Lake Ziway and its Monestaries » Venture Ethiopia - Tours and Travel

Lake Ziway and its Monestaries

Offering a fantastic mixture of nature and culture, Lake Ziway is a must for bird-watchers and hippo spotters.  Three of the lake's islands, along with parts of the mainland, are home to the Zay people who are culturally and linguistically distinct from any other group in Ethiopia.  They are said to have arrived more than 1000 years ago, along with the Ark of the Covenant which they housed on Tullo Guddo Island for safety.  Although the Ark has long since left, there are still plenty of monasteries, ancient manuscripts and relics to be seen.

  • Visit the island of Tullu Guddo ("Big Island"), home to approximately 900 Zay people, said to be descendants of those who came in the 9th century to hide the Ark of the Covenant
  • Hike to the top of the big island for spectacular views and to see the ruins of the original monastery, built using volcanic rocks and granite from the mainland.
  • Watch fishermen in their papyrus boats and weavers making shawls on wooden looms
  • Taste delicious fish, freshly caught and grilled
  • Visit the tiny Gelia Island, with forested slopes and a single house
  • Stop off at Debre Sina Island to explore the historic caves and see ancient manuscripts from the monasteries
  • Keep your your binoculars at the ready, especially as you approach the tiny Tullo Simbero (Bird Island) which is a year-round roosting and seasonal breeding ground for cormorants, egrets, pelicans and herons


Map of Lake Ziway and its Monestaries