Shashemene is the home to a small Rastafarian community living on land donated by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1948, but other than a couple of signs and shops on the edge of town you wouldn’t know anything about it being there. From Shashemene it was a short bus ride to Awasa where I met up with a few volunteers working there.
Awasa has probably been my favourite place in the country so far. Located on the edge of Lake Awasa, with palm trees, plentiful restaurants and teeming with wildlife, it feels like a holiday resort, and is a popular place for Ethiopians to visit. A few days were spent here enjoying the surroundings and on the last day a few of us went on a boat trip to see some hippos in the lake. I managed to also spot otters, kingfishers and the very strange looking marabou stork which likes to hang around the fish market on the shores of the lake. The locals like to eat the best fillets of the fish from the lake raw, sometimes dipping them in a local chili spice first. The rest of the fish is then fried in oil and sold for 8 birr (32 pence). The storks hang around and gobble up any leftovers.
Another highlight was climbing a hill overlooking the lake, where we could see the city set out on a grid design which helps add a feeling of order to Awasa. Below the hill we saw lots of monkeys, who seemed well accustomed to people and would come right up to you and say hello. After exploring Awasa it was a bus back to Addis Ababa…
Here is a video I made of the hippos in Lake Awasa.