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Stay with Dinknesh at the south of Ethiopia in our own BUSKALODGE

Visit 1 of the beautiful spa resorts in Ethiopia at Lake Langano or Lake Tana

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Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park

Awash National Park

Bale Mountains National Park

Simien mountains national Park

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Nature

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Guest Album South Ethiopia

Guest Album North Ethiopia

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Attractions  
Chamo and Abaya Lakes |  Birds |  People Around the Lakes | Lake Langano |  Lake Abyata |  Zuquala Lake |  Zway Lake |  Awasa |  Menelik Mausoleum |  National Museum |  Africa Hall |  Trinity Cathedral |  Mt Entoto |  Mercato |  Debre Zeit |  Sodore |  Ambo (Hagere Hiwot) |  Adadi Mariam and Melka Quntture |  Menagesha Forest |  Debre Libanes |  Debre Herhan and Ankober |  Awash National Park |  Arba Minch |  Omo Region |  Bale National Park |  Axum |  Rift Valley Lakes Road Bihere-Tsige Flower Garden |  Blue Nile Gorge (Tis Issat) |  Lalibela |  Bahir Dar |  Chamo and Abaya Lakes |  People Around the Lakes | 

Chamo and Abaya Lakes
Far south in Ethiopia's Great Rift Valley lie two marvellous lakes ringed by savanna plains and smoke; mountain crests. By far the largest of Ethiopia's Rift Valley lakes, the 551-square-kilometre waters of Chamo and the 1,160-square-kilometre surface of Abaya are considered by many to be also the most beautiful. Indeed, few places on earth can match the allure of their setting.

Much of this forms part of one of Ethiopia's finest national parks, Nech Sar, established as a sanctuary for the rare Swayne's hartebeest. From the town of Arba Minch on the ridge of land that divides Abaya and Chamo there are commanding views of the panorama all around including both lakes with Nech Sar on the eastern side and, to the west, the Huge range of mountains. Such is the outstanding beauty of this viewpoint it has long been known as the Bridge of Heaven. Equally poetic, Arba Minch -meaning Forty Springs in Amharic -takes its name from the bubbling streams which spring up amid the undergrowth .of the luxuriant forest which clothes the steep slopes beneath the town.

 

This region, more than 500 kilometres south of Addis Ababa, is one of Ethiopia's last great surviving wildernesses. But an international hotel at Arba Minch with high-quality service and facilities ensures the visitor enjoys the splendours of nature in comfort.

 

This is an ideal base from which to explore the forested land between the lakes, and the plains of Nech Sar beyond where the surviving herds of Swayne's hartebeest, once in abundance, and zebra and Grant's gazelle roam the high savanna.

 

There's an air of untamed grandeur about all this that lingers over the lakes and mountains. Alive with many species of fish -the fighting tiger fish, giant Nile perch, barbell, catfish and tilapia offering fine sport -

 

Chamo and Abaya are an angler's paradise. In the reed-fringed bays of Chamo's sparkling aquamarine waters hundreds of hippos emerge at night to graze on the grassy shores. Chamo is also sanctuary for several thousand Nile crocodile, some reaching lengths of up to seven metres from snout to tip of tail.

Birds
Here the balance between predator and prey remains in equilibrium; bird life flourishes in equal proportion: hordes of yellow weaver birds flit constantly through the trees, and vividly-coloured kingfishers skim the lakes where Great White pelicans, storks; ibises, hornbills and cormorants plumb the waters for food. With piercing echoing cries, black, and white fish eagles swoop down from their tree perches to snatch up unwary fish in their talons.

People Around the Lakes
The shores and islands of Abaya and Chamo are populated by farming peoples such as the Ganjule and the Guji, both of whom also have ancient traditions of hippo hunting. The Guji ply the waters of lake Abaya in high-prowled ambatch boats similar to those depicted on the tombs of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs.

South-west of the lakes in the direction of Jinka, the traveller comes to the homeland of the Konso who practice an intensive form of agriculture on intricately-terraced hillsides. The Konso have a rich indigenous culture that finds expression in haunting music and dance, and in the weaving of beautiful thick cotton blankets.

Another distinctive people of the region around Lakes Chamo and Abaya are the Dorze, once warriors, who have now turned to farming and weaving. They produce the colourful toga-like robes known as shammas which are worn throughout Ethiopia. Though there's a large Dorze population around Arba Minch itself, their traditional homeland is further to the north around Chencha, high up in the Huge mountain range overlooking the lakes and the Bridge of Heaven.

 

The brief, 26-kilometre drive from Arba Minch up to Chencha involves a remarkable transition – climbing from the lush, tropical forests of the lowland, through bamboo at around 2,500 metres, into stands of juniper laced with Spanish moss where cold fingers of cloud grasp the ancient limbs of the trees and the air is chill and bracing.

 

Dorze villages are classic example of simple architecture, unlike anything seen elsewhere in Ethiopia -towering beehive-shaped structures reaching up to 12 metres high, the interiors dark but spacious and airy with floors of pressed earth. The vaulted ceiling walls are covered with an elegant thatch of ensete (false banana) to form a smooth and unbroken convex dome. Each home stands in its own grounds surrounded by smaller but similar houses: guest house; cow-shed, kitchen and perhaps even a workshop for weaving or other work.

 

Northwards from Chencha, leaving Lake Abaya behind -and with it the wilderness -the traveller eventually comes to the bustling market town of Sodo, which stands on the border between the regions of Gamo Gofa, Sidamo and Kaffa. This is one of Ethiopia's premier coffee-growing areas and, quite possibly, the original home of the coffee plant –where, the first trees grew wild before being cultivated and then, in the 14th century, taken to Yemen and from there across the world.

Lake Langano
At the Horacallo bridge it is possible to turn left along a track which leads to the lake. There are good camping spots here along the northern shore however, the main track to the lake is at about 210 and 215 kms leading left to the Wabe Shebele and Bekele Mola Hotels, beach and camping ground respectively:

  A new resort style spa has been established on the borders of Lake langano lat yourself be pampered by their skilled staff after your tour through our wonderful country.

The soft brown waters of Langano are set against the blue backdrop of the Arsi Mountains soaring4,000 meters high. A few birds make Langano their home but this resort is less for the nature lover than sportsman and sun worshipper. Here you can water ski and sail, swim or bask in the blazing sun on the sloping sandy beach. European food is served in the hotel restaurant but the tilapia is good and cooking freshly caught fish over the camp fire has its own special attraction. The local Oromo women are often prepared to sell jewellery or utensils; copper bracelets or brass; bead necklaces and cowry shell decorated milk pots.

Lake Abyata
Before reaching the turnoff to Langano lake, the road passes over the Bulbula river. Just before the bridge and the village, there is a track to the right (at the top of the slope) which leads to the lake edge. At certain times of the year the greatest congregation of birds is to be found here. However, before the next bridge, over the Horacallo river (connecting Lakes Langano and Abyata) a turning to the right leads to the more usual area of exceptional bird viewing.

 

Thousands of flamingos create pink carpets in the blue bays of the lake; great white pelicans soar in from Lake Shala to enjoy the fishing and execute their fantastic ballet; pied kingfishers hover and dive; fish eagles protect their territory with their eerie cry; cormorants and darters fill the dead acacia trees silhouetting strange and beautiful shapes against the sunset. Here are tall marabous, sacred ibis, dwell sometimes in the hundreds of thousands, snipe, stilt, avocet, and the black heron searching the shallow water in the shadow created by his black umbrella.

Zuquala Lake
A huge volcanic cone set isolated in the surrounding plain and rising 600m Zuquala’s crater is still perfectly preserved. Two kilometers across and sixty meters deep the crater is occupied by a shallow lake, well known as a holy lake. For many centuries the rim has been the site of a monastery. Mohammed Gragn destroyed one of the buildings but it was rebuilt and is still in use today. The inside rim of the crater is covered with juniper forest, the frequent swirling mists encourage a heavy growth of trailing lichens and the beautiful black and white colobus monkey can sometimes be seen, adding yet another dimension to this already picturesque place. To get to Zuquala, it is possible to turn off the Addis Ababa-Bishoftu road at Dukem 35 km. from the city, or to turn off near Bishoftu at Dirray. The latter is probably the more used track at the present time, it is about three hours walk or fifty minutes drive to Wember Mariam at the base of the mountain. It is possible to drive to the top, but check conditions before driving it as it can be a difficult road.

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Zway Lake
Lake Zway is 26 km. long and 18km, wide and several islands dot the surface of the largest of the five lakes. There are several turnoffs leading to the lake shore Tall fig trees line the original shore, but in recent years the level of the lake has dropped to such an extent that several hundred metres of grassland and reeds come between you and the water. Marabou storks roost on the tops of the acacias in the evenings, and many other birds have made the grassy stretch their feeding area. On the north side of the lake where the Meki river flows in lies Hippopotamus Bay. To reach the far shore or any of the islands it is necessary to bring a boat.

Awasa
At about 275 km from Addis Ababa a gravel road on the right runs along the shore of Lake Awasa to the two or three resort hotels. The luxury Awasa Hotel, is the most comfortable. Simpler accommodation at the Bekele Mola Hotel, and the more interesting Belle Vue du Lac (also with swimming pool and a tennis court) is quite adequate. Fishing and boating are favourite pastimes on Lake Awasa, although again the bird watching, if not as spectacular as Abyata, has its own special attractions.

Menelik Mausoleum
Menelik Mausoleum is situated in the enclaves of the old palace under Baata Church. It was built in 1911 and houses the crypts of Emperor Menelik II, his wife, Empress Taitu and his daughter, Empress Zauditu. The mausoleum also yields numerous parchments, scrolls and other vernacular scripts.

National Museum
The National Museum is situated within the old palace, which is now the Addis Ababa University. The museum contains numerous antiquities and various historical relics, archaeological, pale ontological objects including the 3.5 million year old skeleton of Lucy.

Africa Hall
The Africa Hall is situated opposite the Grand Palace. It has been the seat of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The first African Heads of State Conference which brought the Organization of African Unity (OAU) into being, was held in this building in 1963 and you will find one of the finest works of Maitre Artist Laureate Afework Tekle, depicting the Africans of yesterday, today and tomorrow in their struggle for freedom and progress.

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Trinity Cathedral
Trinity Cathedral was built in 1941 and it is the largest and most magnificent of all modern churches in the country ornamented with carvings and mosaics and other artistic works. The paintings of the saints and the apostles on stained glasses can be seen.

Mt Entoto
Mount Entoto is the best location to observe the panoramic view of Addis Ababa both by day and night. On the top of this hill, stands St. Mary’s Church built in 1885.

Grand Market
The grand market (Mercato) is one of the biggest open markets of the kind in all Africa. In Mercato, one can find anything that money can buy; a great variety of agricultural, Industrial, conspicuous handicraft and other intrinsic products are found.

Debre Zeit
Debre Zeit or Bishoftu is found 45 kilometres south east of Addis Ababa. Attractive and lovely crater lakes, ideal for bird watching and boat rides, surround this town.

Sodore
Sodore is situated 126 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa. It is a very popular resort area with an Olympic size swimming pool and physiotherapy centers.

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Ambo (Hagere Hiwot)
Ambo is situated 125 kilometres west of Addis Ababa. The Ambo road passes through Ceferssa Reservoir, thereafter Menagesha and Addis Alem towns. Ambo yields the most popular mineral water source. Its hot springs have been turned into modern spas. After a few minutes drive, the town of Guder could be reached. Here the beautiful volcanic crater lake of Wonchi and the spectacular Guder Falls and its vineyards. Guder, a popular export quality of red wine, has been named after this town.

Adadi Mariam and Melka Quntture
Melka Quntture is situated 50 kilometres south of Addis Ababa on the Alem Gena-Sodo road. With its scenic site on the bank of the Awash river; Melka Quntture is an archeological spot where experts had excavated fossils, stone tools and related materials of the early man I .5 million years old. Adadi Mariam is located in a midland tract surrounded with beautiful and enticing hills.

Menagesha Forest
Menagesha is about 35 kilometres. west of Addis Ababa. The park is densely wooded with 400-year old trees. In this park are species of various birds and animals, like Menelik Bush-buck the black and blue winged goose, and others.

Debre Libanes
Debre Libanos is 100 kilometres north of Addis Ababa. A 13th Century monastery is found here.

The Blue Nile Gorge
The Blue Nile Gorge is situated 225 kilometres north of Addis Ababa. The majestic and enormous gorge is the most captivating gorge in Africa. It has a magnificent, alluring physical feature and natural beauty.

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Debre Herhan and Ankober
Debre Berhan is situated 130 kilometres northeast of Addis Ababa. It is one of the oldest towns in the country and has several historic sites. Ankober is a small town 35 kilometres south of Debre Berhan, where Emperor Menelik was born. It is situated on top of a great escarpment. There, the ruins of Menelik’s Palace still stand near St. Michael Church.

Lake Langano
Lake Langano is located 200 kilometres south of Addis Ababa. It has a sand beach, which attracts many visitors.

Awash National Park
Awash National Park and Game Reserve is situated 225 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa. Sights include Awash Falls, the gigantic gorge and species of wild animals like oryx, hartebeest, water kudu, lion and gazelle.

Arba Minch
Arba Minch is well known for its large number and variety of wildlife, species of endemic birds and natural beauty of the landscape.

Omo Region
The Omo valley is located in the southwest of Addis Ababa and offers the most attractive and beautiful landscape and lake scenery in the region. The Omo region is home for nomadic and semi-nomadic people with different fascinating ethnic groups and culture, among them are the Hamer, Mursi, Karo, Benna, Geleb, Surma and Arri and others.

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Bale National Park
Bale National Park is situated 500 kilometres south of Addis Ababa. It is established on the high plateau of mountain, which includes the village of Dinshu to the north. Endemic mammals such as the Mountain Nyala, Red Fox, and Menelik’s Bushbuck inhabit the park. Besides, it is the shelter of Ethiopia’s series of 28 endemic birds.

Axum
Axum is an ancient city that Queen Sheba used as her capital in the tenth century BC. Axum is famous for its obelisks or monolithic stelae. In addition to these huge stone carvings, the imposing St. Mary of Zion Church is the oldest of all churches in Ethiopia, rich for its historic and ecclesiastical relics.

Sodere
Sodere is 120 kilometres from Addis Ababa. The resort area boasts of volcanic mineral springs, which bubble to the surface to fill its two blue swimming pools with clear warm water. The nearby Awash River is another attraction. Swimming and relaxing are the objects of most people's trip to Sodere. Those who enjoy walks are able to spot birds, vervet monkeys and baboons as well as crocodiles and hippos that frequent this stretch of the Awash.

Rift Valley Lakes Road Bihere-Tsige Flower Garden
Over 6,000 varieties of flowers and shrubs can be sighted here and fish can also been seen in the Akaki River, which flows through the grounds.

Blue Nile Gorge (Tis Issat)
The great Abbay river flows out of Lake Tana and cascades over the famous Blue Nile Falls (Tis Issat). It then winds for about 500km, through some of the most spectacular gorge country in the world.

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Lalibella
Lalibella is a small town, which is secluded by mountains. It is the place where the eleven rock-hewn churches of the 13th century, carved out of single solid rocks built by King Lalibella can be found. The site can justifiably claim to be one of the wonders of the world.

Bahir Dar
Bahir Dar is the capital city of Amhara region. For centuries it has been a place of commercial importance, due to papyrus canoes, and boats made by the Woyto people who live alongside Lake Tana. It is known for the Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana – its two main attractions.

Chamo and Abaya Lakes
Far south in Ethiopia's Great Rift Valley lie two marvellous lakes ringed by savanna plains and smoke; mountain crests. By far the largest of Ethiopia's Rift Valley lakes, the 551-square-kilometre waters of Chamo and the 1,160-square-kilometre surface of Abaya are considered by many to be also the most beautiful. Indeed, few places on earth can match the allure of their setting.

 

Much of this forms part of one of Ethiopia's finest national parks, Nech Sar, established as a sanctuary for the rare Swayne's hartebeest. From the town of Arba Minch on the ridge of land that divides Abaya and Chamo there are commanding views of the panorama all around including both lakes with Nech Sar on the eastern side and, to the west, the Guge range of mountains. Such is the outstanding beauty of this viewpoint it has long been known as the Bridge of Heaven. Equally poetic, Arba Minch -meaning Forty Springs in Amharic -takes its name from the bubbling streams which spring up amid the undergrowth .of the luxuriant forest which clothes the steep slopes beneath the town.

 

This region, more than 500 kilometres south of Addis Ababa, is one of Ethiopia's last great surviving wildernesses. But an international hotel at Arba Minch with high-quality service and facilities ensures the visitor enjoys the splendours of nature in comfort.

 

This is an ideal base from which to explore the forested land between the lakes, and the plains of Nech Sar beyond where the surviving herds of Swayne's hartebeest, once in abundance, and zebra and Grant's gazelle roam the high savanna.

 

There's an air of untamed grandeur about all this that lingers over the lakes and mountains. Alive with many species of fish -the fighting tigerfish, giant Nile perch, barbel, catfish and tilapia offering fine sport -

 

Chamo and Abaya are an angler's paradise. In the reed-fringed bays of Chamo's sparkling aquamarine waters hundreds of hippos emerge at night to graze on the grassy shores. Chamo is also sanctuary for several thousand Nile crocodile, some reaching lengths of up to seven metres from snout to tip of tail.

Birds
Here the balance between predator and prey remains in equilibrium; birdlife flourishes in equal proportion: hordes of yellow weaver birds flit constantly through the trees, and vividly-coloured kingfishers skim the lakes where Great White pelicans, storks; ibises, hornbills and cormorants plumb the waters for food. With piercing echoing cries, black, and white fish eagles swoop down from their tree perches to snatch up unwary fish in their talons.

People Around the Lakes
The shores and islands of Abaya and Chamo are populated by farming peoples such as the Ganjule and the Guji, both of whom also have ancient traditions of hippo hunting. The Guji ply the waters of lake Abaya in high-prowed ambatch boats similar to those depicted on the tombs of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs.

South-west of the lakes in the direction of Jinka, the traveller comes to the homeland of the Konso who practice an intensive form of agriculture on intricately-terraced hillsides. The Konso have a rich indigenous culture that finds expression in haunting music and dance, and in the weaving of beautiful thick cotton blankets.

 

Another distinctive people of the region around Lakes Chamo and Abaya are the Dorze, once warriors, who have now turned to farming and weaving. They produce the colourful toga-like robes known as shammas which are worn throughout Ethiopia. Though there's a large Dorze population around Arba Minch itself, their traditional homeland is further to the north around Chencha, high up in the Guge mountain range overlooking the lakes and the Bridge of Heaven.

 

The brief, 26-kilometre drive from Arba Minch up to Chencha involves a remarkable transition – climbing from the lush, tropical forests of the lowland, through bamboo at around 2,500 metres, into stands of juniper laced with Spanish moss where cold fingers of cloud grasp the ancient limbs of the trees and the air is chill and bracing.

 

Dorze villages are classic example of simple architecture, unlike anything seen elsewhere in Ethiopia -towering beehive-shaped structures reaching up to 12 metres high, the interiors dark but spacious and airy with floors of pressed earth. The vaulted ceiling walls are covered with an elegant thatch of ensete (false banana) to form a smooth and unbroken convex dome. Each home stands in its own grounds surrounded by smaller but similar houses: guest house; cow-shed, kitchen and perhaps even a workshop for weaving or other work.

 

Northwards from Chencha, leaving Lake Abaya behind -and with it the wilderness -the traveller eventually comes to the bustling market town of Sodo, which stands on the border between the regions of Gamo Gofa, Sidamo and Kaffa. This is one of Ethiopia's premier coffee-growing areas and, quite possibly, the original home of the coffee plant –where, the first trees grew wild before being cultivated and then, in the 14th century, taken to Yemen and from there across the world.

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Lake Langano
At the Horacallo bridge it is possible to turn left along a track which leads to the lake. There are good camping spots here along the northern shore however, the main track to the lake is at about 210 and 215 kms leading left to the Wabe Shebele and Bekele Mola Hotels, beach and camping ground respectively:

 

The soft brown waters of Langano are set against the blue backdrop of the Arsi Mountains soaring4,000 metreshigh. A few birds make Langano their home but this resort is less for the nature lover than sportsman and sunworshipper. Here you can waterski and sail, swim or bask in the blazing sun on the sloping sandy beach. European food is served in the hotel restaurant but the tilapia is good and cooking freshly caught fish over the camp fire has its own special attraction. The local Oromo women are often prepared to sell jewellery or utensils; copper bracelets or brass; bead necklaces and cowrie shell decorated milk pots.

Lake Abyata
Before reaching the turnoff to Langano lake, the road passes over the Bulbula river. Just before the bridge and the village, there is a track to the right (at the top of the slope) which leads to the lake edge. At certain times of the year the greatest congregation of birds is to be found here. However, before the next bridge, over the Horacallo river (connecting Lakes Langano and Abyata) a turning to the right leads to the more usual area of exceptional bird viewing.

 

Thousands of flamingos create pink carpets in the blue bays of the lake; great white pelicans soar in from Lake Shala to enjoy the fishing and execute their fantastic ballet; pied kingfishers hover and dive; fish eagles protect their territory with their eerie cry; cormorants and darters fill the dead acacia trees silhouetting strange and beautiful shapes against the sunset. Here are tall marabous, sacred ibis, dwell sometimes in the hundreds of thousands, snipe, stilt, avocet, and the black heron searching the shallow water in the shadow created by his black umbrella.

Zuquala Lake
A huge volcanic cone set isolated in the surrounding plain and rising 600m Zuquala’s crater is still perfectly preserved. Two kilometers across and sixty meters deep the crater is occupied by a shallow lake, well known as a holy lake. For many centuries the rim has been the site of a monastery. Mohammed Gragn destroyed one of the buildings but it was rebuilt and is still in use today. The inside rim of the crater is covered with juniper forest, the frequent swirling mists encourage a heavy growth of trailing lichens and the beautiful black and white colobus monkey can sometimes be seen, adding yet another dimension to this already picturesque place. To get to Zuquala, it is possible to turn off the Addis Ababa-Bishoftu road at Dukem 35 km. from the city, or to turn off near Bishoftu at Dirray. The latter is probably the more used track at the present time, it is about three hours walk or fifty minutes drive to Wember Mariam at the base of the mountain. It is possible to drive to the top, but check conditions before driving it as it can be a difficult road.

Zway Lake
Lake Zway is 26 km. long and 18km, wide and several islands dot the surface of the largest of the five lakes. There are several turnoffs leading to the lake shore Tall fig trees line the original shore, but in recent years the level of the lake has dropped to such an extent that several hundred metres of grassland and reeds come between you and the water. Marabou storks roost on the tops of the acacias in the evenings, and many other birds have made the grassy stretch their feeding area. On the north side of the lake where the Meki river flows in lies Hippopotamus Bay. To reach the far shore or any of the islands it is necessary to bring a boat.

Awasa
At about 275 km from Addis Ababa a gravel rcad on the right runs along the shore of Lake Awasa to the two or three resort hotels. The luxury Awasa Hotel, is the most comfortable. Simpler accommodation at the Bekele Mola Hotel, and the more interesting Belle Vue du Lac (also with swimming pool and a tennis court) is quite adequate. Fishing and boating are favourite pastimes on Lake Awasa, although again the birdwatching, if not as spectacular as Abyata, has its own special attractions.

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