Purposeful, African travel for nature enthusiasts
A rugged, landlocked country at the horn of Africa, Ethiopia is traditionally known for its archaeological history, religious sights and wildlife. Few experience its enchanting forest reserves and the authentic conservation methods based on indigenous knowledge that thrive beyond the top listed destinations. Visiting Ethiopia with local nature and community NGO, MELCA, will bring you to experience a sense of place and encounter a deep-seated respect for nature.
Traditional conservation methods can remove people from place to promote instead rigid conservation and control. An immersive learning journey through local forest reserves will challenge this conception to reveal how being truly grounded in nature and culture can create both resilient communities and flourishing ecosystems.
MELCA cultivates balance between healthy ecosystems and vibrant cultures in small communities of Ethiopia by developing innovative conservation methods based on local knowledge systems. Their work focuses strongly on the younger generations to make them the guardians of their forests and cultural traditions.
The journey starts in the capital of Addis Ababa from where you’ll head southeast to the Bale Mountains. Join the elders on a three-day trail into the forest and be inspired by their age-old indigenous knowledge. Encounter the intricate connections between traditional cultures and nature and see how the one needs the other to survive. A one-day trip to visit the renowned Bale Mountains National Park on the Sanetie Plateau gives you the chance to experience the landscapes of the Ethiopian wolf (red fox) endemic to Ethiopia, as well as the mountain niyala.
A two-day transition further south lets you admire the Ethiopian countryside and appreciate the slow and intentional nature of travel in rural Africa. In Sheka and Majang zones you’ll spend time in two biosphere reserves to learn about the traditional conservation practices of these communities and to compare these methods, based on specific contexts and handed down through generations, with conventional national park protection. One example is the Kobo system where each household is responsible for conserving a section of the forest whilst generating a livelihood from it. A strong focus on sustainable development in the area encourages practices that will let both communities, and nature, thrive for future generations.
Travel back to Addis allows time for reflection before re-entering into a busy city atmosphere and ultimately back home.
This immersive learning journey has a strong educational focus, but deliberately breaks away from the traditional classroom. Learning is hands-on and it’s about discovering not only a different country and different ways of knowing, but also a different side of yourself. Engaging debates stem from both academic and non-academic readings. Dynamic conversations and hand-written realisations are made while camping in the wilderness or driving on dusty roads.
Intergenerational learning encourages young to learn from old, old to learn from young, and visitors to learn from locals. There is no single, authoritative teacher. The arguments found in the readings are brought to life on the ground and could either emphasise or contradict what is really going on. Throughout, you are encouraged to journal your personal experience and transformation.
A lived experience for the curious traveller
This experience is for those who like travelling to areas beyond the beaten track and connect authentic experiences with global thinking and research. It’s a lived experience. It challenges travellers to embrace the local context and become part of the everyday life. Travelling like this is about delving into a place and truly spending time there. Travelling like this is slow, local, and mindful.