ABIATA-SHALA LAKES NATIONAL PARK & SHASHEMNE
Is a twin lakes of Abiata and Shala, which form part of the national park. Identical twins these lakes are not: Shala’s 410-sq-km surface sits within a collapsed volcanic caldera, and depths exceed 260m in some areas, making it the deepest lake in Ethiopia, while Abiata’s highly alkaline waters rest in a shallow pan no more than 14m in depth.
A typical visit lasts about two hours and starts with a drive (or walk) through the fenced land around the headquarters where semi-tame ostrich, gazelle and warthogs (almost certainly the only no winged wildlife you’ll encounter) live. Then you drive (or walk) 5km to an overlook of the two lakes, followed 3.5km later by a spread of gurgling sulphurous hot springs on the northeast shore of Shala where locals wash clothes and bathe. Another 7km takes you to the shrunken shore of Abiata to look for flamingos, which have increased dramatically since the fish die-off (because they feed on algae) and can be seen in flocks of thousands, especially from October to February.
This non-descript town is a junction town and is best known for the Rastafarian community called Jamaica and not much else. The land given to the Rastafarian community by Emperor Haille Selassie has been developed and is now home to the Twelve Tribes of Israel who follow the teachings of Jah. The community is not open to unexpected guests just passing through but do welcome anyone with an introduction or with the true intent of studying with them.