Hippos in Lake Awassa
A small boat skips along the coffee-coloured water, sending water spray into the air, only slowing down as it approaches the grass-green reeds sprouting along the vast shores, among which hippos hide.
As the boat comes to a gradual stop, thegrey hippos come out hiding, peering their Shrek like ears, and small shrimp eyes out of the deep.
As the boat is thrust side to side by the waves, more and more emerge from the reeds; some basking in the sun, others contorting and twisting as they swim further into the lake, spreading waves into the already choppy waters.
Lake Awassa is one of the best places in Ethiopia to see hippos.
The Fish Market
The small honda engine affixed to the boat tail coughs and backfires, propelling its nose in the air and its passengers back as it ploughs on towards its next destination, a local fish market found on the western shore.
On the way, two crocodiles appear in the distance, their gaping jaws exposing rows of broken yellow teeth.
The hustle and bustle of the market is palpable, with the din of locals haggling gradually increasing the closer the boat pulls in.
The boat again slows down to a gradual halt as a line of traditional fishing ships bop in the waves, weighed down by the morning’s catch. The fishing market has been in use for centuries, and visiting it on land offers an authentic perspective on how the locals live.
Passing by the pungent smell of fish drifts over on the gentle breeze, only leaving as the boat once again ventures onwards towards its final stop - a disused watering hole now occupied by a band of abandoned and wild horses.
Horse Watering Hole
As the boat closes in on the land, a heard of horses mount their hind legs, and gallop towards the relative safety of the tree line, a scene straight out of an Eastwood western.
Others sensing no danger, remain as the majestic pacers bask in the warm sun.
Although some of these horses are wild, many have been left here after retirement, enjoying their final years in relative freedom.
The tour comes to a close as the boat pulls away and returns to the dock in which it left, leaving the shimmering brown waters behind.
Local guides offer a variety of boat trips dependent on your itinerary and budget. Most bring you to the first few stops, with longer trips also featuring fish market and the watering hole.