|We will continue our drive to Axum through beautiful countryside via the Tekeze River. This is a long day of driving but through stunning scenery (285km - up to 10 hours). Overnight at Yared Zema Hotel or similar.
The northern town of Axum is reputed to have been the capital of the legendary Queen of Sheba, in the 10th century BC. Once a great city and the capital of a powerful empire around the time of the birth of Christ, it is thought by some to be one of the great civilisations of antiquity, controlling the all- important trade routes between Asia and Africa for many centuries. Today it is a site of pilgrimage, containing many important religious buildings as well as palaces and tombs belonging to past Emperors of Ethiopia. The most notable of these is the church of St Mary of Tsion, which is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant and is watched over by a guardian who prevents anyone from seeing it. According to legend, the ark was brought here by Emperor Menelik, son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Axum is also famous for its collection of stelae, sculpted from single pieces of granite and intricately carved. Although some are in ruins, those that remain are the legacy of one of Africa’s most powerful civilisations
Visit the amazing sites of Axum, including its collection of ancient stelae, the bath and the palace of the Queen of Sheba and St Mary of Tsion Church, which legend says is where the Ark of the Covenant is located.
All the north of Ethiopia is orthodox Christian and following the old and new testaments and therefore some Jewish and Coptic beliefs
Axum is considered a most holy Christian place and no mosque has been allowed to be built in the town. The 5% of Moslems have to go 10kms for their nearest.
The long drive was extremely scenic with monolithic mountains being the remains of volcanos worn away by erosion
On the way we stopped at Yeha as described above. The stonework was remarkable some slabs over 2mts in length yet forming perfect 90 degree corners. The 'museum' was a dusty small room with a few artifacts found in the area and several ancient books of religious scripts which they readily handle with dirty hands and use frequently for worship.
After another long coffee break we continued on our way visiting a local house on the way. In this area they cover the roofs with wood and grass and we walked across this to go down a track and visit the house below. It had a courtyard with the ox and rooms off. A primitive kitchen using methods unchanged in centuries and a dark bedroom backing into the Hill with small bed for husband and wife.
They sat down to show us how they eat. The dough of wheat is uncooked, rolled into small lumps, skewered onto twigs and dipped in the communal bowl of chilli sauce.
The last part of our ride followed a spectacular gorge with vast panoramas to our overnight accommodation at 250 Mt's.
The lodge we stayed at supported the local people providing them with training and opportunities to sell their crafts.