Rift Valley Lakes - 3 Day Tour » Venture Ethiopia - Tours and Travel

Rift Valley Lakes - 3 Day Tour

  • Take a cruise on Lake Ziway to spot bird life, visit a remote island monastery, see ancient relics and explore secret caves
  • Visit Abiyata-Shala National Park to see flocks of flamingos that can reach up to 50,000 birds between June and September
  • Enjoy the taste of freshly-caught fish by the lake shore in Hawassa
  • Take a boat trip on Lake Hawassa to spot birds and hippos
  • See the mysterious stone Stellae of Tiya and the remains of prehistoric civilisation at Melka Kunture

The Great Rift Valley, which extends from the Middle East to Mozambique, passes right through Ethiopia, endowing the country with some spectacular features including a string of beautiful lakes.  Each of these lakes has its own special life and character and provides habitats for a variety of flora and fauna that make the region a beautiful destination.

This trip includes visits to two community tourism initiatives at Ziway and the Lephis Forest.

Day 1: Addis Ababa to Ziway

The tour starts with a morning drive of around 3 hours, out of Addis Ababa and south through the green Rift Valley to the lakeside town of Ziway.  After lunch, you'll look for birds near the shoreline marshes, before taking a cruise around the nesting grounds of Tulu Simbero, which means Bird Island in the local Oromifa language. You may also see local fishermen at work on traditional reed boats.  You'll then head to Debre Sina (Mount Sinai), and take a short walk to the monastery to discover the island’s history and view ancient relics and parchments. Afterwards, your guide will show you a cave system on the island that has served as a home to secret hermits, refugees, and villagers’ valuables.  Hiking through the island’s rare natural forest also offers excellent bird watching.  After leaving Debre Sina, you will then visit Wamecha, a community protected forest on the mainland, where you an take a short hike to the top of the mountain, which offers scenic views of the lake and surrounding areas.  Villagers used to use this spot to call to the people inhabiting Gelila and Debre Sina Islands.  Finally, you will return to a comfortable hotel in Ziway, where you'll spend the night.

Day 2: Ziway to Hawassa

Leaving Ziway, the tour continues south through the rift valley to Abiyata-Shala National Park.  Here, you'll get a guided tour of the park and see how the local residents live.  In the late afternoon, the tour continues to Hawassa, where you will spend the night after a lakeside stroll to see the sunset.

Day 3: Hawassa to Addis Ababa

In the morning, you'll see Hawassa's famous fish market and take a boat on the lake where hippos sightings are common, before starting the return journey to Addis Ababa.  The afternoon will include stops to see the mysterious stellae of Tiya, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the prehistoric site of Melka Kunture, where a new museum tells the story of the Rift Valley's long history.


 Services Included

  • An experienced professional English-speaking guide

  • All meals from lunch on day 1 to lunch day 3

  • All land transport involved in the itinerary

  • 2 nights hotel accommodation

  • Entrance fees and local guides for all excursions described

Services Not Included

  • Travel Insurance

  • Ethiopian Visa

  • Tips for staff

  • Miscellaneous expenses – alcoholic drinks, souvenirs etc.

What to Bring

  • Comfortable walking boots or shoes with good grip
  • Sun screen, hat, and sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • Light waterproof jacket
  • Camera and binoculars



This trip includes 2 nights' accommodation in tourist class hotels.  The exact hotels used will be dependant on availability but please remember that Ethiopia is a developing country and that accommodation can be basic in comparison to European standards. All accommodation is based on two people sharing a room. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same gender. Depending on availability, it may be possible to book a single room, although an additional charge may apply.


Group Leader & Support Staff

The group will be accompanied by an experienced English-speaking guide plus a driver and local support staff, as required.


Guidance On Tipping

Tipping should not be seen as something you have to do but in Ethiopia, as in many parts of the world, it is an appropriate way of saying thank you for a service well done. For each of your drivers on this trip we would recommend around £5 per day from the group, and for each of your guides around £10 per day from the group.


Upcoming group tour dates:

If you are interested in this tour, we can arrange dates to suit you so please contact us.



A tour for 1 person costs 45,157 ETB (836 USD / 769 EUR / 675 GBP).

A tour for 2 people costs 26,291 ETB (487 USD / 4482 EUR / 393 GBP) per person.

A tour for 3 or more people costs 20,002 ETB (370 USD / 341 EUR / 299 GBP) per person.


Please see the further details tab for information about services included.

A deposit is required upon booking.  For more details, please see our FAQ page, or read our full terms and conditions.

Rift Valley