The city of Awassa in southern Ethiopia is known for its lake that is surrounded by mountains and trees. Luckily, our hotel, the Haile Resort Awassa, was right next to the water. So it was the perfect way to get a last breath of fresh air before heading back to Addis Ababa after three weeks of traveling around Ethiopia.

Where to stay and what to do in Awassa. Ethiopia
Awassa

BOATING SAFARI IN AFRICA

Lakes in Ethiopia are always opportunities for enjoyable boat rides with a safari aspect – and this last one had a few extra surprises. For one thing it was a paradise for bird watchers. So we were able to pursue our passion for bird watching, which really began on our visit to South Africa a few months back.

We even got to see a couple of fish eagles diving in for their prey. Meanwhile, boat safaris on Lake Awassa are not limited only to two-legged creatures. Hippos also roam these waters, and several came up to close enough for good photos.

Where to stay and what to do in Awassa. Ethiopia

We ended our three-day stay in Awassa with a visit to the famous fish market at the edge of the city. Here, many vendors hawked fish by the water. There were also others who set up stalls offering fish stew and chili spices by the entrance.

Where to stay and what to do in Awassa. Ethiopia

THE FAMOUS FISH STEW OF AWASSA

“One of the stalls here is really famous,” our guide told us. He led us to a wooden stall that was still closed.

Pointing to this, he said: “This stall sells fish stew. People even come from Addis Ababa just to eat it. The old man who runs this place has been making the stew for years based on a secret recipe. It’s so good and reportedly so healthy that everyone here now calls him The Doctor.

That definitely sounded like the perfect lunch to us. So we hung around the market for an hour eagerly waiting for his stall to open. Unfortunately, The Doctor had not yet arrived by 11 AM and we had a flight back to Addis Ababa to catch, so we have to try that fish stew next time instead.

HAPPINESS OF ETHIOPIANS

Where to stay and what to do in Awassa. Ethiopia

I love traveling because it allows me to observe the life of a place. It’s very interesting to watch people in their routines and to observe new environments.

Also, taking a roadtrip is my idea of a perfect escape so I had three weeks of bliss. On this journey around Ethiopia, we were impressed by the sights we saw and the things we experienced. But most of all, I was struck by the happiness of the people.

In the remote areas, many walked long distances with the heat of the sun pressing down on them. These are not easy conditions at all. But such conditions never deterred any of them from smiling at us when we passed by.

Meanwhile, we found small street cafes everywhere. Many were far from glamorous. In fact, they were small, dark and messy. But inside most of these, people were happily drinking coffee while sitting on tiny plastic chairs.

Where to stay and what to do in Awassa, Ethiopia

Happiness seems to be in the DNA of Ethiopiansz. Our guide in Addis Ababa himself explained: “I need to dance and sing; then I’m happy”. And judging by the warmth of the people, there is a lot of dancing and singing in their hearts.

So I end this column with only one suggestion: Make your next stop Ethiopia. And read more about traveling around Ethiopia in Travelife Magazine.