One of the many nice things about Addis Ababa is that it is smack in the middle of the country, giving you an excellent starting point to adventures around Ethiopia.If you have the time, you really should head out and explore Ethiopia because its varied landscapes and numerous people groups are quite astounding.
However, in this article, we’ll explore five places you can visit if you just have a day to spare. There is a lot to see, and something for everyone – from the history buff to the nature lover. Happy exploring!
Entoto Maryam Museum
The mountain of Entoto that towers over the city is home to some of the oldest churches in the area of Addis Ababa, and one of them, Entoto Maryam, is also home to a small, but interesting museum.
The drive up to the church takes about an hour, depending on traffic, and the road also awards you with a lovely view of the city.
The museum is home to Emperor Menelik’s royal crown and royal bed, as well as to numerous gifts that were bestowed to the Emperor from his peers around the globe. You’ll also find well-preserved royal robes and beautiful illuminated manuscripts.
The church itself is interesting for anyone who loves history, and close by you’ll also find the Emperor’s old residence, which is open to visitors.
The Scenic Crater Lakes of Debre Zeit
Debre Zeit, or Bishoftu, is a small town just 40 kilometres from Addis. This little town is home to seven small lakes, many of which are crater lakes.
You’ll find a number of lakeside resorts here, catering to different tastes and budgets. It’s a great place to just head out and take a break from life in the city.
Many of the resorts provide kayaks or boats so you can head out into the lakes, and most have swimming pools as well.
Lake Hora in Debre Zeit is also where you can witness the Irreecha festival, the annual thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people.
The town itself has a number of nice hotels and lodges if you choose to stay over. This may be a good idea if you’d like to do some birding as you’ll be there early in the morning when hundreds of birds fly around the lakes.
The Hike up Zuqualla
The impressive volcanic cone of Mount Zuqualla is visible from Addis Ababa on clear days as it rises majestically from the plains that surround it.
South of Debre Zeit, but still an easy drive from Addis Ababa, Zuqualla is a fun challenge if you like hiking up mountain trails at high altitude.
Once you reach the lip of the crater, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful change of scenery, as the dry heat gives way to a lush forest watered by the crater lake.
There are also several important religious sites at Zuqualla, including an Orthodox church dedicated to Kidane Mihret, and an older one dedicated to Saint Gebre Menfes Kidus.
You will not find many places to eat or refreshments here, so pack a picnic and carry plenty of water. The climb is not easy.
The Pristine Forest of Menagesha
Many of the forests that once surrounded Addis Ababa are slowly disappearing as the city grows and spreads. But Menagesha is special.
This lovely and refreshing forest has been protected since the 15th century! Some of the giant trees here are said to be over 400 years old, and they tower up into the sky, a sight for sore eyes when one comes from the concrete jungle that is modern Addis Ababa.
Menagesha is a well-organised park, and you’ll find nicely marked trails, one of which goes all the way up to the top of Mount Wuchacha (3,380m). The park is also a great place to see colobus monkeys, baboons, and plenty of birds.
You’ll need to rent a good 4×4 to get to the park headquarters. From there, pick a trail, hike, and enjoy the beauty of one of the world’s oldest protected forests.