Harar, Ethiopia is ancient city that dates back to at least the 11th century AD. Historically, the city has long been famous for arts like weaving, basketry and bookbinding. It’s also famous for its delicious coffee, which is considered to be some of the best, if not the very best, in the world. Although there’s no hard proof, some believe that Harar is the birthplace of the energizing beverage, without which some of us simply could not function. Thank you, Harar!
Harar is considered to be the fourth holiest city in Islam, and the city’s walls enclose as many as 110 mosques, some of which are almost as old as the city itself. There’s a lot to see here, and the city’s inhabitants are generally friendly and welcoming to tourists.
One spectacle that you won’t see anywhere else is the practice of feeding raw meat to the clans of hyena that live in the surrounding forests. At dusk, “hyena men” feed the beasts in front of crowds of curious spectators, calling them out of the darkness and offering them strips of meat from his own mouth. This tradition may not be around forever, though; according to this BBC article, there were only two hyena men left in 2002.
In addition, a small herd of feral horses lives outside of the city walls, on flat-topped Mount Kondudo. This is the oldest known feral horse herd in Africa, and it is threatened with extinction as locals try to tame and sell the colts and take the grazing land for their own livestock. Conservation groups are trying to save the herd, and tourism is an important part of their plan for doing so since it provides locals an incentive to leave the horses alone.
There’s also a museum inside the city dedicated to French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who lived in Harar from 1884 until shortly before his death in 1891.
To visit Harar, you’ll need an Ethiopian visa. You can take your chances and try to get one on arrival, but the State Department warns against doing so because the visa on arrival process sometimes goes awry. Best to get one before you leave the US and save yourself the hassle!
For more details on getting your visa, see Ethiopian Visa Requirements for Tourists.
RushMyTravelVisa makes getting an Ethiopian visa easy and quick. Your visa specialist will walk you through the paperwork, and then we’ll expedite your application for the fastest possible processing.
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