Lake langano, Abijata ans Shala are perhaps the most popular of the seven (one lake is blue, one silver and one brown). Out of Addis Abeba 210 km. You can relax in a nice hotel if you like for a few days. The water of lake Langano and lake Tanganika (Tanzania) are free of bilharzia.
In the park around lakes Abiata and Shala it is possible to see flamingos, pelicans, cormorants, ibis, marabou storks and many other species.
Abiata is shallow while lake Shala sits at the bottom of a deep crater. In the lake you find 9 islands. Because there are not many boats allowed on the lake, it is a great breadinggound for a lot of birds.
Lake Langano is a vacation resort with pleasant beaches dotted with acacia trees; the water is coloured a volcanic pink but safe for swimming.
Lake Shala, the vulcano, around 90 to 100°C.
The largest of the five lakes, Zway, is 26 km long and 18 km wide. Several islands dot the surface.
Tall fig trees line the original shore, but in recent years the level of the lake has dropped to such an extent that several hundreds of metres of grassland and reeds come between you and the water. Marabou storks roost on the tops the accacias in the evening and many other birds have made the grassy stretch their feeding aerea: knob-billed geese, pelicans and an occasional saddle-bill stork. On the north side of the lake where the Meki river flows in lies Hippopotamus Bay. To reach the far shore or any of the islands it is necessary to bring a boat.
At certain times of the year the greatest congregation of birds is to be found here. However, before the next bridge, over the Horacallo river (connecting lakes Langano and Abyata) a turning to the right leads to the more usual area of exceptional bird viewing.
Thousands of flamingos create pink carpets in the blue bays of the lake; great white pelicans soar in from Lake Shala to enjoy the fishing and execute their fantastic ballet; pied kingfishers hover and dive; fish eagles protect their territory with their eerle cry; cormorants and darters fill the dead accacia trees silhouetting strange and beautifull shapes against the sunset. Here are tall marabous, sacred ibis, quell sometimes in the hundreds of thousands, snipe, stilt, avocet, and the black heron searching the shallow water in the shadow created by his black umbrella.
You drive in and follow your nose and the reasonably good track which leads first to a spectacular lookout point with a view over densely forested country and both Abyata and Shala. From here you descend the small escarpment and enter the acacia woodland which clothes the shoulder running between the two lakes. Birdlife is profuse: the bright yellow Masked Weaver, the red-rumped Buffalo Weaver, Red-billed Hornbill, African Fish Eagle, Didric's Cuckoo, Abyssinian Roller, Supperb Starling; the woods teem with flashes of brilliant colour and resound with birdsong. The track emerges at the lake shore of Shala where again a vast profusion of ducks, geese, coots, waders, shorebirds of every kind mingle with flamingo and pelican at the water's edge. It is possible now to make the tour of the lake (Shala) which is one of the more spectacular; on the north side a tumbling cascade sixty metres high, rushes from the rocky hillside down to the wide bay. Tilapia reach a fair size and can be cooked over the campfire at one of the beautiful campingsites along the lake. You will enjoy this lake less for its swimming; the water has a peculiar alkaline flavour - than for its atmosphere of untouched natural beauty and its splendid variety of shoreline and colour, and its prolific birdlife.
The soft brown waters of Langano are set against the blue backdrop of the Arsi mountains soaring to 4000 metres. A few birds make Langano their home, but this resort is less for the nature lover than the sportsman and sunworshipper. Here, you can waterski and sail, swim or bask in the blazing sun on the sloping sandy beach. European food is served in the hotel restaurant but the tilapia is good and cooking freshly caught fish over the campfire has its own special attraction. The local Oromo women are often prepared to sell jewellery or utensils; copper bracelets or brass; bead necklaces and cowrle shell decorated milk pots.