Gambella

Gambella at the shore of the Baro river is the last city before the Sudanese border and it tastes Sudanese as well as Ethiopian. It has a subtropical hot and humid climate. Its inhabitants, the Anuak and Nuer are very friendly people. The Anuak are fisherman and mixed agriculturists, very tall and dark skinned, and they speak a language related to that of the Luo in Kenya. The Nuer came from Sudan and are smaller than the Anuak but also dark-skinned. It is interesting to visit the markets of the Nuer and Anuak in the town or to visit their villages outside and taste their culture and way of living. Or you can meet them near the Baro River where they come together for a bath, a walk or a gossip which is a colorful picture. It is a pleasant walk going along the riverside to see the old pier and steamship, silent witnesses of the industrious past of Gambella.

Natural Beauty

Near the village Matu the Sor Waterfall is a great attraction. The last kilometer to this waterfall you climb a track that leads you through a dense jungle with butterflies, birds and monkeys. Finally the track descend to a viewpoint near the top of a gorge to have a splendid view on the waterfall, plunging down 100 meter into the gorge, surrounded by dense forest. At the base of the waterfall it is possible to swim in the cold water. The Guder falls near Ambo can best be visited on Sunday because there is a dam upstream which will be opened only on sunday’s. Several routes lead you through a beautiful hilly landscape with dense forests where streams and rivers flow and waterfalls are plunging down. In this forests bird- and wildlife is abundant. Even along the roadside you can see many colobus monkeys. Take for example the road from Jimma to Gambella via Mizan Teferi or the road between Matu and Bedele. Also in the surrounding of Bonga is a huge potential for hiking. An area of natural beauty with hot springs, caves, natural bridges, waterfalls, forests with an abundant wild- and birdlife. There are also unexcavated historical sites and age old churches. From Bonga trekking tours with a guide can be organized. Not far from Addis Abeba, on the road to Ambo, is the 2.500 ha. large natural Menagesha National forest, the first known subject of an official conservation policy in Africa. Since the 16th century this forest is protected by the government. It is a beautiful forest with tall juniper and wanza trees. Some trees are over 400 years old. In the past around 40% of Ethiopia was covered with this kind of forests. Also this forest is a paradise for birds, and different endemic species. Wildlife is abundant – gureza monkey, the endemic menelik’s bushbuck, baboon, common duiker, leopard and serval. The Wenchi crater lake of mount Wenchi (3220 m.) is beautiful surrounded by forests on the steep crater slopes. In a village on the edge of the crater you can rent horses and a guide to accompany you down to the lake. The lake shore is a fine place for a picknick in nature, while enjoying the many water birds, monkeys and baboons. By the lake canoes are for rent to bring you to the island church of Cherkos and to the hot springs. Coffee plantations can be visited around Tepi and Mizan Teferi. It is a delight to walk on this plantations which are in fact forests where the coffee grows under tall, old trees teeming with birds, to protect the coffee from too intense sunlight. There are also interesting spice and fruit plantations and you can see the pulping and processing stations. The plantations have their own guesthouses. A tea plantation can be visited near Wushwush. It also has its own guesthouse.

Coffee Tours

Many believed that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee (not South America, which some believe). The indigenous coffee trees (which some experts say, are the only native coffee trees in the world) first grew in ancient “Abyssinia,” which is now present day Ethiopia. These trees blossomed in an area called “Kaffa” and the trees were called “Kafa,” which may as well be the root word for coffee. In the tenth century, coffee was considered as a food for the local residents. These people gathered the coffee beans from the trees that grew in the region, ground them up and mixed them with animal fat, forming small balls that they carried as rations on trips. Other indigenous tribes of Ethiopia ate the beans as porridge or drank a wine created from the fermented crushed coffee beans. By the 13th century, coffee’s restorative powers were well known in the Islamic world. Coffee was considered a potent medicine, as well as a religious potion that helped keep people wake during prayers. Pilgrims of Islam spread the coffee throughout the Middle East and by the end of the 15th century; coffeehouses had replaced mosques as favored meeting places. With the spread of Ethiopian from Africa, to the Middle East, India, Europe, and the Americas, make it one of the most popular bends of coffee in the world.

Jimma

This is the biggest and most modern town of the west with a green and friendly atmosphere. It was the capital of the kingdom of Jimma (founded in the 14th century) which became powerful by the trade of coffee and reached the summit of its wealth in the 19th century. The last king of Jimma was the powerful King Abba Jiffar (1878-1932) who built a palace in Jiren, 8 km. from Jimma. This palace is recently restored and can be visited daily . The museum has an interesting collection of traditional arts and crafts, fine woodwork and musical instruments.