Debre Libanos Monastery
Drive north from Addis Ababa (about 100km) to the Debre Libanos Monastery. This monastery was founded in the 13th century by St. TekleHaimanot, who, according to legend, prayed for 7 years straight standing on one leg until the other leg fell off. Nearby the monastery is the Portuguese bridge, which was the first bridge in Ethiopia. Around this area, you will hopefully see some endemic gelada baboons. Short hikes are available in the area, with stunning views of the Jemma Valley. Return to Addis Ababa, late afternoon.
Early morning, depart south from Addis Ababa to Lake Ziway, one of the chain of lakes found in the Great Rift Valley. Here you will take a boat trip on Lake Ziway to the island of TulloGudo. The island hosts the church of Maryam Tsion which, according to tradition, once housed the Ark of the Covenant to hide it from invaders. After the visit, return to shore, enjoying the bountiful birdlife on this lake and possibly some hippos. Return to Addis Ababa late afternoon.
Archeological sites of Tiya, Adadi Maryam and Melka Kunture
After breakfast, depart south from Addis Ababa to visit these archeological sites of interest. Tiya is an ancient stellae field, with anthropomorphic statues marking burial grounds. Tiya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Adadi Maryam is a rock-hewn church, similar to those in Lalibela. Melka Kunture is a pre-historic tool-making site. Return to Addis Ababa late afternoon.
Early morning departure west from Addis Ababa to Lake Wenchi, a crater lake in a stunning location. There are many options for activities in the area including hiking, horseback riding or a boat trip to the island monastery of Kirkos and the hot spring valley. After the visit, return to Addis Ababa.
Depart from Addis for a short drive to Debre Zeit, home to several crater lakes and a popular weekend getaway spot for Addis Ababa residents. You can spend the day visiting the lakes or doing some light hiking (circling Lake Hora takes 1 ½ hours). The area is very popular for birdwatching. There are several lake-side establishments for lunch and even a spa. Return to Addis Ababa, late afternoon.
Very near to Debre Zeit is Mt. Zuqualla, an extinct volcano that offers beautiful views of the surrounding areas. Here you can visit the monastery of Mt. Zuqualla Maryam, which may date back as far as the 4th century. The nearby crater-lake is considered holy by the monks of the monastery. Time permitting, you may stop for a rest in Debre Zeit before returning to Addis Ababa in the afternoon.
Menagesha National Forest
Departing west from Addis Ababa, drive to the Menagesha National Forest for some hiking. Here you will enjoy the wildlife, such as the colobus monkeys and endemic Menelik’s bushbuck, as well as birds, including the endemic Ethiopian oriole and Abyssinian woodpecker. You can also stop at the Gefersa Reservoir, which supplies water to Addis Ababa, and is a nice birdwatching and wildlife spot. Return to Addis Ababa in the afternoon.
*An asterisk denotes a community-based tourism initiative. By visiting these sites, you are directly supporting the local community.