Lake Ziway at a glance
Lake Ziway is the largest of the northern Rift Valley lakes, with a surface area of over 440 square kilometres.
Dotted along the lake a range of islands, all varying in size, can be found.
One of the most famous is Tulu Gudo, the largest island. It is famed for once acting as the hiding place of the Ark of the Covenant - or so the story goes.
Gudo’s Maryan Tsion monastery boasts a number of manuscripts dating back over 1,000 years.
The Ark of the Covenant
Despite featuring in multiple Hollywood blockbusters, the truth behind the Ark of the Covenant is steeped in a thick layer of mystery, thicker than the hippos living upon the island's shore.
According to local folklore, a distant king summoned the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon to show the power of the ark. After seeing its destructive powers, they agreed to keep it as far away from humans hands as possible. The location chosen was the Island of Tulu Gudo, and there it was laid to rest for over 70 years before it was finally transferred to Axum.
You can still see the very place it was held. A modest small tomb, with a small indentation where the Ark was kept. The monastery still holds over 80 manuscripts and countless relics, some dating back well over 1000 years and are said to have accompanied the Ark on its long journey to the island.
Wildlife at Lake Ziway
Peaking above the shimmering surface, grey hippos often retreat to the lake to cool off and can be seen splashing in the waves during boat trips through the area.
Fishermen trawl the waters in search for tilapia fish, a local delicacy found amongst the wide variety of aquatic life swimming deep within the lake.
On dry land, indigenous bird species nest upon the lake's various islands, shoreline, and neighbouring forests. Some of the more popular include the brightly feathered Yellow Fronted Parrot, the almost luminous Black-winged Lovebird, and the Thick-billed Raven.
Other more reclusive animals include the Sacred Ibis and Hammer Kop.
Popular Trips Including Lake Ziway
Rift Valley and Bale Mountains
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Rift Valley Road Trip
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Highlights of the North and South
The classic northern trail extends south into the Omo Valley, passing through the Rift Valley Lakes and highland peaks of the Bale Mountains. A once in a lifetime adventure combining the very best that Ethiopia has to offer.…
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Birds of the Rift Valley and Southern Highlands
Discover the extraordinary bird life in Ethiopia that includes dozens of endemic species. Explore the national parks, rift valley lakes, and highland peaks and valleys that make Ethiopia a world-class birding destination. Boutique and eco lodges place you in the…
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Cultural and Natural South
Combining the best that Ethiopia has to offer south of Addis Ababa, this two-week odyssey takes you to the farthest corners of the Omo Valley, through the verdant forests of the Bale Mountains, and across the lakes of the Great…
- 13 Days