The obvious goal of any traveler heading to the west is Gambella, reached via dramatic descent from the breezy highlands into the sweltering Sudanese border region. Set on the northern bank of the Baro River, part of the Nile drainage system, Gambella is both an atmospheric and fascinating destination in its own right, and more-or-less the end of the road so far as public transport is concerned.
Before reaching Gambella there are different towns and cities which offer a great deal of attraction, which mainly are either natural or cultural.
About 18 Kms from Addis Ababa, the Gefersa reservoir is an important site to observe some endemic bird species not easily see in other parts of the country such as the wattled Ibis and blue-winged goose.
The Menagesha National forest which is located at a distance of 46 Kms from Addis is
dominated by tall juniper, Hagenia and Podicarpus trees. The most frequently seen mammals in
the driving truck are Colobus Monkey and the endemic Menelik’s bushbuck, but baboon and
common duiker are also encountered on occasion.
The small town of Ambo about 125 Kms from Addis Ababa boasts of its hot spring and a near by Crater Lake named Wonchi. About 30 Kms from Ambo this picturesque lake with great view from top is accessible in an hours drive. The Island monastery of ‘Wonchi Cherkos’ and also the Sunday colorful market are worth taking time in Wonchi along the road.
Jimma, the largest town in western Ethiopia and served until 1994 as the administrative capital of Kaffa is also another place of interest in the western loop of the country. The fertile hills of what was formerly Kaffa are probably where the coffee plant was first cultivated, and the area remains one of Ethiopia’s main coffee-growing centers.
The impressive palace built by King Abba Jiffar during the early years of his rule in 1870s still stands on a low hill at the former royal compound of Jiren. Lake Boye and Kofe swamp are ideal places for birders. Also the Jimma Museum, close to the public baths, where a selection of the personal effects of Abba Jiffar, are housed alongside some worthwhile ethnographic displays relating to the Oromo and other local cultures.The attractive highland town of Metu along the road to Gambella hosts the impressive Sor waterfalls which is located in the wild coffee farm.
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