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The Rift-Valley and its Lakes

The Great Rift Valley

The reat Rift Valley, which extends from the Middle East to Mozambique, passes right through Ethiopia, endowing the country with some spectacular features that range from hot, dey, and barren places to a string of beautiful lakes.

Volcanic activity, which greatly contributed to the formation of the Rift Valley continues up to present times.

In Ethiopia, it finds expression in the presence of hot springs in many parts of the country, as well as volcanic cones in the Danakil Depression in the north-east.

Much further south between and far below the two escarpments, lie the glittering watery jewels of Lake Awasa, Lake Shala, Lake Abijatta, Lake Langano and Lake Ziway: Ethiopia's Rift Valley riviera.

Lake Awasa
The peaceful Lake Awasa lies with the town of Awasa on its shore. A gentle chain of mountains and a low plateaux surround the lake, opening to a wide, low bay in the south. Swampy bays are interspersed with volcanic rocks, sandy shores with bare rocky hills, and every formation of terrain imagionable can be found near Awasa.

The lake - around 21 meters deep and 62 kms in circumference - teems with a great variety of fish and, as elsewhere in the Rift Valley, many species of birds.

Lake Shala
A little to the south of Langano is Lake Shala. With a surface area of 409 sq. kms., the lake reaches a depth of upto 250 meters and is rimmed with jagged picks and imposing rock formations that give it a rather strange and mysterious air. In the south-west corner of the lake is the mouth of a small stream that winds back into the hills under a canopy of jiant wild fig trees and acasias.

Lake Abijatta
Roughly parallel with Langano, but on the western side of the main north-south road, is lake Abijjata - justly the most famous in its bird life of all the Rift Valley lakes. This is a shallow lake, only ten meters deep, lying in a gracefully curved basin of land set amidst low hills. Its alkaline waters attract flamingos in their thousands.

Lake Langano
The copper colored Lake Langano is 210 kms south of Addis Ababa. This blarzia-free lake is a popular resorts of swimming, acquatic sports, sunbathing, camping and bird-watching. Along the shore cliff dwelers and acasia inhabiting birds setup a noisy chater.

The 4000m high Arsi mountain in the east of Langano provide a lovely stage behind which the morning sun rises.

Lake Ziway
Some 160 kms south of Addis Ababa lies Ziway, the northernmost and largest lake in the chain which extends over 434 sq. kms. Its extensive acquatic vegitation attracts a variety water birds.

Five islans dot the surface of the lake; at least three of these were sites of medieval churches.

Lake Abaya
Lake Awasa
Lake Chamo
Lake Langano
Lake Abayata
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