Harar Gates Etb

Harar Tours

One of Harar's main gates

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Stroll around this fascinating old walled city

Discover the most important Islamic community in Ethiopia on a private Harar tour of this UNSECO World Heritage Site

Found in the Eastern part of Ethiopia, along the road towards Djibouti, Harar is by far the most significant Islamic community in Ethiopia and offers a fascinating contrast to the Christian-dominated historical sites in the North of the country. Dating back to 1520, Harar is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for those who have the time and inclination it’s well worth a visit to see a totally different side of Ethiopia.

Best-accessed by flying from Addis to nearby Dire Dawa (an hour or so by road from Harar), a 2-night side trip is perfect for visiting Harar and enjoying everything that it has to offer. The old walled city is fascinating to walk around, with its series of winding alleyways, off which you will find some 83 mosques, both private and public. Indeed, given the size of the city, Harar has the largest concentration of mosques anywhere in the world. As always, strict protocol must be followed to enter these mosques, with many visitors choosing to admire from the outside as opposed to entering. Perhaps the most intriguing of Harar’s visitor attractions comes after dark, when the ‘Hyena Men of Harar’ start to call these often-misunderstood predators in from the shadows for their nightly feeding. Whilst they remain completely wild animals, they have come to rely on the feeding as a source of food, with many of the Hyena Men feeding them with meat on a stick attached to their heads. Doubtless this is a strange spectacle, but one that remains oddly alluring and is witnessed at least once by most visitors to Harar.

Paradoxically for a mostly Muslim town, Harar is also home to the excellent Harar Brewery, which produces beer sold all over Ethiopia. Informal tours can usually be arranged by asking your guide and, whilst not a reason to visit Harar alone, are a pleasant aside, especially before heading back to Dire Dawa for a flight to Addis Ababa. If you fancy a side-trip to this intriguing city, ask us about the best Harar hotels for your stay.

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