Langano & Abiata Shala

Swimming in red waters of Lake Langano, apparently the only bilharzias free lake in Ethiopia, was a strange experience. Very easy to get there from Addis, but you’d need to get a bus from Autobus Terra at 5.30am. I stayed in Bekele Mola hotel which is clearly signposted on the main road to Shashamene – opposite the main entrance of Abiata Shala National Park. You can walk for 30min to the hotel from the main road or pay Birr 10 for the cart if you’re lucky you see one. The best time to visit is Mon-Thu – you could be the only paying guest at the hotel. They’ll try to give you a room for Birr 325 per night and if this is expensive ask for cottage/chalet for Birr 126 per night.

Main entrance to Abiata Shala is only 30 min away but the National Park opens only at 8am (or maybe 8.30?). The best thing would be to get the ticket day in advance and start exploring not later than 7am the following day. If you arrive before 8am then be prepared to leave some kind of identification with the scouts and pay Birr 50 on your way back. I spent 5 hours walking through the acacia trees towards the shallow lake – birds, antelopes, Abyssinian Hare and some other animals will almost certainly be spotted. I decided not to go towards the shallow lake any further after arriving at some kind of small ridge (saw flamingos with my binoculars) and turned towards the viewpoint where both lakes can be seen. There are some adjacent cliffs 5 min walk which offers better views of the more beautiful lake. There were NO tourists that day and there were only two kids trying to sell models of the local huts/houses. You should be fine to take the 4km shortcut towards the main entrance – just follow your instinct or ask friendly locals for directions.

Goran Jovetic, London, UK

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