ON THE PLACES OF HISTORICAL BATTLES


March 1st 1896: A nice Tigrinya valley surrounded by high mountains: it is here that the great battle won by the Ethiopian army was fought. Almost 20,000 died. Straight afterwards lots of things changed between Italy and Ethiopia after the battle of Adwa….


January 20th 1936: 4 Ethiopian army corps and 3 Italian face each other along a 200 km front. But the outcome of the battle (and probably of the war) was decided in only one place: at the Uarieu pass in Tembien.



PROGRAM



1st Day

Arrive early in the morning at Mekelle airport and transfer to Gheralta lodge; on the road visit of the ancient church of Woukro Tcherrquos (10 th to 12 th centuries). Have a nice brunch at 12 pm and enjoy the room until 2 pm. Meet the guide at 2.30 pm and have a coffee, then depart for the visit of an important church of Gheralta cluster. With regard to your attitudes and training you can choice between a relaxing walk in a rural and authentic Tigrinya valley (Maryam Papaseity church), a steep path, with difficult passages, on the peaks of Korkor (Maryam e Daniel Korkor churches) or a challenging climb to the most interesting but difficult church, Abuna Yemata Guh.


Welcome aperitif and dinner at the lodge.


2nd Day

Breakfast at the lodge around 8 am; meet the guide for a short briefing, departure by car at 8.30 am.


Drive towards Tembien on the old military Italian track, now a paved road. On the left enjoy Gheralta Mountains, with pillars and red cliffs.

Almost half an hour later we reach around 1600 m asl (the lodge is at 2200 m). The valley becomes wider and the big Workamba massif (“the golden mountain”) appears with the two distinctive towers.


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Here the landscape changes: it is not solid like the massif in Gheralta. The geography becomes chaotic with peaks, valleys, rocks here and there: we are in Tembien.


At the outskirts of the town of Workamba we take the paved road on the left and then we shortly arrive at the Uarieu pass. Before the road goes down to the Beles valley we turn to the track that takes us to the hill where the fort used to be. Here we can park.


A simple monument stands in the middle of the square with an inscription in Amharic, English and Italian: a memorial for the battle and the victims. Nearby there is a small Tigrinya village, comprising simple stone houses.

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There is also a school, donated by Italy, much appreciated by the locals as it allows the kids to study in a “modern environment”. The class used to be open air, under the sycamore that still stands nearby, actually it was very typical.


We walk to the small Italian cemetery, now well kept by an old Ethiopian guardian. The cemetery has been brought back to acceptable conditions thanks to an Italian agronomist, Doctor Giuseppe de Bac. He spent time and resources

for this commendable purpose. The corpses, as it usually happens in these situations, were moved to big graveyards in Mekelle and Adigrat. Almost 30 gravestones are still here, including that of the Dominican chaplain Reginaldo Giuliani, who died in the Beles valley on the 21st of January 1936. A controversial personality, he was D’Annunzio’s companion in Fiume, he was awarded three medals as chaplain with the assault company during WWI, he supported the fascist regime and African colonization.


A short walk around the pass will give us the idea of the location of the battle. We take the car and go down to the valley of Beles, where the Diamanti’s column was attacked. Then, going back uphill, we will pass beside Amba Work, another place where big battles were fought later, in February 1936.


Picnic lunch.


On the outskirts of the town of Workamba we take the paved road to Abi Addi -Adwa. It is almost 4 pm and before reaching Adwa we turn right onto the track that takes us to the panoramic hill of Abba Garima. From here Queen Taitu watched some phases of the battle, praying and screaming patriotic exhortations all day long. It is also possible to visit Ras Alula’s tomb and a big church (men only). Go back to the main road and in 30 minutes reach the Salesian Sisters mission in Adwa.


Dinner and overnight at the guesthouse.


3rd Day


Breakfast at 6.30 am and departure at 7 by vehicle.


From Adwa we take the road to Adigrat, towards the Rebi Rienni pass. After some km our trekking starts in a nice valley with Mount Gossoso in the left and Mount Kidane Meret on the right. Piled-up stones indicate the point where the first rifle-shot was fired around 6 am.

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The walk starts in the point where the first rifle-shot was fired around 6 am during the initial fight between Captain Cesarini’s company and the Ethiopian groups that had arrived from Adwa during the night.

The Italian advance guard (Turitto battalion) was attacked by a huge group of enemies and lost many soldiers in this area. It was then defeated when they tried to withdraw to the north.

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After one hour walking uphill, on the left of Mount Gossoso, we reach Abi Becci hill surrounded by nice mountains: on the left Monoxeitò, on the right Sendedò, at the back the high Mount Samayata. It is in this valley that General Albertone deployed the majority of the Indigeni Brigade, placing the Sicilian artillery on the slope of Mount Sendedò.


If we look back to the south we can see Kidane Meret, and behind Abba Garima where the Queen Taitù watched the battle. We leave Adi Becci hill, going downhill towards the Mai Agam valley. Then we climb up again through a narrow valley, in the background the typical horn-shaped profile of Mount Rajo, on the right Mount Samayata. It is the path used by the Indigeni Brigade to withdraw, after the important loss in Adi Becci and General Albertone’s capture.


One hour from the Mai Agam valley we reach another hill surrounded by high peaks: it is the area where the second battle was fought.

The Italian headquarters was located on the left of Zeban Daaro and the troops of Arimondi Brigade were placed all along the line in the middle of the hill: on the left between Zeban Daaro and Rajo the “Bersaglieri” (Colonel Stevani), in the middle behind Rajo the Second Infantry (Colonel Brusati), on the right between Rajo and Erarà III` Eritrean (Lieutenant colonel Galliano).


We cross the hill going to the right towards the depression between Mount Rajo, Erarà and Ibisà. We arrive after almost one hour. Here the strong Alpinos’ resistance was able to slow down the Ethiopians’ advance, so the survivors from the Arimondi and Ellena brigades could withdraw toward Sauria. From the depression we go down to reach Rebi Rienni pass, where we rejoin our vehicle.


Picnic under the threes.


It is possible to complete this itinerary in 4/5 hours. The ascents and descents are at 2,000 m, but they are quite easy.


Driving back to Adwa it could be interesting to divert towards the Mariam Shoaitù valley, where the third battle was fought. The view is not outstanding, and nowadays the valley is partially occupied by a dam. We finish our trip around 4 pm. Drop off at a local hotel or at Axum airport. Then the vehicle returns back to Gheralta lodge, so it is also possible to return back there to continue your stay.


Arrival at the lodge at dinner time.


Price per person:


Group from 2 pax (double room): 380 $ Group from 4 pax (double rooms): 290 $ Group from 6 pax (twin/double rooms): 270 $

For solo travelers, big groups or special needs please contact the Lodge.


THE PRICE INCLUDES:

Overnight at the lodge and at the guesthouse in Adwa, meals and drinks (alcoholic drinks not included) from the lunch on the first day to the picnic on the third day, Italian/English speaking guide, transfer from Mekelle (day 1) to the airport or the hotels in Axum area (or to Gheralta lodge) on day 3, picnic material, entrances.



THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:


Tips, personal shopping, health insurance.


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