Addis Ababa -> Debre Libanos: -> Mela Kunture, Adai Maryam, Tiya Stelae -> Wenchi Crater Lake-> Menagesha/Suba Forest, Waliso -> Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) -> Lake Lagano

Note: Any of these daylong excursions can be expanded to accommodate the time and interests of the tour group.

1 Addis Ababa

On the morning after your arrival in Addis, our guides will pick you up at your hotel for a visit to the Entoto Maryam Church and for a beautiful view of the city. After that, we head to the National Museum of Ethiopia to see “Lucy,” the famous 3-million-year-old hominid discovered in 1974. Next we can visit the Institute for Ethiopian Studies (former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie), or the Goethe Institute (Gebre Kristos Modern Art Museum), or the Trinitiy Cathedral.

We drive through the Piazza to the visit the Saint George Cathedral, the famous Tomoca Coffee Roasting Company, the Saint George Gallery, and conclude our day at the Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa.

Overnight in Addis.

2 Addis Ababa to Debre Libanos

Approximately a two-hour drive from the city gets us to the Debre Libanos Monastery. This structure and the ruin of the original building, founded in the thirteenth century by Saint Tekle Haymonet, have an associated museum with the remains of 300 monks slaughtered in 1936 by Italian Fascist invaders.

Lunch will be served at the Ethio-German Lodge, which has breathtaking views of the Jemma River Gorge. A short walk over the Ras Darge/Portuguese Bridge over the Jemma River takes us to a wildlife area where it is possible to see rare, endemic birds and the Geleda (bleeding heart) baboon.

Overnight in Addis.

3  Addis Ababa to Melka Kunture, Adadi Maryam, Tiya Stelae

After breakfast at your hotel, we leave for Mela Kunture, about one hour out of Addis. This prehistoric site is one of the most important sites in Ethiopia. Within its four tukul-shaped museum structures, the human evolutionary process is presented through historic discoveries, geological displays, as well as archaeological, paleontological, and paleoanthropological exhibits. There is also an open-air archaeological park to visit.

A thirty-minute drive takes us to the rock-hewn church of Adadi Maryam, built using the same technique as that at the more famous site of Lalibela. Local tradition ascribes the carving of the church to 1106 when Lalibela visited there.

Another hour’s drive brings us to the stelae field at Tiya. Of the thirty-six obelisks on this site, thirty are carved with symbols. These are thought to be grave markers.

Overnight in Addis.

4  Addis Ababa to Wenchi Crater Lake

Wenchi Crater Lake is located a driving distance of two and a half hours from Addis Ababa, but a million miles from the atmosphere of the city. Situated on a high plateau, over 11,000 feet (3386 m) above sea level, the fresh air and the beauty of the landscape alone are breathtaking.

There are two islands in the lake, one of which has an ancient church on it called Cherkos. This can be visited by boat, if you desire. The forest area surrounding the lake is home to monkeys, apes, and gazelles.

Overnight in Addis.

5  Addis Ababa to Menagesha-Suba Forest, Waliso

The Suba Forest is in Menagesha, a two-hour drive from Addis. This natural forest is home to numerous plant and animal species found only in Ethiopia. Our walk through the forest passes by 400-year-old indigenous plants, such as the juniper and the podocarpus. Among the birds that live in the forest are the Abyssinian cat bird, the banded barbet, the golden-backed woodpecker, and the black-headed forest oriole. If we are lucky, we may spot some Menelik’s bushbucks.

In the afternoon we drive to Weliso to spend the day at the Negash Lodge. The grounds of the lodge, designed for observation and relaxation are filled with varieties of plants, hundreds of bird species, a variety of monkeys (vervet and colobus,) and the tiny klipspringer antelopes.

Overnight in Addis.

6  Addis Ababa to Bishoftu (Debre Zeit)

This small city—just thirty miles (48 km) southeast of Addis Ababa—is surrounded by seven crater lakes, beautiful natural landscapes, and spectacular flora and fauna. If you wish to partake, various water sports are available in the lakes. It is impossible to avoid bird watching, as the lakes are full of grebes, storks, herons, pelicans, geese, and brightly colored passerines. Some of the best lodges in Ethiopia are found here and can be booked for an overnight (or longer) stay, or you can return to Addis.

7  Addis Ababa to Lake Langano

Just 124 miles (200 km) outside Addis, Lake Lagano is a remarkable, brown-colored freshwater lake popular with swimmers, as it is free of schistosomiasis (snail fever), the second most common parasitic disease after malaria. Resorts and lodges are found all around the lake, along with Colobus monkeys, baboons, warthogs, and the rare hippo. Over three hundred bird species make their homes here, seven of which are endemic to Ethiopia.

Overnight in Addis.

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