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Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Bradt guidebooks to African destinations, including the guide to Ethiopia.
Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Bradt guidebook to Ethiopia.
Philip is the author of the Bradt guidebook to Ethiopia.
Lake Ziway is one of seven Rift Valley lakes south of Addis Ababa. Even from the shore, the birdlife is quite phenomenal. Big flocks of great white pelicans and squabbling marabou storks are a permanent presence around the jetty where local fisherfolk clean their catch. Take a boat trip in search of hippos and to visit the historical Tullo Guddo monastery for a rewarding half-day excursion.
Lake Ziway offers excellent bird watching. Great white pelicans bob around the fishing boats to collect offcuts in their large pouches. Malachite kingfishers patiently peer into the water for their next catch, African jacanas trot on lilies and black crakes nervously creep between the reeds. If you’re lucky you might see a black heron (umbrella bird) using the shadow cast by its wings in a unique fishing technique.
Lake Ziway is a shallow Rift Valley lake surrounded by volcanic hills. It is accessed via the town with the same name and, while worth a quick stopover, its real beauty is best appreciated on a boat trip. There are several small islands on the lake including Bird Island, a roosting refuge for the great cormorant and African darter.
Weather & Climate
The weather and climate of Lake Ziway is comparable to that of Ethiopia in general. More info:
Lake Ziway can be visited at any time and the birding is phenomenal throughout the year. However, Lake Ziway is mostly visited en route to southern Ethiopia, which itself is best visited in the Dry season months from October to January. From November to March Palearctic migrants flood the country.
Lake Ziway is located 160km/100mi south of Addis Ababa and is easily visited on a road trip to southern Ethiopia. The drive takes about 3 hours*. *Driving times are only a rough indication. You should always consider the possibility of significant delays.
Health & Safety
Please read our vaccinations and malaria page for Ethiopia, and our general wildlife viewing safety precautions page for more info:
Stuart is a travel writer and author of numerous Lonely Planet guidebooks, including 'Kenya', 'Rwanda' and 'Tanzania'.
Waders and wine
South of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the land tumbles sharply away to the hot, dry Rift Valley; a great gash in the Earth’s surface that stretches from Israel to Mozambique. The Ethiopian part of the Rift Valley is famed for its...
Easy trip from Addis making a great place to stay if you have a few days too spare.
An easy ride from Addis via Nazret by bus, although I came via Butajira. This means most tourists are local. A pleasant place to wander, with enormously wide streets which away from the main roads carry mainly horse drawn vehicles. The food...