Incredible lakes to visit in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is richest of its attracting water surfaces. This water surface includes lakes, rivers and some others. Here are some of the most predominant and attractive lakes that are recommended by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for visitors to visit.

Lake Tana

It is the largest lake in Ethiopia. It is located in the north-western Ethiopian highlands, which is approximately 84 kilometers long and 66 kilometers wide, with a maximum depth of 14 meters, and an elevation of 1,830 meters. The Lake is fed by the Lesser Abbay, (Gelgel Abbay) Reb and Gumara rivers and its surface area ranges from 3,000 to 3,500 km² depending on season and rainfall.

The 37 islands that are scattered on the surface of the Lake shelter fascinating churches and monasteries, some of which have histories dating back to the 13th Century. However, it should be noted that some of the monasteries are not allowed to women.

Among the most interesting islands, Birgida Mariam, Dega Estefanous, Dek, Narga Estifanos, Tana Cherkos /Qirqos/, Mitsele Fasiledes, Kibran Gabriel and Debre Maryam just to name but a few. Tana Qirqos is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant before it was moved to Axum in 4th century by the order of King Ezana.

A sail or cruise on the Lake is one of the most pleasant excursions for visitors to this region, particularly in the heart of the summer. Along the lakeshore birdlife, both local and migratory visitors, make this an ideal place for birdwatchers.

Bird lovers will not want to miss Fasilidas Island, which is especially famous as an important wetland. The whole of the Lake’s region and the Blue Nile Gorge have a wide variety of birds both endemic and migratory. The variety of habitats, from rocky crags to riverine forests and important wetlands, ensure that many other different species should be spotted.

The Lake is also known for its selection of fish, of which more than 70 percent are endemic to the Lake. Birds are also found aplenty around the Lake. Recognizing its natural and cultural importance, UNESCO welcomed Lake Tana to its Biosphere Reserve list in 2015.

Lake Ziway

It is also a freshwater lake, and it has five islands of which one is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant during 16th century in order to protect it from an Islamic warrior named Gragn as nickname. The Lake is fed by the Meki and Katar rivers, but does not always have an outflow; sometimes it overflows into Lake Abiata.

The Lake has plenty of hippos in it, and has a healthy population of birds. With large numbers of Tilapia nilotica, a fish that can weigh up to 1.5 kg, the fishing industry does well here and the fish are served fresh in many of the restaurants in the nearby town. The fish also attract a large number of water-associated birds, which can be seen in the reed-lined fringes of the Lake.

Lake Abiata

Lake Abiata is to the south of Lake Ziway, and to the north there are a number of hot springs which are important to the locals, and are also a popular tourist attraction. The Lake is saline, and has recently undergone a decline in water level. This has resulted in the loss of fish-eating birds as the fish have died, but an increase in algae-eating birds such as greater and lesser flamingos.

Lake Ziway

Lake Ziway further contains five islands dispersed on its freshwater surface, the largest being Tulu Gudo. Legend has it; this island was the hiding place of the Ark of the Covenant, the powerful relic King Menelik I brought to Ethiopia in the 4th Century.

Then in the 10th Century, when Queen Gudit, the then ruler of Axum, threatened to destroy the relic as part of her crusade to annihilate the rulers of the Axumite dynasty, the Zay people brought the relic to Tulu Gudo and it remained there for about 70 years before being returned to its home, Axum.

Lake Hawassa

Lake Hawassa is the most studied of the Rift Valley Lakes in Ethiopia, and it is a freshwater Lake which indicates that even though it does not have a visible outlet, the water must leave through a subterranean outlet. Set in a volcanic crater, it has an abundance of plankton and fish, and supports a large city of the same name that has grown up on its edges.

With a mountainous backdrop and beautiful vegetation, this is a beautiful Lake to spend a night by. There is also a dyke which was built to stop flooding, which is perfect for bird watching – walking along it, fish eagle, black-winged lovebirds, yellow-fronted parrots and Ethiopian oriole are a few of the many species of birds that can be seen.

One of the best lakes to fish in Ethiopia, the Lake is located 270 km to the South of Addis Ababa, and is the smallest of the Rift Valley Lakes.

Lake Langano

Lake Langano is located 212 km South of Addis Ababa. It is a sand beach, popular resort for swimming aquatic sports, sunbathing, camping and bird watching. The western side of the Lake is covered with a thin acacia while the eastern shore is partially covered by dense forest patches.

Just to the east of Lake Langano is the Langano Nature Reserve. This forest is filled with a wide variety of birds and mammals, with some being endemic to Ethiopia. Baboons, hippos, and warthogs are a common sight at this lakeside forest.

It is also one of the principal swimming harbors for the locals. Tourists also come here from all over the world to either sail or water-ski in the soft brown waters of Langano. Some swim, while others lie in the blazing sun on the sandy shore of the lake.

Lake Abaya

Originally known as Lake Margherita, Abaya is a red Lake located east of the Guge Mountains in the Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples’ State of Ethiopia. Sediment suspended on the surface of the Lake is responsible for the Lake’s characteristic red hue.

It is famous amongst birdwatchers. A breadth of bird species are found here, with white pelicans, black heron, and bright pink flamingos among the most common sightings.

The Ethiopian Herald May 25/2021

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