Category Archives: Wondo Genet

Ethiopia: Facts from my notebook

1. There are 57 types of acacia trees in Ethiopia. 7 are endemic.

I never tire of the acacia tree (hello blog header) – here is one in Wondo Genet

2. There are over 6000 types of plants in Ethiopia. About 600 are endemic.

Chat isn’t endemic to Ethiopia – but it’s everywhere in the Sidama region. After having watched the spectacular documentary, Black Gold, I understand why more and more coffee growers are adding chat to their cash crop efforts. In about every plot chat was mixed with coffee trees.

My Wondo Genet guide explained that these young men were herding animals and chewing chat. (It was obvious, but he was doing a good job of guiding).

And then they shared a bit of their ‘narcotic’ with me. I was unimpressed (meaning, I didn’t feel a thing – but I did hike an hour longer than I planned). 


Dereje, my guide (in blue t-shirt) was a very motivated young man. He had spent a year following tourists and to improve his English and to learn birding. He could bird by ear and by sight – no binoculars, no bird book. I can’t bird by ear to save my life. I really admired his effort. He was a terrific guide – gentle, kind, attentive (we didn’t have to cross any rivers, so I can’t comment on his strength), and hopeful about his future. He plans to continue improving his guiding skills. I admired how he walked the entire day in flip flops. He then carefully washed his feet in the hot and holy spring. Had I had a bit more time, and been a bit deeper into my ‘experience’, I would have joined the local people in the hot spring (if invited). I can imagine their reaction to my large, soft body. Their giggle over my gear was funny enough, but a hot and holy spring would have been just totally divine. I hope Dereje accomplishes his goals – and I look forward to meeting him again in the beautiful Wondo Genet! You bet I plan to go back and walk with him another time – this walk will include a hot and holy dip in the spring (I didn’t take pictures of the spring, there were many people in it and they declined my request to take pictures there – I respected that entirely and without hesitation).

3. 55 years ago over 43% of Ethiopia was forested. Now, only 3% of Ethiopia is forested.

Lake Langano was particularly dry and deforested – some of that is about the shifting ecosystem as you drive south, some of it is about land use/population/resource depletion in the areas just outside of Addis. (That, and an enormous number of flower plantations that are surely poisoning the groundwater and devastating the soil in the area).

A view from a Bohe tukul. You can see the farms everywhere.


Wondo Genet Wood Carrier