Arrival into Harar in Ethiopia
To do the hyena feeding you’ll need to be in Harar, and as the feeding occurs at dusk (7pm ish – changes depending on the seasons), you’ll need to spend at least a night in the town of Harar. You have to be keen if you want to get there – it’s a long, scary and gruelling bus journey in a crampt and overcrowded mini-bus trust me!
From the capital city, minibuses run from Addis Ababa directly to Harar, but also to Dire Dawa with a connection to Harar. To organise the mini-bus your best bet is actually just talk to locals in the streets and in your hostel and they’ll sort you out. It really is that simple. I booked my mini-bus around 1pm in Addis Ababa and got on my minibus at 8.30pm. The minibus journeys can be long, gruelling and dangerous so be prepared for that. It will be worth it when you rock into Harar. My mini-bus took 15 hours in the end (a story for another post) and cost 300 Birr (which is about 16-17 $US Dollars).
The view over the old city of Harar – a great spot by day and the hyenas come out at night!
Walk to the hyena feeding in Harar – it’s the quickest way.
What price is it?
For me, and the other three guys that did it, it was 100 Birr each. That’s somewhere between $5 and $6 US Dollars. That’s totally worth it, believe me. In fact I’d say it’s a bargain as this is a special travel memory.
What happens at hyena feeding?
Well the story goes that at dusk/nightfall wild hyenas roamed the streets of Harar scavenging and looking for food. The locals decided to befriend them and try to tame them over the years and it’s worked. The hyenas now turn up at dusk and are ready for a live show which they are the stars of. The hyenas, in their innocent lives, are unaware of how popular or cool their activity has become. So after years of nightly hyena feeding by the local “hyena men”, Harar’s people realised the potential of this odd occurrence and as such turned it into a kind of tourist pull. A way for the locals to make money, the hyenas to get fed and the backpackers to get up close and personal to hyenas. Everyone’s a winner here.
An overview of what happens at the Hyena Feeding in Harar?
We headed down the street to feed hyenas.
Within minutes he is whistling out and calling hyenas to appear from nowhere. And they do. They are quick off the mark. One hyena comes and stands a mere 4-5 metres from us. The hyena knows the score. It’s going to get fed raw meat by the humans that are here!
The hyena man goes first so you can see how it’s done. He holds a bit of meat on a stick. The hyena comes up, hungry and eager.
Then the hyena man bites a piece of wood and holds it in his mouth. Meat is put on the other end of it. Again the hyena rocks up, snatches it with its jaw and walks back.
There are 3 main things you will do in terms of positions when feeding hyenas in Harar, and here are the three:
1. Feed them mouth to mouth.
2. Hand to Mouth – Hold a piece of wood in your hand. Put meat on the other end. The hyena comes up, takes it, eats it and walks back.
3. The hyena will jump on your back, in my case he walked up my back digging his paws in and devouring the food. It’s hard to stand still and stay calm when you think about what’s actually happening! This for me was the craziest moment. He jumped right on my back onto my Northern Ireland flag I had draped round me. Then he bit the food right by my ear! It was amazing!
The feeding a hyena by hand is the calmest and easiest part. We’ve all done that before with dogs, kangaroos etc. But the whole experience is just memorable!! I will never forget Harar or the hyena experience!!
How dangerous is hyena feeding in Harar?
Yes, of course. Like a lot of things we do on our travels, it has risks. You don’t sign any documents, there are no tourist tickets issued. It just happens by “the tree” on the backstreets on the edge of Harar. There is no real health and safety in place. But if you’re up for it, DO IT. I highly recommend it.
Are photos allowed?
Of course it’s fine! It’s easy to spot a tourist here. Also – if you’re scared you don’t need to do it – you can just go there and watch it from a distance – no problem. If you do this, it’s honourable to give an amount of money (at your discretion) to the “hyena man”, as he’s working for you and putting on a show.
Overall this is an amazing experience and I totally recommend hyena feeding in Harar.
Africa has been attracting wildlife lovers and adventure seekers since the days of the British Empire. While the visitors may have changed, the continent’s breathtaking savannahs, wildlife and culture remain the same. Today thousands of people still travel to remote reserves to experience the adventure first hand and they’re choosing to do it from ever exclusive resorts.
Those who have already succumbed to the calling describe a humbling experience; changed forever by the ways they encounter, a safari takes you away from life while connecting you with the origins of all life. The top destinations in Mozambique, Zambia and Kenya boast private terraces and pools, spectacular views, spas, golf courses and classes in everything from fitness to fine art.
Luxury means different things to everybody but luxury safaris combine the traditional comforts of a sophisticated suite, with excellent service in breathtaking locations. The top resorts can boast private terraces and pools, spectacular views, spas, golf courses and classes in everything from fitness to fine art. And they look fantastic on wedding pictures, too.
Prices are competitive with many operators including transfers, meals and activities and package deals on return flights. Luxury resorts are like going to Glastonbury and staying in the nearest Hilton and more and more people are following and getting on board with this emerging trend. Safari is so popular there is even a resort in Devon, UK.
Combining safari with a luxury holiday means unspoilt Africa in sumptuous surroundings. The food, the views and the adventure you’re after, all rolled into one. It’s for animal lovers, culture hunters and discerning travellers alike. The luxury safari may seem like a contradiction in terms but unless you choose to, it’s a spectacular way to ensure you won’t be sleeping in a hut.
Find out more about luxury holidays on safari in Africa.
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If you are looking for full day of adventure Auto-Safari Chapin is the solution it.
What you can do here:
Be in the middle of an exotic collection of animals in this car safari
Eat around like a king
Flop around in a huge pool
Take a gorgeous ride in a boat
You can take a leisure, rather, pleasure walk in their zoo!
Here you can drive close to the animals. When I say close, it’s because they will be right out your window! You don’t need a car to go in this safari. You can rent one from them and it won’t cost more than the same price of the entrance fee of a car.
The park has different entrance fees: $8 for only the safari ride and $12for the safari ride, the pool, the boat ride, the zoo and a great lunch with a drink and dessert. The kids get discounts. I took the $12 package because the food is great and much more expensive when you buy them separately and I don’t regret it.
Between the safari exhibits, you get to relax in a rest stop where the kids can play around and you can stretch your legs.
After eating, you can go to either the pool or to an ultra-relaxing boat ride. Due to my recent experience I recommend the boat ride because it is really beautiful and calm.
In order to end the day the best way possible, you get the opportunity to walk around in their wonderful small zoo. To be honest, when I first paid the entrance fee, I didn’t expect too much of it. But I must admit it was pretty good.
Marina K. Villatoro, the Travel Experta, has been living in Central America – Costa Rica and Guatemala for the past decade. Traveling with her family to all parts of Costa Rica and Guatemala, she now loves organizing vacations for people and offers first hand experience. Contact her for advice and to plan your perfect trip!
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