Heading 275 km south of Addis Ababa leads to a tranquil lakeside city. It is the largest city in the Ethiopian Rift Valley, was once the capital of Sidamo region, and today it is the capital of Southern Nations and Nationalities People’s region is known as Hawassa. The Sidamo word Hawassa represents – extensive natural suitable for grazing – and the city is indeed affectionate.
Hawassa city situated at 1685 m in the Rift Valley and the main attraction of the city is the remarkable Rift Valley Lake that it embraces and known as Lake Hawassa. The 9000 ha prolonged lake set in an ancient volcanic caldera, is the smallest in the Ethiopian Rift Valley and it is nowhere more than 22 m deep.
This virtual tour is to strolling the dyke runs along the shore of Hawassa, which is covered with dense scrub and woodland. The dyke built to prevent flooding when the lake rises but at the same time serves as a good walking trajectory.
The footpath not only offers different kinds of spectacular scenes of the lake and the mountain behind it, rather the little traditional coffee shops and fresh fish eateries which are situated along the way offers the most harmonious atmosphere and an exciting opportunity for someone who really wants to experience Hawassa or part of ETHIOPIA besides the beautiful Ethiopian Rift Valley lake.
Starting by little traditional coffee shops adorned with traditional accessories – miniature archetypical of Ethiopia and Southern Ethiopian culture – are cozy and makes you feel at home in their very own unique ways. It is one of the best places in town to experience Sidamo Coffee in its own glory by the lakeside of Hawassa.
One couldn’t help noticing the interesting and entertaining Hawassa kids who sell traditional stuff along the footpath. Besides the eye catching sunhat they are wearing and selling at the same time, they offer different kinds of unique traditional accessories like spoon made of horn, traditional toothbrush (Miswak) and the colorful basket which Ethiopians use for shopping at the Market and it is called Zembil.
Getting back to the lake panoramas while strolling the dyke or sitting at one of the traditional coffee shops sipping the world’s greatest coffee brings beautiful water-birds, Hippos in a distance and of course fishermen on their unsinkable papyrus Tankwas (canoe).
Since Lake Hawassa teeming with tilapia, catfish and barbus, the tantalizing smell of fried fish that comes out of little fish eateries is another interesting feature that literally actuates visitors to stop for a while from walking along Lake Hawassa. The interesting fish frying pan, the prowling Marabous and the overall process of serving delicious fresh fish straight from the lake is so mesmerizing.
These little fish eateries do serve different kinds of fish related dishes which are admired by the locals like fish soup, raw fish, fried fish and so on. The delicious fried fish comes with the famous traditional Welaita convoy which is made of red chilli pepper, garlic and salt. The home baked corn bread really perfects the dishes they serve… So Delicious!
All in all, this is the place where the locals drink traditional coffee, eat fresh delicious fish, hangout, or drink beer, and watch the sunset disappear over the beautiful Lake Hawassa…
…and all this makes it one of the authentic places in Hawassa where a visitor can truly discover and experience ETHIOPIA!