Awasa also known as Hawassa is a beautiful city located 270km Southwards of Addis Ababa, in the central region of Ethiopia and is found in the Great Rift Valley. It is a beautiful city, well organized, lots of culture on display and the people are very warm.
Things to do in Awasa:
- Visit St.Gabriel:
This is one revered Orthodox Church that is not only an art piece, but also a true beauty. In the Orthodox Church, women wear long dresses and are expected to cover their head with a scarf or shawl. The men and women do not mix in the church and hence, they also enter the church from different doors.
2.Visit Lake Awasa
As you drive to Awasa, you will see a major lake flowing for most of the distance. This lake is 16km long and about 9km wide. The lake is multipurpose for both residents and wildlife. It provides fish for all and sundry, is home to hippopotamus’, it is a tourist attraction, one can enjoy a boat ride on it as well as providing the local boys with a place to enjoy a swim.
3) Make Friends:
Here, I met and became friends with a guy called Demise who saw my challenges in trying to take selfies. He was very friendly and greatly assisted me in discovering Awasa as well as its people. As I always say, make friends on the journey, they definitely enrich the experience.Thank you Demise.
These ladies truly exposed me to their culture, especially song and dance.
I had been informed that if I wanted to experience some culture in Awasa, this had to be on my to visit places. The resort has invested in showcasing their culture and thus has an area specifically set for this purpose. I got to hear stories of old from “grandpa”, saw their traditional home settings as well as experiencing some of their lifestyle.
This Resort is owned by the Famous, World Reknown Marathon runner Haile Gebre Sellassie. The hotel is beautiful and has a great exposure of lake Awasa. It was great getting to enjoy watching the sunset from here and making friends with a hippo that kept bobbing its head , grunting and looking at us, I think to say hello. I only wish I would have met Mr.Gebre Sellasie face to face-anyone out there who can make it happen?
- Walk , walk, walk
Awasa is beautiful, very beautiful. It’s layout is organized, neat and the general mood calm and relaxed.The streets are clean and there are many neatly planted trees lining the roads. I actually highly recommend taking several hours to enjoy Awasa by foot which is what I did.
- Befriend the police:
Ok, this should be the general rule everywhere you travel .The police in Ethiopia take security and hospitality a notch higher. When I disembarked from the bus from Addis Ababa, the stop we were dropped off looked nothing like what I expected. The majority of locals did not speak English and thus trying to get guidance to locate my intended hotel was not bearing fruit. When I saw a police officer, I practically ran to ask for assistance. The police officer went over and above his call of duty, giving me a ride to the hotel which turned out to be quite a distance, scouting the hotel with me to ensure it was safe and he gave orders to the owners to ensure that both I and my property were protected, or they would have to answer to him. He even gave me his number to call in case I faced any hurdles during my stay in Awasa, how cool is that? Thank You Mr.officer.
- Crash Weddings:
Yes, I did and I am not ashamed to say it. I kept mentally whining that I wanted to see and experience Ethiopian weddings. Challenge, I knew no-one getting married and was about to resign to the fact that I wouldn’t experience a wedding, but God made it possible. Walking around gave me the opportunity to “crash” 6 weddings. I experienced a traditional wedding , a modern wedding, a Christian wedding, an Orthodox wedding and finally a Muslim wedding. The music, the dances, the clothes were a wonderful, enriching experiences .
Tip: Ethiopian weddings are mainly held on Sunday so, if you are around on a Sunday you have a high chance of seeing/experiencing one.
The below pub/ restaurant truly stood out for me and I am super elated that we stumbled upon it. I do not know its English name so feel free to use this picture to get direction to its location. It is a “local joint” and a place that freely exposed lots of Ethiopian culture to me.They normally have local entertainment, not sure if daily, but I confirm that they do on Sunday.
They offer local delicacies from food to drinks and the entertainment gets an A from me. I watched several dances from several tribes mainly from the South and let me tell you, those dances made me want to join an Ethiopian dance school the next day. These dances were from communities like Conso, Wolayta among others. I think I need to return and maybe spend more time in the villages, I believe I may get lessons there.
There are many accommodation options in Awasa, to suit all budgets. The first day, I didn’t like where I stayed though it had been highly recommended, solo backpacking challenges. I therefore moved to Kale Penison the day after and it gets a pass. It is clean, centrally located, secure, had a tv and was pocket friendly, a plus for budget travelers.
The road network is great and the scenery is beautiful. I travelled on the Selam Bus for about 4-5hrs from Addis Ababa and recommend them. They offer biscuits and water, on board entertainment, are new, clean, spacious and cost effective. You pass through savanna, then farms that are all green and healthy and then areas occupied by pastoralists. There are places you will see donkeys being used as a mode of transport showing a shift in lifestyles.
Awasa is truly an amazing place that I would highly highly recommend to all and sundry. Next off, I moved on to Shashamane, the land of the Rastafarians -read all about it and more on my Ethiopia exploits here:
Ethiopia 101: http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/ethiopia-101/