We’re only posting the top 5 things to do in Harar because, well, there aren’t many more things to do. Here it goes:
1. Feed the hyenas.
The so-called ‘Hyena Man’ calls the hyenas just outside the walls of the city at dusk. It is worth the trip just to hear him call the creatures. He yells the hyena’s names (yes, he has given them names) at the top of his lungs, in Amharic, “Tiny, Tiny, won’t you come here, Tiny?” Finally, ‘Tiny’ shows up, and is a large, skittish hyena with a fat, round belly. Clearly, she comes for the feeding every single night. For 50 birr per person (about $2.60), you can feed the hyenas some raw meat using a stick – which, in my opinion, should be a longer stick, considering the strength of the hyena’s jaw. They can crunch through bones with that jaw! Hyena Man may even encourage you to place the stick in your mouth, and let the monstrous ‘Tiny’ eat from there.
Admittedly, this isn’t much of a ‘tour,’ per se, but you can walk into a tiny building to see and smell where the world-renowned Harar coffee is roasted, ground, and packaged, all while wondering if the employees wash their hands. You know you’re close to the factory when you see a big mosque and the smell of the coffee overwhelms all other senses.
Avoid the hawks.
For 10 birr (.50 cents), one of the camel meat vendors will let you feed scraps to the hawks, who are patiently waiting for any opportunity. I’m not sure if hawks can see color, but they sure seem to perk up when the foolish ferenji (foreigners) show up. Their eyesight and accuracy is truly amazing – just missing people’s head by a few centimeters as they swoop down aggressively towards their small chunk of camel meat.
4. Forgive someone in the Street of Reconciliation. Although all the streets of Harar are narrow, this one beats them all. It is so narrow that if you try to pass someone you are quarreling with, you can’t do it without reconciling your differences.
5. Get busy in a traditional Adare house.
There are still many traditional-style decorated houses within the walls of the city. The main rooms have plenty of seating (on the floor) so visitors can lounge and chew chat, a stimulant that comes in the form of fresh, foul-tasting leaves. The walls are jam-packed with colorful bowls, baskets, and other useful kitchenware. Just off the main room lies the ‘honeymoon room,’ a tiny, dark space…wonder what they do there?