Lakes Abaya and Chamo

Travel to Lakes Abaya and Chamo – Largest of Ethiopia’s Rift Valley Lakes

Located in the Great Rift Valley, east of the Guge Mountains, Lake Abaya is the largest Ethiopian Rift Valley lake with an elevetion of 1285 metres and a surface area of 1160 square kilometres. It was named Lake Margherita by the Italian explorer Vittorio Bottego, the first European to visit the lake, to honor the wife of king Umberto I of Italy, Queen Margherita.

The lake is fed on its northern shore by the Bilate River, which rises on the southern slopes of Mount Gurage. The town of Arba Minch lies on its southwestern shore, and the southern shores are part of the Nechisar National Park. Just to the south is Lake Chamo that overflows into the Sagan River, and that covers an area of 551 square kilometres with an elevation of 1235 metres.

The two lakes support numerous species of fish, including Nile perch and tiger fish, and hordes of hippos and crocodiles.

The shores and islands of Abaya and Chamo are populated by the Ganjule and the Guji, who both follow ancient traditions of hippo hunting.

Here in the plains between the lakes you can spot Swayne’s hartebeest, zebra and Grant’s gazelle. Also in the lakes you’ll find the fighting tigerfish, giant Nile perch, barbel, catfish and tilapia amongst others as well as Nile crocodiles.

The lakes offer fantastic fishing and bird watching opportunities. Birds that you may spot include kingfishers, pelicans, storks, ibises, hornbills and cormorants.

Relax by trying your hand at fishing or by simply exploring the plains and forested areas.

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