Equus Ethiopia trail blazed the first edition of the 300Km Zara Jacob Trail last week. It runs from the forest of Wof Washa (near Debre Birhan, on the Eastern Escarpment) and the Ankober Palace Lodge to Menagesha Suba (a forest just 30 kilometres to the west of Addis Ababa). You can read posts about the trail here and here and read an article in Fortune newspaper about it here.
In my first post back from the trail I quoted one of Napier’s soldiers:
“They tell us this is highland country, a table mountain. Well, if it is a table mountain, I would like you to know that it is a table turned upside down. Once you have scaled one leg, you come down the other side. Then you start again, and again. And it is a table with many legs.”
And continued to say that “Ato Fitsum and Mr. Stranger saw much as they ascended and climbed down many a leg of the table mountain.” Well, here are some first pictures of the Zara Yacob’s first leg:
These two forests share important historic roots. The 15th century Ethiopian Emperor Zara Yacob – his name means ‘Seed of Yacob!’ – not only forbid all further logging of trees in Menagesha, he also ordered seedlings to be taken from the healthy forest of Wof Washa to be transplanted in the forests of Mount Wuchacha – that is to say in Menagesha Suba.
When Emperor Zara Yacob first passed his edict five hundred years ago, protecting the forest of Menagesha Suba and carrying seeds from Wof Washa, he in fact planted two types of seed. The ones that give the beautiful trees we can still witness in these forests, and a second one, that that takes even more time to mature than a slow growing giant Juniper: the seed of the idea that forests need to be protected and nurtured.
The Zara Yacob Trail would like to nurture the grain planted by the Emperor five centuries ago – and help the grain planted by the ‘Seed of Yacob’ grow ever more vigorously.