Harar: Just past the Mediterranean style city of Dire Dawa is Harar. Harar is sometimes called Ethiopia's city of saints. Recently registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, people have lived around Harar since 20,000 years ago, leaving behind a priceless legacy of cave paintings. It came to be a formal city much later, around the 10th or 11th century AD, once it was established as a center of Islamic learning in East Africa. The medieval walled Islamic city of Harar is famous for its historical and cultural sites. The remarkable defensive, popularly known as the Jugal, was builtin the 16th century. The city inside this wall is the major reason for tourists to go to the city. The dominant features are the traditional Harari houses, the childhood home of Emperor Haile Selassie, the exciting open market with its medley of peoples and cultures, the Rimbaud House named after the French poet who lived therein the 1880s, and the hyena-feeding ritual. Harar's glory is in its ancient monuments, dominated by the 16th century Grand Mosque with elegant twin towers and a slender minaret. Harar has very recently been chosen by the National Geographic magazine editors as one of the top places in the world to visit in 2018.
Lake Wonchi (sometimes called Lake Wenchi): Described as a green paradise, found 157 km to the west of the capital, Wonchi Crater Lake is breathtaking. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ethiopia. The small monastery on the island, St. Kirkos Church, is said to have been built by Emperor Zara Yakob in the 15th century. Around the crater, enjoy a walk and find interesting bird-life and hot springs. Wonchi Crater Lake is surrounded by mountainous landscape and natural forest. This crater lake is situated at an altitude of about 3,000 meters above sea level.
Package Tours to Harar & Lake Wonchi
Day 1: ARRIVE IN ADDIS ABABA – HARAR Arrive Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, be met by Paragon Ethiopia Tours representative, and have some rest. After early lunch, transfer to the airport and take your short flight to Dire Dawa where you will meet your vehicles and then drive some 32 km to Harar, the spiritual heart of Ethiopia’s large Islamic community and which is considered by many Muslims to be the fourth-holiest city in the world after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Harar is the most pleasant city to visit in Ethiopia. Check in your hotel in Harar and then take short drive (some three kilometers to the outskirt of the city) to see the hyena man who feeds hyenas every evening there. Overnight stay in a hotel
Day 2: FULL-DAY VISIT HARAR Full-day visit Harar which includes the 90-odd mosques, any of them private, and said to form the largest concentration of such shrines in the world. In this activity, you will have also a chance to see the double-storey building constructed by an Indian merchant, Rimbaud’s House, the Harar Museum and Cultural Centre, the colorful local market, a traditional Harar house, and the lifestyle of the Harar people. Overnight stay in a hotel
Day 3: HARAR – DEBRE ZEYIT Drive from Harar to Debre Zeyit, famous place for its crater lakes. In your drive from Harar to Dire Dawa, visit the Aweday “chat” market in this drive. (Chat is a stimulant leaf which a significant number of people chew it here in Ethiopia and other neighboring countries). Overnight stay in a hotel
Day 4: DEBRE ZEYIT – HAWASSA In the morning, have a brief visit of the crater lakes and then drive from Debre Zeyit to Hawassa, beautiful and one of the most important lakeside cities of Ethiopia. En-route, visit the most important Rift Valley Lakes of Ethiopia; such as but not limited to Lake Koka, Lake Ziway, Lake Langano, and Lake Abjatta-Shalla. After arrival in Hawassa, do a brief sightseeing tour of the city and then enjoy your time at the beach. Overnight stay in a hotel
Day 5: HAWASSA – WELISO In the morning, visit the local fish market and the Tabor Hill from where you admire the stupendous view over the city. Drive from Hawassa to the small city of Weliso for your overnight stay. Overnight stay in a lodge
Day 6: WELISO – ADDIS ABABA – INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT This morning is dedicated to do excursion to Wenchi which is considered by most as “African Switzerland” for its spectacular mountainous views and the spectacular Wenchi Crater Lake. Here, one will have a chance to see unspoiled natural environment in addition to one of the most beautiful views (an extensive plateau covered in Afro-Alpine heather and moorland that surrounds the crater) one can’t find elsewhere in Africa. If you are interested, you can see the Monastery of Wenchi Chirkos the foundation of which is attributed by some to the 15th century Emperor Zara Yaqob and by others to the 13th century St. Tekle Haymanot. (IMPORTANT: This activity requires on average a 2½ hours trekking one-way. This trek is not difficult, but advised to have some early trekking experience in order to accomplish the distance more comfortably. The good news is that those who are not able to accomplish the distance and/or those interested only in horseback riding can take horse riding in this activity if you like. And lunch would be at Negash Lodge in Weliso. So, I hope you will never face any problem as far as this bit of adventure trekking is concerned. After lunch, retrace to Addis Ababa (125km), enjoy your complimentary Ethiopian traditional dinner at an Ethiopian cultural restaurant where you will have a chance to live Ethiopian music and dances, and finally be transferred to the airport to catch your late evening flight back to home.