north are still excavated with primitive tools and transported by camel. The Southern tribes take pride in ritualistic scarification, lip plates and body war painting. Ethiopia is one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, in the first century AD. The numerous monasteries of Lalibela protect many of the ancient Christian texts.


Not the easiest place to travel. Rough conditions test you physically and mentally almost every single day. But if you stop resisting the discomfort, let your body acclimate and take it a day at a time, Ethiopia will open up, welcome you and show you some of it’s most precious treasures. This unique and incredible country and it’s people will also teach you to accept things how they are and embrace the present moment. After all, the present moment is the only thing we truly have right now. Live it to the fullest.

  • Caravan Train at Sunrise

    As the sun rises over lake Asale, the salt traders are nearing the end of their 3 day trek from the nearest town of Mekele. They will spend the next day excavating salt, cutting it up into bricks and loading the camels for the trip back. Each load a camel carries, earns around $10, barely enough for the miners to feed their families and survive in this barren land with little other resources. The entire region feels as if it is frozen in time, the local Afar people still live and work as they have been for centuries.

  • Danakil Desert is one of the hottest and cruelest places on earth with temperatures rarely falling below 40-60 C (104-140 F) during the day. Salt mining has been the livelihood of the Afar people for hundreds of years, and still continues to this day. Barren landscape, dust storms, unbearable heat and no water – hard to believe how anything can survive here. As the caravan neared, I heard the men yelling something and pointing at my water bottle, without hesitation I gave them all the water I had with me. The setting sun does little to relieve the heat and they still had at least an hour to the nearest village.

  • moonrise over erta ale

    Erta Ale which means 'Smoking Mountain' is one of only six lava lakes in the world. After a 9 hour drive from the closest village over lava fields, salt flats and sand, it is another 3 hours on foot in the dark until you finally reach the rim of the caldera. As you descend there is no trail, you have to watch every step when walking on freshly crusted lava that cracks under your feet, one false move and you can fall into an air pocket. The volcano is alive - you feel the heat, hear the roaring sounds, see the ash and sparks flying up in mini explosions - one of nature’s most mesmerizing and dangerous shows.

Lalibela

The legends of Lalibela state that angels and men built the churches together. To this day the exact details of their construction remain a mystery. Each one is hewn from solid rock top to bottom. Pictured above is the famous church of St George. It took us a while to find it - one can only see the top when up close, at first glance it's difficult to imagine the church is actually 50meters (150 feet) tall underground.

The legends of Lalibela state that angels and men built the churches together. To this day the exact details of their construction remain a mystery. Each one is hewn from solid rock top to bottom. Pictured above is the famous church of St George. It took us a while to find it - one can only see the top when up close, at first glance it's difficult to imagine the church is actually 50meters (150 feet) tall underground.

  • Ethiopian orthodox church is know for its many types of ceremonial crosses, each one, uniquely made and decorated is considered sacred. As worshipers come into a church, a priest touches them with the cross to bless and heal any ailments.
  • Lalibela, the center of Ethiopian Christianity, is famous for its monolithic churches built underground and undetected by enemies for hundreds of years so they still survive to this day in their original state. All the churches are active and priests still use century old books to pray, with the only source of light shining though small windows cut in the massive walls.

Lalibela, the center of Ethiopian Christianity, is famous for its monolithic churches built underground and undetected by enemies for hundreds of years Most survive to this day in their original state. All the churches are active and priests still use century old books for prayer with the only source of light shining though small windows cut in the massive walls.

Every Sunday all the villagers around Lalibela gathers near the ancient churches for the weekly mass. A truly fascinating sight as hundreds of people adorned in yellow and while cloaks are chanting or standing still in a moment of prayer, completely ignoring the outside world and just being present

Tribes of the Omo Valley

  • Dassanech woman
  • Mursi is one of the 20 tribes living in Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia. Cattle is the main way of life for the people of this region. Not only essential for survival, the number of cattle determines the wealth and status of a village. Almost every adult tribe member whether male or female carries a gun. Cattle stealing, clashes over grazing land and water access disputes are quite common in the area. Ethiopian government does little to interfere and lets the tribes be and sort our their problems on their own.

Dassanech people live near the border of kenya by the shores of lake Turkana. One of the most interesting tribes to photograph it is not so easy to get to. After a 3 hr drive through dusty roads we had to cross the river full of crocodiles on dugout tribal canoes. What sounds like a dangerous place to live, actually helps the tribe survive. In times when cattle is lost to disease, local men hunt crocodiles, even a small one is enough to feed a family for days.

Mursi is one of the 20 tribes living in Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia. Cattle is the main way of life for the people of this region. Not only essential for survival, the number of cattle determines the wealth and status of a village. Almost every adult tribe member whether male or female carries a gun. Cattle stealing, clashes over grazing land and water access disputes are quite common in the area. Ethiopian government does little to interfere and lets the tribes be and sort our their problems on their own.

Karo men paint their bodies and faces with white chalk to look as fierce as possible. It's a daily routine that scares off enemies and also serves the purpose of making themselves more attractive to the opposite sex.

Karo men paint their bodies and faces with white chalk to look as fierce as possible. It's a daily routine that scares off enemies and also serves the purpose of making themselves more attractive to the opposite sex.

Hamar men pay a very special attention to face painting and hair. They use ostrich feathers as part of their hair dress which symbolizes hunting and the domain of nature. To protect the hairdo, men always carry a wooden headrests they use for pillows.

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