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Hiking Wenchi Crater Lake, Ethiopia

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Green Lake

Wenchi Crater Lake is less than three hours by car from Addis Ababa, but is very removed from the capital’s din and dust. After a couple of hours on the paved way from Addis to Ambo, the route follows a dirt road which climbs quickly into the rural Ethiopian highlands. The surrounding slopes en route are steep and terraced in sections, with the occasional young shepherd waving to the passing 4X4. Although a beautiful ride, we were happy to arrive at the valley near the lake, as we’d soon be on foot and no longer at the mercy of oncoming cars.

The lake lies at around 3000 m (10,000 feet) above sea level in the crater of an extinct volcano in the Oromia region. After paying entrance and parking fees and purchasing the obligatory guide at the Wenchi Eco Tourism Association office, you drive uphill for a kilometer to reach the departure point. You have the option of hiking the 4 km to the lake shore on your own or descending on horseback.

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Path

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Horse

The downhill trek is full of varied greens on the hillsides and the lake’s surface. Local children joined us as our walk coincided with their chores. A few minutes of smiling and staring at us, then off to collect spring water for the house.

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Terraced Slopes

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Shades of Green

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Siblings

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Girl

After an hour and a couple of villages, a field opens to the shore and a small dock. Deber, an island with a monastery, is a 20 birr (1 USD) row boat ride and serves as an ideal lunch spot. The architecturally unremarkable church was not open, but a donation was expected/lightly demanded. Some goats roam the island and the local birds have caught on to the daily picnickers that visit Deber.

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Lake with Clouds

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Shore

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Canoe

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Church

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Baby goat

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Bird

While the views of Wenchi Crater Lake on the descent were dramatic, the highlight of the trip is viewing the sides of the crater – now lush instead of volcanic – from water level. As the population around the lake is no greater than 4,000, a few hundred meters offshore means a quiet environment (thus the location of the monastery).

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Island

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Steep slope

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - Boat Shot

The hike back to the parking area can be strenuous, but horses are available if you’ve had enough walking. Thankfully, every difficult hill is rewarded by a look back onto the stunning lake and all that surrounds it.

Wenchi Crater Lake - Ethiopia - House

Getting to Wenchi Crater Lake
You’ll need a 4X4 or an organized group tour to get to Wenchi. We used Boundless Ethiopia Tours for this trip and were very happy with the service, especially their flexibility. I received no compensation from Boundless Ethiopia Tours for mentioning them or for saying something nice about them.

{ 54 comments… add one }
  • Nathan May 21, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Great pictures, Dave! Ethiopia looks like a stunning place. When I eventually make it there, I’ll have to check this hike out!

    • Dave May 21, 2014, 3:47 pm

      Thanks, Nathan! Hope you can make it here before too long, you’ll love all the outdoor activities.

  • Calli May 21, 2014, 6:36 pm

    Wow, what a wonderful spot Dave, the beautiful scenery and that little monastery. Your pictures are beautiful as well, I love the colour of the water that you captured :)

    • Dave May 21, 2014, 7:11 pm

      Thanks, Calli! It’s a very photogenic spot. The color of the water changed every time a cloud passed, so it was really fun to photograph.

  • Christina May 22, 2014, 1:59 pm

    What a beautiful place. Would love to hike there too and to be honest. It doesn´t look like a crater lake. Would be great to stay in the house with the blue door. What a view!

    • Dave May 24, 2014, 12:48 pm

      A nearby lodge is building a small hut near the lake for anyone who wants to stay over – will definitely get on the wait list once it’s ready!

  • Brad Frankel May 22, 2014, 2:53 pm

    Great pics Dave, looks amazing and will certainly have to add to my ever growing list of places to visit 😉 – i especially love the boat!

    • Dave May 24, 2014, 12:49 pm

      Thanks, Brad! There were four of us, so we ended up in a larger row boat – would have loved a trip in one of the hand-made canoes.

  • Samantha May 22, 2014, 3:26 pm

    Stunning place! I used to sell it when I worked at an African specialist. It was strange when we suggested it to people they weren’t keen on visiting the country. I honestly can’t understand why?! Its a beautiful country, one I hope to make it to at some point..

    • Dave May 24, 2014, 12:51 pm

      Thanks, Samantha. It can be tough to break through peoples’ misconceptions, but there is a big reward for those willing to open their mind to emerging destinations like Ethiopia.

  • Margherita @The Crowded Planet May 23, 2014, 12:27 am

    Wow Dave, did I really need another reason to visit Ethiopia? this place looks absolutely stunning and your photography is wonderful. I loved the second last picture especially. Wenchi lake looks like a great day out!

    • Dave May 24, 2014, 12:51 pm

      Thanks, Marghe! Such a nice day trip and a good bit of exercise to boot.

  • Brianna May 23, 2014, 1:32 am

    I had no idea that Ethiopia had such green hilly terrain. I love the turquoise color of the water.

    • Dave May 24, 2014, 12:52 pm

      And this was in the dry season! By September most of the country is dark green and water-logged, so early October is an ideal time to visit. Thanks for stopping by, Brianna.

  • Corinne May 23, 2014, 9:11 am

    Wow…never heard of this place, but I’ve gotta go. It’s gorgeous, and those children! What fantastic portraits!

    • Dave May 24, 2014, 12:55 pm

      Thank you, Corinne! It was hard keeping an eye on the trail with such lovely scenery around each turn.

  • Looks amazing! And those kids…! I wouldn’t use horse though, prefer to trust my own feet :))

    • Dave May 24, 2014, 12:56 pm

      Hi Elena – There were some pretty big drops, so I wasn’t up for a horse, either. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Karen Warren May 23, 2014, 12:45 pm

    What an amazing place for a walk and a picnic. Not the way we usually think of Ethiopia!

    • Dave May 24, 2014, 12:57 pm

      The picnic was very relaxing and the hike helps you work up an appetite. Great to get so far away from everything.

  • Samantha May 23, 2014, 3:20 pm

    Amazing view and I love the color of the water – it’s so green! This is a hike I’d definitely love, it actually reminds me quite a bit of a hike I did in Washington surprisingly.

    • Dave May 24, 2014, 1:00 pm

      Washington, wow! Maybe it’s the flora present at these altitudes? Not what I expected when I started traveling in Ethiopia, for certain.

  • Illia May 23, 2014, 8:45 pm

    Beautiful country! I knew several Ethiopians – they were so kind and nice. Also, the seat for the horse is amazing, I’d love to have something like that in my flat. Thanks for a post! :)

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:25 pm

      Very intricate design on that saddle dressing – I would have liked to buy one for our place, too (not used, of course).

  • Nomad Revelations May 24, 2014, 12:18 am

    I love Ethiopia. great destination, friendly people and impressive landscapes. i loved your photos! great job. greetings from Rio de Janeiro.

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:28 pm

      Thanks, Joao! I’ve really been impressed by the country’s geographical diversity and history.

  • Christine May 25, 2014, 6:46 am

    Sounds like a lovely hike! Your photos are gorgeous. I especially like the portraits, so authentic.

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:29 pm

      The kids were really friendly, I’m glad they let me take their pictures. You can see how happy they are to make new friends.

  • Rashad Pharaon May 25, 2014, 10:50 am

    What a great post, it’s not every day I read about Ethiopia–I certainly didn’t envision it so green, right down to the beauty of that emerald lake. I would image it would be a perfect repose for someone seeking peace and solitude…

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:36 pm

      Thanks, Rashad. I’m constantly amazed by what I see whenever I venture out of Addis. So many great spots within a few hours’ drive.

  • Bob R May 25, 2014, 2:07 pm

    Another excellent hike suggestion, Dave. much appreciated. Your dispatches are doing a great job illustrating the wide variety of landscapes the country offers. And I really liked the colorful saddle dressing. :)

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:37 pm

      Thank you, Bob. I’ve got a lot left to explore, really looking forward to wherever I go next.

  • Emma May 25, 2014, 6:13 pm

    These posts have really changed my minds eye pictures of what Ethiopia looks like – would love to visit! :)

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:38 pm

      Hope you can visit soon, Emma – it’s pretty reasonable to travel around the country, just need to book that ticket :)

  • Rachel M May 26, 2014, 2:53 am

    Great photos! Ethipia is full of majestic mountainous terrain. Iv been to Addis Ababa on a short visit, and hopefully get a chance to visit again this time extensively.

    “The architecturally unremarkable church was not open, but a donation was expected/lightly demanded.” LOL!

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:40 pm

      That would be great if you can make it back soon, Rachel. Your Kenya travel posts remind me how much I want to get back there whenever possible.

  • Anna | slightly astray May 26, 2014, 3:45 pm

    Another beautiful post Dave! Wenchi crater lake looks so gorgeous.. and I love the portrait photos, and that last picture of the lone little house surrounded by all that nature!

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:46 pm

      Thank you, Anna! Living in that house would be quite the existence, wouldn’t it? I could use a week or two there once a year.

  • Adelina May 26, 2014, 8:58 pm

    Oh, I love that picture with the shimmery lake, the 2nd to last one. Gorgeous. When you think Ethiopia, you don’t think normally think of beautiful blue lakes. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:47 pm

      Thanks, Adelina – that shot was with my iPhone, if you can believe it!

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 26, 2014, 11:14 pm

    This is just beautiful! I’d never known much about Ethiopia as a destination but have seen a few posts recently about how beautiful it is – the scenery looks stunning!

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:51 pm

      Thanks, Shikha – it’s gorgeous and very cheap to travel well once you’re in country. I definitely recommend a week or two in Ethiopia to see the array of sites.

  • Bianca @itsallbee May 27, 2014, 8:17 am

    Beautiful pictures, I am now wondering if I should have a long layover in Ethiopia on the way to Zambia in October. I love the pictures of the local kids. Pictures like that always seem to make me smile.

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 6:55 pm

      You should do the layover! October is one of the best months here, as the dry season has just started and the country is exceedingly green from the rains.

  • Beth May 27, 2014, 11:15 am

    Lovely shots! I had no idea the water in Ethiopia looked so clear.

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 7:12 pm

      Thank you, Beth! The water clarity varies from lake to lake and in crater lakes like Wenchi it’s pristine.

  • frankaboutcroatia May 27, 2014, 8:12 pm

    Wenchi Crater Lake looks beautiful. That last photo is so peaceful. It makes me dream. Portraits of the kids are also stunning. But no time to lose for them, off to collect the water for the house.

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 7:13 pm

      The scenery reminds me of the high-altitude lakes I’ve seen in Europe – pretty surprising when I first saw it.

  • Aunt Linda May 28, 2014, 3:44 am

    Did you both really climb to 10,000 ft. That is very impressive! I think you can now claim that you are on an eco-adventure. Kili next? The photos, especially the children, are powerful.

    xx Aunt Linda

    • Dave May 28, 2014, 7:14 pm

      Thank you so much, Linda! Addis is over 7,000 feet above sea level, so this wasn’t too bad :) We would love to do Kili, maybe next January if we’re in this part of the world. Hope you and David are doing well.

  • Beth May 28, 2014, 11:35 pm

    Stunning! If I ever make it to Ethiopia, this will be on my must-visit list.

  • Ashley @ A Southern Gypsy May 30, 2014, 4:51 pm

    Gorgeous view and photos! This looks like something I would love to do! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

  • Eileen May 30, 2014, 6:46 pm

    There’s something so special about capturing people when they are in their element. Those photo of local children caught my eye – gorgeous colors ad composition well done.

  • Kelsey June 27, 2014, 1:17 pm

    Wow, I love a good hike with amazing views. Yet another thing to consider for our trip. This hike reminds me of a hike we took in Albania to a cave. Thanks again for amazing pictures and great information!

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