Lake Langano

travel theme: soft

Saturday, November 10: Ailsa’s Travel Theme for this week is Soft.  Here are a few soft things from Ethiopia.

a soft spider’s web from Lake Langano in Ethiopia

some soft and fluffy shore birds at Lake Langano, Ethiopia

The rising moon casts a soft glow over the marshland of Lake Langano in Ethiopia.

soft moonlight

And finally, a soft field of tef, the grain used to make injera, the spongy bread eaten as a staple in Ethiopia.  This field is in northern Ethiopia, near Lalibela.

a field of tef

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Categories: Africa, Ethiopia, Lake Langano, Lalibela, Soft, Travel Theme | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

weekly photo challenge: renewal

Friday, November 9: The theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Renewal.

Liturgy is like a strong tree whose beauty is derived from the continuous renewal of its leaves, but whose strength comes from the old trunk, with solid roots in the ground.  ~ Pope Paul VI

This priest in a church in Lalibela, Ethiopia is engrossed in spiritual renewal…

Education involves a continual renewal of the mind.  These three Ethiopian girls are on their way to school.

renewal of the mind: going to school

Renewal can also be just relaxing with friends and playing a game, even if the game involves using bottle caps for checkers.

checkers with bottle caps. Games can renew the soul….. Lake Langano, Ethiopia.

Renewal. This word conjures a variety of images, from bright blossoms to meditating monks. When I think of “renewal,” I think of starting a new job, arriving in a new city that’s ripe for exploration, walking through a new apartment with white walls, and taking a hot shower after a challenging day.  I think of beginnings. Life. Opportunity. What images does Renewal conjure for you? Get creative. Think beyond the usual images (a sunrise, a birth). We want to see what else you can come up with.

Categories: Africa, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake Langano, Lalibela, Lalibela rock-hewn churches, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: | 17 Comments

travel theme: bright

Sunday, November 4: Ailsa’s Travel Theme for this week is Bright. She writes: So what bright delights have caught your eye?  Show me your brilliant brights. (Where’s my backpack? Travel Theme: Bright)

Here is a chanting church service at Bet Mikael, one of the churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia, with bright light shining over the believers.

Priests and boys chanting in Bet Mikael at Lalibela, Ethiopia. It’s almost as if the bright light is God beaming down on them….

There are beautiful bright paintings found in all the Lalibela rock-hewn churches.  These churches, built in the 11th century, are still used today.

a bright painting of the Virgin and child at the Lalibela churches

At the Saturday market in Lalibela, bright textiles are offered for sale.

the Saturday market at Lalibela, Ethiopia

And finally, at Lake Langano in southern Ethiopia, the evening twilight casts a bright light over the landscape of acacia trees.

the landscape of Lake Langano at twilight

Categories: Africa, Bet Mikael, Bishangari Lodge, Bright, Ethiopia, Lake Langano, Lalibela, Lalibela rock-hewn churches, Travel Theme | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

hobnobbing with the shorebirds at lake langano

Tuesday, October 30:  This morning, we pack up for our return trip to Addis Ababa.  We eat a breakfast of omelets: Ed has an Ethiopian Omelet with tomato, onion, & chili, and I have an Omelet a la Bishangari, with mango, pineapple, banana and sugar. I’m surprised it has more of a savory flavor than sweet.  We drink fresh papaya juice and coffee.  The tea and coffee set-up harkens back to British colonial days and adds a nostalgic ambiance to our morning.  It’s our last day here and I’m sad to leave.

We take a walk along the lake edge to check out the shorebirds.  The day is crisp and breezy; the clouds are in fine form in a hazy blue sky.  Ed is hesitant to cross outside of the fenced-in area of Bishangari Lodge, but I figure we went there last night and it was perfectly fine, so why not?  He’s afraid we’ll be harassed by the locals for money or handouts.  I’m not worried because I know how to say no and how to ignore people who harass me.  I’m determined to cross no matter what he decides to do.  In the end, he comes along.

speckled pigeon

speckled pigeon

acacia trees on the landscape near the lake

acacia trees on the landscape near the lake

marshland

marshland

Our adventurous foray is richly rewarded.  We see speckled pigeons, little egrets, white and gray pelicans, cormorants, and ducks.  They allow us to approach them without flying away.  We linger for a long time, creeping silently closer.  Finally, after most of them leisurely swim or fly away, showing no fear of us at all, we make our way back to the lodge.  We meet an olive baboon and stroll under more amazing ficus trees.  Then we head back on the road for our trip to Addis Ababa.

a flock of little egrets

a flock of little egrets

pumice-stone moonscape

pumice-stone moonscape

white & gray pelicans

white & gray pelicans

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

more white pelicans and cormorants

more white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans & cormorants

white pelicans & cormorants

looks to me like a pregnant pelican!

looks to me like a pregnant pelican!

pelicans afloat

pelicans afloat

cormorants

cormorants

the lakeshore

the lakeshore

me in front of a huge ficus tree

me in front of a huge ficus tree

olive baboons

olive baboon

pretty tree

pretty tree

tukul huts

tukul huts

local houses

local houses

scenery on the drive back to Addis

scenery on the drive back to Addis

fields

fields

In the evening, when we return to Addis Ababa, we eat a meal that Ed’s housekeeper/cook Kitay has prepared for us: injera, wat, cabbage & potatoes, lentils.  We top it off with some Montrouge Merlot.  Later, Ed shows me pictures on his computer, but when I want to show him pictures of my time in Greece, he’s not really interested.

As there is really nothing to do in the evening, he suggests we watch a movie.  Just as he’s about to put it on, he says he needs to make a business call to the U.S.  I wait.  And wait.  Finally I go upstairs to read, and hear him chatting away on Skype to his sons.  He is heading back to the U.S. on Saturday, and today is Tuesday, so I figure the conversation will be short.  It isn’t.  As a matter of fact, I give up and get in bed to read, telling him I’m no longer interested in watching the movie.  This is one time I wish I had the numbers of my colleagues so I could join them somewhere in Addis for some fun.

Categories: Acacia trees, Africa, bird-watching, Birds, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake eco-zone, Lake Langano, Pumice stone eco-zone | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

a hippo-spotting walk in the blue light… {…but where are the hippos?}

Monday, October 29:  This evening, we go with our guide on a hippo-spotting walk.  Sadly, we don’t see any hippos.  However, we do see a beautiful marshland, glowing acacia trees growing out of a pumice moonscape, and a simultaneous sunset and moonrise.  All this while we’re enveloped by beautiful blue light and a cool gentle breeze.

Click on any of the photos below to see a full-sized slide show.


Categories: Acacia trees, Africa, Ethiopia, Lake Langano | 3 Comments

massages & creature encounters at lake langano

Monday, October 29:  After our morning of birdwatching, we each have an hour-long massage in the massage hut. It’s wonderfully relaxing, except for the deep tissue kneading the masseuse does on my calves.  They feel bruised and beaten after all is said and done.

the massage hut at Bishangari Lodge

the massage hut at Bishangari Lodge

Behind this door lies a great massage!

Behind this door lies a great massage!

our masseuse doubles duty as a waitress

our masseuse doubles duty as a waitress

After our massages, we take another walk along the lakeshore, where we see a couple of scary-looking birds that appear to be right out of some prehistoric age.  They’re Abyssinian ground hornbills, and they don’t seem frightened of us at all.  They just strut their stuff confidently under the acacia trees and across the pumice rock.

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

While the strange black birds strut around like they own the land, a yellow-billed stork sits quietly on the lakeshore.

yellow-billed stork

yellow-billed stork

yellow-billed stork takes flight

yellow-billed stork takes flight

yellow-billed stork

yellow-billed stork

And we see a companionable little group of spur-winged plovers and Senegal thick-knees relaxing on the pumice stones.

spur-winged plovers and Senegal thick knees

spur-winged plovers and Senegal thick knees

grassy land beside the lake

grassy land beside the lake

As we stroll back through the forest toward our cabin, we hear leaves rustling overhead and find some elusive black & white Colobus monkeys darting about through the branches.  This one sits still just long enough for us to capture a blurry image of him on camera.

Colobus monkey in the forest

Colobus monkey in the forest

And later still, as I swing on the hammock by the lake, this black bird comes into the branches directly overhead.  I’m not sure what he is, but he’s possibly a Northern black flycatcher or a fork-tailed drongo.  I don’t know about the forked tail though, as his tail doesn’t look very forked to me.

Northern Black Flycatcher or fork-tailed drongo?  Not sure... :-)

Northern black flycatcher or fork-tailed drongo? Not sure… 🙂

Here at Lake Langano is the first time I have ever done any birdwatching, and I find it quite fascinating, especially as Ed knows his birds and has a book about birds of Ethiopia.  I love being out in nature at this place along Lake Langano.

Categories: Acacia trees, Africa, bird-watching, Ethiopia, Forest, Lake eco-zone, Lake Langano, Pumice stone eco-zone | 3 Comments

a dawn birdwatching expedition at lake langano

Monday, October 29:  This morning we wake up before dawn to go on a guided birdwatching stroll.  While waiting for our guide near the lodge dining area, a scaly francolin with bright orange webbed feet hops about on the ground and on the low branches of trees.  Wild horses graze near the lodge dining area.

a Scaly Francoline outdoors near the dining area

a scaly francolin outdoors near the dining area

wild horses graze near the dining area

wild horses graze near the dining area

another wild horse

another wild horse

Once our guide arrives, we spend two hours traipsing in the acacia zone by the lake and then through the forest.  We cross a big open field, and then wander along the fringes of the forest. Yellow-fronted parrots flit about in trees near the lake.

yellow-fronted parrots

yellow-fronted parrots

The bird of paradise alights only upon the hand that does not grasp. –John Berry

In the forest, we marvel at the huge gnarled ficus trees, and as we walk out into the open field, we come across a group of baboons romping around and grooming each other.  We nearly stumble into a hole dug by an aardvark, and up the trees, we spot three black & white Colobus monkeys watching us like spies from the treetops.

red shoes & wildflowers

red shoes & wildflowers

ficus tree in the forest

ficus tree in the forest

Olive baboons groom each other with care

Olive baboons groom each other with care

an aardvark hole

an aardvark hole

three black & white Colobus monkeys watch us from the treetops

three black & white Colobus monkeys watch us from the treetops

Lines of schoolchildren, books under their arms and dressed in colorful mismatched clothing, pass by us in the field on their way to school.  One elderly gentleman accompanies his children on horseback.

renewal of the mind: going to school

renewal of the mind: going to school

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an elderly gentleman accompanies his children to school on horseback

We find scores of different birds.  Most of them I’m not able to capture on film. Blue-breasted bee eaters flit about on some bushes. Greater blue-eared starlings hop about in the field.  A red-headed weaver industriously builds a nest.

blue-breasted bee eater

blue-breasted bee eater

blue-breasted bee eater

blue-breasted bee eater

blue breasted bee eater

blue breasted bee eater

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence – Robert Lynd

Greater blue-eared starling

Greater blue-eared starling

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. –Chinese Proverb

a red-headed weaver builds his nest

a red-headed weaver builds his nest

Later, as we have breakfast at the lodge, Ed identifies all the birds we saw on the walk: speckled pigeons, lemon doves, African paradise flycatchers, white-rumped babblers, Grey-headed bush shrikes, fork-tailed drongos, red-checked cordon bleu, white-throated seed eaters, African dusty flycatchers, Eurasian hoopoes, common red starts.  And many more elusive little birds with colorful names.

Categories: Africa, bird-watching, Birds, Ethiopia, Forest, Lake Langano | 3 Comments

fine feathered friends along lake langano’s shores {sunday}

Sunday, October 28: We spend some time walking along the lake shore where we spot birds of many feathers.  This is where I really discover either my camera’s or my own shortcomings.   My camera takes a lot of great photos, but it doesn’t do certain things well:  1) It doesn’t take good night shots; 2) it doesn’t take good macro pictures; and 3) it doesn’t take good pictures of small things at a distance, like birds.   The zoom lens basically sucks.  At some point, I will definitely need to buy a new zoom lens for my little Olympus PEN  EPL-1.  Either that or upgrade my camera completely.

a Great Cormorant

a Great Cormorant

Great cormorant takes flight

Great cormorant takes flight

Along the lake we wander. We admire the birds, we stare out over a horizon heavy with gray clouds, we listen to the choppy waves hit the shore.  We take pictures.  Ed, being a veteran bird-watcher, knows his birds and educates me as to what is what.  He points out a Great cormorant, a Senegal thick-knee and some spur-winged plovers.

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Senegal thick knee

spur-winged plover

spur-winged plover

spur winged plover

spur winged plover

spur-winged plovers

spur-winged plovers

the spur winged plover takes flight

the spur winged plover takes flight

After our afternoon of exploring the pumice stone area, the beach, and the lakeshore, we head to the Tree House bar where we share a bottle of Gonder Ethiopian red wine.  We toast to our safe arrival at the lake.  We eat a dinner of mushroom soup, black olive salad, pan-fried fish served with French fries, vegetables and pasta, and a crepe suzette for dessert.  Cicadas chirp in the background, a musical serenade.

Lake Langano

Lake Langano

another view of Lake Langano

another view of Lake Langano

acacia tree along the lakeshore

acacia tree along the lakeshore

 

Categories: Africa, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake eco-zone, Lake Langano | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

the beach at bishangari lodge

Sunday, October 28:  It’s a little too cool at Lake Langano for swimming, but that doesn’t stop us from swinging in the hammocks by the lake, listening to the waves roll into shore, and enjoying the chatters & chirps of the birds.

the beach at Bishangari Lodge

the beach at Bishangari Lodge

the sun loungers wait for the sunshine

the sun loungers wait for the sunshine

sticks tied together to make primitive boats

sticks tied together to make primitive boats

loungers and hammocks ~ everything for relaxation :-)

loungers and hammocks ~ everything for relaxation 🙂

groovin' on a Sunday afternoon...

groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon…

chairs near the beach for lake viewing

chairs near the beach for lake viewing

Ed in his hammock :-)

Ed in his hammock 🙂

Monday is a sunnier day at the Langano Lake beach

Monday is a sunnier day at the Langano Lake beach

...but there are no cushions on the loungers

…but there are no cushions on the loungers

the glittery beach

the glittery beach

Categories: Africa, Beach, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake Langano | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

the dry pumice stone eco-zone at lake langano

Sunday, October 28: One of Lake Langano‘s eco-zones is a dry pumice stone area on a piece of land that juts through the lake like a gnarly finger, separating the lake proper from a wetland area. On our first afternoon at the lodge, we take a walk through the area, encountering numerous birds and acacia trees. It feels a little like a walk on the moon, somewhat surreal but lovely .

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first encounter with the pumice stone

pumice under the clouds and an acacia tree

pumice under the clouds and an acacia tree

Pumice stone may have had a more important historical role in our lives than just scrubbing dead skin off feet.  Scientists claim the rock, which is produced as volcanic gases bubble through lava as it solidifies, may have been responsible for the birth of life on earth more than 3.5 billion years ago, according to a 2011 article from The Telegraph: Humans may owe more than smooth feet to pumice, claim scientists.

a whole spread of pumice

a whole spread of pumice

I think it does look like some prehistoric landscape.

more pumice along the lake

more pumice along the lake, not unlike a moonscape

me in pumice land

me in pumice land

Palaeobiologists believe the essential cocktail of chemicals that make up all organisms on earth could have accumulated inside the pumice pores, while other chemicals commonly found within could have kick-started biological reactions under ultraviolet light.

Ed takes a seat on a pumice chair

Ed takes a seat on a pumice chair

dramatic pumice landscape

dramatic pumice landscape

pumice meets lake

pumice meets lake

I’m amazed by this landscape, especially as the light wanes in the afternoon.  We walk along the rocky surface, checking out the birds preening and flitting about along the lakeshore:  pied kingfishers, spur-winged plovers, Senegal thick-knees, Great cormorants, Nyanza swifts.  I’ll feature some of our fine-feathered friends in another post.

and seen in a different light, as the sun goes down

and seen in a different light, as the sun goes down

The next two days, we explore the pumice-stone area a little more, marveling at how it appears in different light.

further down the finger peninsula, along the lakeshore

further down the finger peninsula, along the lakeshore

and shadowed by acacia trees

and shadowed by acacia trees

I love this stunning and peaceful place, where there are only a few quiet and relaxed inhabitants.  Namely us.  🙂

Categories: Africa, Ethiopia, Lake Langano, Pumice stone eco-zone | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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