Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

Gherhalta Valley – Jan 3rd


We ate half of our watermelon this morning. Although it wasn’t the sweetest watermelon, I sure loved eating it.

The fog floating in the bottom of the valley today was so beautiful. Our drive today was through the Adwa Mountains.

I loved the views of the various rock formations along the way.

We saw a man was plowing his land.

We drove to the ancient ruins of Yeha Temple. It is a well-preserved stone temple that stands 12m high and has up to 52 layers of masonry which have been dated back to about seven or eight hundred years before the birth of Christ. The temple is believed to be the oldest standing structure in Ethiopia. Legend says it was from the 10th century BC and that information is apparently is supported by local inscriptions.  Other archeologists say it carbon dates back to the 7th century BC. The ruins of the temple consist of a single rectangular roofless chamber which stands around twelve meters in height.

It was considered to be the God of Moon and Sun temple.

Yeha temple was dedicated to be used as a church perhaps as early as the 6th century. There were 3 separate areas in the back of the temple. We were told that the one on the right was for purification.

The middle one was for sacrificing the Walla Ibex,

The one on the left was for innocence.

There were some men praying inside the temple.

Yeha Temple was built from limestone that was quarried from about 90 miles away.. There is no motor between the stones. It is believed that it was also used as a political and religious center.

The guide pointed out some blocks of limestone that were over 3 meters long.

Besides this remarkable temple is a church that was dedicated to Abba Aftse, one of the famous nine saints who came to Ethiopia in the 6th century from the east Roman Empire to teach the Gospel. I think I heard the guide say that some of the stone from the temple was used to build the church. We could see a cross which was cut into the stone in the wall of church.


Next we visited the Palace of D’amat Kingdom which was built in the 8th century BC. It was discovered in 1906. They are restoring the palace. You can see the original stone walls …

and the stones that are being used to restore it.

I read that Da’amat (980 – 400 BC) is believed to have been the first Kingdom in Ethiopia. It is believed that this area is the birthplace of the human civilization. The oldest human skulls, two adults and one child’s were discovered in Herto, Ethiopia in 1997. They were dated to be 160,000 years old.

This cliff-chat that was perched on a rod in the palace.

In the museum a priest shoes us an ancient book written in Ge’ez.

He actually read to us from this book.

Then he showed us a Book of Mary with illustrations.   The book was 300 years old; was made of goat skin; and the paintings were from naturally died colors. Some of those colors cannot be reproduced today.

He also showed us some artifacts. One of them was an incense burner..  A man from the Netherlands told me that this was an excellent example of the sun and half-moon.

This young girl ground the coffee beans that was used to make the coffee that Leigh had.

We continued to drive through the mountains on more hairpin turns.  We drove up, and then down, and then up again.  Here are some of the turns from above. At least these roads were paved.

I just couldn’t get enough of the rock formations along the way.

We had lunch in Adigrat. The spaghetti and meat was pretty good and the bread was the best we have had so far. What was unusual about the bread was the sauce served with it. Sue was the only one to taste the sauce and she said that it was very, very spicy;.

There was an unusually tall building in Adigrat.

This building was just one of many, many partially completed new buildings in Ethiopia. Apparently these partially completed buildings are  because the owners ran out of money and sold the building unfinished but the new owners also have no money to complete them.

We passed typical Tigray houses, which are made of stone and have a soil roof. That is because they do not have wood or grass available.  This is the roof of one house.

The soil in the area is not good for growing because it is so rocky. They have to use artificial fertilizers.

The houses in this area are spread much further apart.

We thought that this particular house was wonderful.

The circles on the side of this house are actually dung put there for drying it.

There is a dome on top of the house with a tarp over it. Ayu said it was likely chickpeas being stored.

The Gherhalta Lodge where we stopped for the night is quite beautiful.

There was a small garden with calla lilies.

It was very pleasant relaxing in the lobby.

The lodge also had an outside lounging area.

Sue, Jane, and I took a walk up into the hills. We saw several jackrabbits running around but they were too fast to photograph..

I love the rock formations..

We could see and example of the soil roof better from the top.

These prickly plants were beautiful.

We climbed up some stone steps to get to the top.

What beautiful trunk formations on the sycamore trees.

We looked down on the stone wall below us.

These were pretty cool cacti.

I spent some time talking to a woman who was bird watching.  We were watching for green pigeons in the fig tree but she said they were really hard to see.  Then this animal appeared on the branch.  It looked like a pica but I don’t think pica climb into trees.

I was going to watch the sunset from the top but decided to walk down before it got dark. So I took a few more photos of the lodge buildings ….

Then I headed down to take photos of the sunset.  I met Sue right outside of our room and we both took photos.

I sat in the lodge talking to people from England, Poland, Italy, and Australia.  It is fun to meet people from so many places.

Dinner was wonderful because this Italian owned lodge had wonderful salad which we were able to eat because they assured us that everything had been washed in pure water. Eating fresh tomatoes was such a fantastic treat.  I ate two plates of salad with my dinner.

We are thoroughly enjoying Ethiopia.

Author: Nancy Panitch

Traveling has been a passion of Nancy Panitch's life and she loves seeing how people in other cultures live. Her travels have taken her to many places within the United States, Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. Being around people inspires her and she has much gratitude for the kindred Souls that are joining together with her in body, mind, and heart. She moved from Chicago to Portland, Oregon in 1982. It was one of the best decisions of her life. While in Portland she stays very, VERY busy. She volunteers (Inter-Religious Action Network, Human Rights Council, & ushering for various theaters); attends a Unitarian Universalist church; goes hiking with groups (Cascade Prime Timers & Trails Club of Oregon) and also with individual friends. Book groups, movie group, and bridge groups occupy her time as well. Her quiet activities include yoga, knitting, Sudoku, and reading. She enjoys all of these activities, but making time to see her wonderful 4 grandchildren takes priority over it all. She is happy to share this blog and hopes to encourage others to travel.

3 thoughts on “Gherhalta Valley – Jan 3rd

  1. What wonderful photos and descriptions. It makes your trip so real for readers. I love the details.


  2. The lodge looks so part of the landscape and comfortable. Sycamore trees must be quite old.


  3. Loved these photos!


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