Excursion Around Addis Ababa

On the main road to Butajira, just after crossing Awash River, you drive off to the right to find Melka Kunture, an archeological site. In 1960s archeologists and geologists found stone tools, aged 2-3 million years old, that early man were using.
Further driving for about 5km on the main road, and then 13km to the right off the main road, you will reach the southerly most Ethiopian rock-hewn churches, Adadi Maryam. This church was excavated in the 13th Century at about the same time that Lalibela’s rock hewn churches have been hewn, probably by King Lalibela himself.

The town of Tiya is found at 89km south west of Addis Ababa. The stele field, world heritage site, consists of 36 obelisks where most of them are decorated. They have symbols of circles, swords, and podgy leaves rising on a stem from a rectangular base. The highest stone is 3.7meter high. It’s thought that they were carved sometime between 12th to 15th centuries. Recent excavations revealed that the stones mark mass graves of both males and females who died between the ages of 18 and 30.

The road to Ambo (125km west of Addis) takes you through the capital’s water supply reservoir Gefersa where a range of bush and wetland bird species including as many as a quarter of Ethiopia’s 29 endemic birds are found. The most prominent feature of the area is the Wonchi Creator Lake. Other major touristic appeals include the beautiful mountainous landscape, which is partly covered with forest, the islands on the lake and the hot mineral springs, waterfalls and dramatic valley around the lake. The area is the best site for trekking and boating. There are different routes for riding or walking and boating depending on the preference of visitors.

The small resort town Debrezeit (or Bishoftu) is only one hour’s drive south east of Addis Ababa, at an altitude of 1900m. It enjoys a warm climate. It is surrounded by a series of lovely crater lakes, full of birdlife, and is excellent for walking. Meanwhile, Sodore is situated 126kms south East of Addis. There’s natural hot spring water and an international standard swimming pool filled with clear and warm water. The Awash River flows by the side of the hotel fences and you may spot crocodiles and hippos. You can also spot many birds and the funniest monkeys in the compound.

The Menagesh Suba Park is known as the oldest park in Africa. The 14th c emperor Zera Yacob planted its first trees, and the forest’s rich biodiversity-leopard, giant African forest hog, yellow fronted parrot and giant juniper trees-is a living testimony to the foresight of Ethiopia’s “first conservationist.” It is situated some 35kms away from west of Addis Ababa and it is densely wooded with some 400 years old trees. It is also a sanctuary for several endemic birds and animals such as the Abyssinian Catbird and the Menelik Bush Buck. Addis Alem founded by Menelik II as it was his capital before he moved back to Addis Ababa is famous town for the church of Debre Zion on the top of a small hill.

Driving 103km north of Addis Ababa is the 13th century monastery, Debre Libanos. The monastery is dedicated to the Ethiopian saint Abuna Tekle Haimanot, who was preaching the gospel all over the country for about 42 years. The monastery has mural paintings on the windows from the Old and New Testaments. Just at the junction to the monastery, it is worth a visit to the Portuguese Bridge, considered as the first bridge in Ethiopia done by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Here you can spot different birds including the endemic cliff chat; Gelada Baboons, endemic to Ethiopia and the spectacular view with the water fall.
Further driving for about 110km, you will reach the Blue Nile Gorge, similar with the Grand Canyons of America. The bridge is about one mile width and depth, where the Blue Nile River flows underneath. This gorge is one of the most spectacular gorges in the world.

Drive 140kms north east of Addis Ababa to visit Debre Berhan, the city founded by King Zera Yacob (1434-1468). It was important in the earlier days because of its proximity to Ankober and the trade route through the rift valley to the coast. There is a large wool factory and the teacher training institute in the town. Ankober, located a short distance of 43kms from Debre Berhan, is built on the edge of the great escarpment of the rift valley. It is also founded by King Zera Yacob in the 15th C. Ruins of the palace of King Sahle Selassie and his predecessors are worth visiting in the area.”.