My Choice Ethiopia Tour organizes regular Weekend Tours to (1) The Rift Valley Lakes, (2) Gheralta Mountains and (3) Awash National Park + Alledeghi Wildlife Reserve. The tour starts every Saturday morning and ends on Sunday afternoon. For those interested ones who have the time, budget and interest all tours are made to be easily extended to include more interesting places in the vicinity.
Weekend Tour #1: Rift Valley Lakes
Rout: Addis Ababa > Melka Kunture > Adadi Mariam > Tiya > Hosaena > Awassa > Langano > Abiatta-Shalla > Zway > Bishoftu > Addis Ababa.
Duration: 2 Days and 1 Night
Code: WKT 002
Highlights: Exploring the Prehistoric Site of Melka Kunture (in the temporary list of UNESCO World Heritage), the archeological sites of Tiya, also a World Heritage site; Bird watching around Awassa lake, Langano and the Rift Valley Lakes.
Saturdays: Melka Kunture – Tiya – Awasa – Langano
Pick up is at 7.30 am, and we then head south-west on the Jimma road, before turning due south on to the Butajira Road. Melka Kunture lies near the Awash River Gorge and is one of the most important neolithic sites in Ethiopia. Hand axes and various other implements have been found here. There is a museum at the site.
About 5 km further on the Butajira Road, is the rock hewn church of Adadi Mariam, contemporaneous with those of Lalibela – in fact local tradition ascribes it to King Lalibela who is said to have had it built on his visit to Mount Zuqwala in 1106. Damaged during the wars with Ahmed Gragn in the 16th century, it fell into disuse and was only reopened in the time of Menelik II. It is today in regular use.
Next is Tiya, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, where we can see the northernmost example of a peculiar type of engraved, standing stelae which stretch across parts of southern Ethiopia. These stelae are believed to have been erected between the 12th and 14th centuries and are almost certainly grave markers – recent excavations at Tiya have revealed the remains of young people of both sexes, aged between 18 – 30 and buried in foetal positions.
A late evening boat trip overview on Lake Awassa to visit the hippo pods and the local fish market where you can see the fishermen serving guests with fish, fast food or takeaway. Furthermore, there is wonderful birdlife in the area.
In the late evening, continue your drive to Lake Langano (75Km from Awassa, one of the Rift Valley Lakes and the only lake that you can swim in). Upon arrival, you will check into a resort by the lake side. Relax by the seashore, swim or walk. In the evening you will have dinner at some lodge and stay the night there. Overnight stay in one of the beautiful resorts.
Sundays: Langano – Abayatta Shalla – Zway – Addis Ababa
After breakfast, drive back to north of Addis Ababa. On the way a stopover at Abiatta-Shala National Park located west of lake Langano. An opportunity to see ostrich, gazelle and warthogs. Lake Shala, 410sq-km surface sits within a collapsed volcanic caldera depths exceeding 260m making it the deepest in Ethipoia. Lake Abiatta is a perfect place to look for flamingos and can be seen in flocks of thousands.
Today en route you will make a stop on Awash River and Lake Ziway to visit aquatic birds. Lake Ziway, the shallowest lake in the rift valley chain of lakes which depth 7m. Its extensive aquatic vegetation attracts a variety of water birds. Commonly seen and easily identified are; Saddle-billed stork, greater jacana, African fish eagle, darter, herons, darters and Wood hoope.
End of Tour |
Weekend Tour #2
Rout: Addis Ababa > Mekelle > Wukro > Abreha We Atsbeha > Gheralta > Hawzien > Negash/Nejashi > Wukro > Mekelle > Addis Ababa.
Duration: 2 Days and 1 Night
Code: WKT 001
Overnight: Gheralts or Hawzien/Lodge.
This trip will take you through the magnificent chains of Gheralta Mountains, home to more than 120 old-aged rock-hewn churches decorated with meaningful religious paintings and scattered throughout the breath-taking mountain cliffs. Trekking to these mountains and churches will test both your religious and physical strength. It’s designed to make your weekends extraordinary.
This weekend tour lasts two days and one night. It includes Addis Ababa to Mekelle flight, a direct an-hour-and-a-half drive to Gheralta, trekking to the wild mountains and churches, markets, sunset and sunrise bath, a camping night at the bottom/top of the mountains enchanted with local cultural songs and dancing, open air campfire, and a drive back to Mekelle through Negash and Wukro visiting the priceless treasures and flight back to Addis Ababa.
The program runs every weekend and can be easily extended, for those who have time and interest, upto 4, 5 and 10 days to explore the most of the mysterious mountains, the rock-hewn church of Mariam Wukro of Nebelet to as far as the monastery of Abune Yohanni of Tembien, Axum, Yeha and the monastery of Debre Damo.
Be part of our weekly tours and give meaning to your weekends.
Morning Flight from Addis Ababa to Mekelle (Arrival 8:30 am)
Drive Mekelle to Gheralta, on the way visit the church and museum of Abreha we Atsbeha, Silassie Degum and the beautiful Saturday market nearby.
Serve lunch in some shade and take a coffee break.
In the afternoon trek to Abune Yemata, the most inaccessible church in the world, and enjoy the beautiful sunset across the mountains.
Walk to a camping site. Dinner accompanied by a campfire and cultural dance. Overnight in a tent/lodge.
After morning sunbath and breakfast, visit to Mariam Korkor and Daniel Korkor churches. Serve lunch under some shade.
In the afternoon, drive to Mekelle through Hawzien. On the way pay a light visit to Negash Mosque, Wukro Cherkos, Wukro Archaeological Museum, and if time allows, Atse Yohannis Museum.
Fly back to Addis Ababa in the late evening.
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Weekend Tour #3
Awash National Park
Rout: Addis Ababa > Adama > Awash/Awash National Park > Alledeghi WIldlife Reserve > (Reverse tour back to) Addis Ababa.
Duration: 2 Days and 1 Night
Code: WKT 003
Overnight: Awash National Park/Lodge.
Highlights: Drive to Awash National Park to visit the immense wildlife and beautiful Savannah grasslands in the park and Alledeghi Wildlife Reserve.
Saturdays: Drive to Awash National Park
Pick up is at 7:30. Heading south down the Rift Valley, we turn east at Mojo for Awash and the Afar Region. We pass Lake Beseka (which has grown over the last decade, causing the Djibouti – Addis Ababa railway line to be raised on several occasions), and enter the Awash National Park to take a picnic lunch at the Awash River Falls. Leaving the park we come to the town of Awash. Just outside the town we get to the junction where the road forks, straight ahead for Dire Dawa and Harer, and left for Djibouti and the Red Sea. Some 60 km down this road, 40 km after the town of Awash Arba, you approach some new buildings, the new District Council Offices at Andido. The exit is at the edge of Andido – there is a large sign post – and 10 km on a good gravel road brings you to Bilen Lodge, which is situated on Elalaytu, a hill overlooking the vast hot springs of Bilen and the sea of reeds which fringes them.
In a shorter trip, returning to Addis Ababa on the second day, on arrival we could take a stroll passing through the patch of natural forest at the northern end of Elalaytu hill, down past some agricultural project buildings and on to the hot springs. On our way, we may bump into a family of wart hog, scurrying past with their tails erect like antennae, nervous dik dik, vervet monkeys (particularly around the project buildings) and mongoose. Less frequently seen are oryx, gerenuk and lesser kudu. You don’t have to worry about chance encounters with Bilen’s resident lions – if you’re lucky you may see them in the early mornings, emerging from the reeds to survey the world, and you may well hear them at night – they sometimes stroll through the compound of the lodge in the early hours of the morning, but they’re rather reticent and we don’t guarantee sightings.
There’ll be plenty of birds on the way; you may well see the following species: Black Scrub Robin, Somali Golden Breasted Robin, Nile Valley Sunbird, Lineated Pytilia, Yellow Throated Serin, Sombre Chat and Arabian Bustard. (If you are a keen ornithologist, you can ask for our Bird List in the area.)
Entering the springs and advancing to the middle, it is possible to stand on top of the springs and have a kind of gravel Jacuzzi, as the hot (but not uncomfortably hot) water swirls around your legs. From there we can cut back to the lodge.
Sundays: The next day we could do an early morning game drive – returning to the main road and proceeding north for a couple of kilometers, we turn right and approach the Alledeghi Plains, where at the right time of day (early morning or late afternoon) a variety of plains animals can be seen, including zebra, gerenuk, ostrich etc.
After breakfast at the lodge we can go and visit some Afar villages – most of the lodge’s workers come from the nearby village and we can wander round there, taking photos and seeing how the Afar people live.
A 10 minute car ride will bring us to the Awash River, and here we can arrange to have camels ready on which we can load cool boxes with soft drinks and a picnic lunch. There is a well preserved riverine forest, and you can trek here in the shade, and stop at a picturesque spot by the river for lunch.
After lunch drive back to Addis Ababa.
These tour can easily be extended for three more days to include Harar for the visit of Harar sightseeing, the Harari museum, Rainbow house, surrounding of the old wall and old village and market inside the wall. Evening Hyena man show.
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Depending on your arrival and departure time, the itinerary could be amended accordingly, for you to attend events and celebrations, if any, market days and cultural activities.
- Package Inclusions
- Appropriate size of reliable vehicle (with driver and fuel)
- Hotel accommodation of camping facility
- Entrance fees to all locations including local guide service
- English speaking Escort Guide
- Half-board (Breakfast and dinner)
- All applicable taxes
- Package Exclusions:
- Extra foods and drinks and all alcoholic beverages
- Camera and/or photo fees
- Items of a personal nature
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