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Degol Woyane is a tabia or municipality in the Dogu'a Tembien district of the Tigray Region of Ethiopia. It includes Dabba Selama, the oldest monastery of Ethiopia, and the most inaccessible in the world. The tabia centre is in Zala village, located approximately 10 km to the west of the woreda town Hagere Selam.

Degol Woyane

Dabba Salama
Dabba Selama monastery on a small mesa in Adigrat Sandstone
Dabba Selama monastery on a small mesa in Adigrat Sandstone
Degol Woyane is located in Ethiopia
Degol Woyane
Degol Woyane
Location within Ethiopia
Coordinates: 13°40′N 39°6′E / 13.667°N 39.100°E / 13.667; 39.100Coordinates: 13°40′N 39°6′E / 13.667°N 39.100°E / 13.667; 39.100
CountryEthiopia
RegionTigray
ZoneDebub Misraqawi (Southeastern)
WoredaDogu'a Tembien
Area
 • Total29.19 km2 (11.27 sq mi)
Elevation
2,500 m (8,200 ft)
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)

GeographyEdit

The tabia stretches down west of Melfa, along the westernmost ridge of Dogu'a Tembien. The highest peak is T'afa (2580 m a.s.l.) and the lowest place Addi Welo (1990 m a.s.l.).

GeologyEdit

From the higher to the lower locations, the following geological formations are present:[1]

SpringsEdit

As there are no permanent rivers, the presence of springs is of utmost importance for the local people. The following are the springs in the tabia:[2]

  • May Dara in Zala
  • Addi Welo

LivelihoodEdit

The population lives essentially from crop farming, supplemented with off-season work in nearby towns. The land is dominated by farmlands which are clearly demarcated and are cropped every year. Hence the agricultural system is a permanent upland farming system.[3]

PopulationEdit

The tabia centre Zala holds a few administrative offices and some small shops. The main other populated places in the tabia are:[4]

  • Gimsa
  • T'afa
  • May Baha
  • Ferrey
  • Dabba Selama
  • Addi Welo
  • May Idaga

Religion and rock churchesEdit

Most inhabitants are Orthodox Christians. The following rock churches are located in the tabia:

The almost inaccessible Dabba Selama monastery (13°41.67′N 39°6.03′E / 13.69450°N 39.10050°E / 13.69450; 39.10050) is assumed to be the first monastery established in Ethiopia, by Saint Frumentius. The intrepid visitor will climb down, then scramble over narrow ledges along precipices, and finally climb an overhanging cliff. The mesa also comprises a church hewn in Adigrat Sandstone, in shape of a small basilica. The carvers attempted to establish four bays as wel as with a recess. The pillars are rounded (which is uncommon) and expand at either end, supporting arches that appear as triangles. Women are not allowed to do the ascent, nor to visit monastery or church. Independently from the difficult access to the monastery, the surrounding sandstone geomorphology is unique.[5][6]

The Amani'el church in May Baha (13°40′N 39°5.4′E / 13.667°N 39.0900°E / 13.667; 39.0900) has also been carved in Adigrat Sandstone. Behind a pronaos (1960s), the rock church has cruciform columns, flat beams and a flat ceiling, a single arch, and a flat rear wall without apse. Windows give light to the church itself. Emperor Yohannes IV was baptised in this church.[6][7]

HistoryEdit

The history of the tabia is strongly confounded with the history of Tembien.

Roads and communicationEdit

A rural access road links Zala to the main asphalt road in Hagere Selam.

TourismEdit

Its mountainous nature, monastery and rock church make the tabia fit for tourism.[8]

Touristic attractionsEdit

  • Daba Selama monastery
  • May Baha rock church
  • Grand-canyon-like landscapes

Geotouristic sitesEdit

The high variability of geological formations and the rugged topography invites for geological and geographic tourism or "geotourism".[9] Geosites in the tabia include:

  • Grand-canyon-like landscapes
  • May Mirara Forest
  • Chege Forest
  • Ferrey resurgence and tropical gardens
  • Tsaliet gorge

BirdwatchingEdit

Birdwatching (for the species, see the main Dogu'a Tembien page) can be done particularly in exclosures and forests. The following bird-watching sites have been inventoried[10] in the tabia and mapped.[4]

  • Zala slope forest
  • May Baha church forest
  • May Mirara forest

Trekking routesEdit

Trekking routes have been established in this tabia.[11] The tracks are not marked on the ground but can be followed using downloaded .GPX files.[12]

All treks require good physical condition and will take (at least) a full day.

Inda Siwa, the local beer housesEdit

In the main villages, there are traditional beer houses (Inda Siwa), often in unique settings, which are a good place for resting and chatting with the local people. Most renown in the tabia are[2]

  • Tinsue Brhane at Zala
  • Letebrhan Gerese'a at Zala

Accommodation and facilitiesEdit

The facilities are very basic.[13] One may be invited to spend the night in a rural homestead or ask permission to pitch a tent. Hotels are available in Hagere Selam, Werqamba, Abiy Addi and Mekelle.

More detailed informationEdit

For more details on environment, agriculture, rural sociology, hydrology, ecology, culture, etc., see the overall page on the Dogu'a Tembien district.

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Sembroni, A.; Molin, P.; Dramis, F. (2019). Regional geology of the Dogu'a Tembien massif. In: Geo-trekking in Ethiopia's Tropical Mountains - The Dogu'a Tembien District. SpringerNature. ISBN 978-3-030-04954-6.
  2. ^ a b What do we hear from the farmers in Dogu'a Tembien? [in Tigrinya] (PDF). Hagere Selam, Ethiopia. 2016. p. 100.
  3. ^ Naudts, J (2002). Les Hautes Terres de Tembien, Tigré, Ethiopie; Résistance et limites d'une ancienne civilisation agraire; Conséquences sur la dégradation des terres [MSc dissertation]. CNEARC, Montpellier, France.
  4. ^ a b Jacob, M. and colleagues (2019). Geo-trekking map of Dogu'a Tembien (1:50,000). In: Geo-trekking in Ethiopia's Tropical Mountains - The Dogu'a Tembien District. SpringerNature. ISBN 978-3-030-04954-6.
  5. ^ Plant, R.; Buxton, D. (1970). "Rock-hewn churches of the Tigre province". Ethiopia Observer. 12 (3): 267.
  6. ^ a b Gerster, G. (1972). Kirchen im Fels – Entdeckungen in Äthiopien. Zürich: Atlantis Verlag.
  7. ^ Description of trekking routes in Dogu'a Tembien. In: Geo-trekking in Ethiopia's Tropical Mountains - The Dogu'a Tembien District. SpringerNature. 2019. ISBN 978-3-030-04954-6.
  8. ^ Geo-trekking in Ethiopia's Tropical Mountains - The Dogu'a Tembien District. SpringerNature. 2019. ISBN 978-3-030-04954-6.
  9. ^ Miruts Hagos and colleagues (2019). Geosites, Geoheritage, Human-Environment Interactions, and Sustainable Geotourism in Dogu'a Tembien. In: Geo-Trekking in Ethiopia's Tropical Mountains, the Dogu'a Tembien District. SpringerNature. ISBN 978-3-030-04954-6.
  10. ^ Aerts, R.; Lerouge, F.; November, E. (2019). Birds of forests and open woodlands in the highlands of Dogu'a Tembien. In: Geo-trekking in Ethiopia's Tropical Mountains - The Dogu'a Tembien District. SpringerNature. ISBN 978-3-030-04954-6.
  11. ^ Description of Trekking Routes in Dogu'a Tembien. Springer-Nature. 2019. pp. 557–675.
  12. ^ https://www.openstreetmap.org/traces/tag/nyssen-jacob-frankl
  13. ^ Logistics for the Trekker in a Rural Mountain District of Northern Ethiopia. Springer-Nature. 2019. pp. 537–556.