Ethiotrail is an international trail race organized in Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley.  The race is the first of its kind in the country and will contribute to better protection of the park and improved of basic social services for communities living in and around the park. It covers 3 different distances, 12km and 21km (for running or hiking) and a 42 km marathon with 1,200 meters positive uphill.



In Abijatta – Shalla Lakes National Park located in the central Great Rift Valley, 200 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, 4 hours drive along the main road leading to Hawassa.


Why Ethiopia?

  • A land of runners: Ethiopia is home to many world class athletes and has a strong running culture.
  • Spectacular landscape: Ethiopia has an incredibly diverse landscape, from mountains and forests where waterfalls flow to epic plateaus and steppes, to barren wastelands stretching to the Danakil Depression, the hottest place on earth.
  • Abundant culture and history: Ethiopia was the only country on the continent that was not colonised during the scramble for Africa and this has kept Ethiopian culture intact. Ethiopia is home to the world’s oldest humanoid fossils dating back 4.4 million years.
  • Diverse tourist attractions: Ethiopia has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Africa (more than Egypt, South Africa, Morocco) with 8 sites.


What will you find there?

Great Ethiopian Rift Valley

The Great Ethiopian Rift Valley is part of the East African Rift which is the most fascinating geographical feature on the African continent running from Madagascar to Syria. In Ethiopia it has resulted in amazing landscape and a chain of lakes (Zeway, Shala, Abijatta, Langano, Chamo, Abaya and Hawassa) . Created due to volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, these lakes are known for their spectacular scenery and abundant, sometimes unique, wildlife, including the great white pelicans, flamingos, white-necked cormorant, hippopotamus, grant´s gazelle, crocodiles and various fish species.


Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park

Abijatta-Shalla National Park is situated in the Great Ethiopian Rift Valley, 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Addis Ababa. The park includes two of the main Rift Valley lakes after which it is named and it covers 887 square kilometers, with the two lakes covering 482 km. Shalla, which lies in the southern part of the park, is a 266m deep crater lake. Its surface is broken by small volcanically formed islands with large pelican and flamingo population and beautiful hot springs that bubble up and flow into the lake. In contrast Abijatta is a large brackish pan, more than 14m deep.

The altitude of the park ranges from 1540 to 2075 meters. The highest peak is Mount Fike, situated between the two lakes on the north-eastern corner of Lake Shalla.

The average temperatures range annually between 45 degrees Celsius and 5 degrees Celsius. However, in August the average temperature is 23-27 degrees Celsius: it is the best time of the year to visit.



Attractions in and around Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park


There are over 400 bird species, almost half the number recorded for the whole country. The islands on Lake Shalla are real birds paradise. Large numbers of flamingos gather here, together with great white pelicans and a wide variety of other water birds. Besides the abundant bird life, some mammals like Grant’s Gazelle, Oribi Warthog, Black and White Colobus Monkey and the Golden Jackal can be spotted at the Park.

Hot springs

On the shores of Lake Shalla there are a number of hot springs where hot steam, mud and water bubble to the earth’s surface – the remains of the massive volcanic activity that formed the landscape of the Rift Valley. The hot springs are mainly used as a traditional medicine by local communities and they also serve as one of the attractions in the park.

Lepis Waterfall

Lepis Waterfall is 35-40km from Abijatta- Shalla National Park and it is a bird paradise. The spectacular waterfall is 70m long and it is surrounded by a deep natural forest. The area is an ideal place for trekking and bird watching.

Rastafarian community

Less than 50 km from the park, in the town of Shashemene, there is a big Rastafarian community from Jamaica and other Caribbean countries that has been living there for more than four decades. The community practices the Rastafarian belief and they live in harmony with the local communities.

Wendo Genet hot springs

Wendo Genet is small town known for its spectacular natural hot spring where one can enjoy a bath in the natural hot springs and small hot pool. The area has a chain of small mountains and clear rushing streams. Trekking up in the surrounding forest gives a spectacular view and an opportunity to observe the abundant bird life, as well as the black and white Colobus Monkey.

Lake Chitu

Lake Chitu is located 1.5km south of Lake Shalla and it is home to a large number of aquatic birds particularly flamingos: up to 10,000 live on the Lake. They tend to congregate along the windward side of the lake where the algae they eat is concentrated.


Hawassa, the capital of the southern region, is found just 75km from the park and it is one of the most important touristic cities in the region. It is a medium size lake side city with many cultural and natural attractions.