During the scenic boat ride across Lake Ziway, passengers will enjoy observing native birds and local fishermen on reed boats. Upon arrival at the island of Tulu Gudo, visitors are met by local guides and introduced to the unique culture of the Zay people. Though just 900 of them live on the island, their culture and language are completely different from the surrounding Oromo people.
Visitors begin the hike with a short walk through a traditional Tulu Gudo village, ascending through the lush green hills of the island. Pausing for breathtaking views of the island and surrounding Lake Ziway, tourists will learn about the history, culture, and nature of the island. Near the summit of the island, visitors can see the ruins of the monastery where the Ark rested for nearly 70 years and learn about the Zay people’s link to the Ark.
Visitors then descend to the community-run, open-air restaurant where they can enjoy a traditional lunch of freshly caught and grilled fish, served with local vegetables and enjera, Ethiopian sourdough flat bread.
The tour continues to the Maryam Tsion monastery which is home to a fascinating collection of ancient relics dating back almost 1,100 years. The collection includes the beautiful Gedle-Kidusen manuscript, a parchment book written in Ge’ez, the ancient language of Ethiopia. The boat then departs for Bochessa where visitors may be able to see one of the lake's shy hippos, endemic birds, and the large monitor lizards that call the mangroves home.
- Seeing the place where one of the world’s greatest religious artifacts was hidden.
- Getting to know the Zay people – the ancient guardians of the Ark of the Covenant.
- Viewing thousand-year-old relics at the sacred Maryam Tsion monastery.
- Spotting native birds nesting on Bird Island.
Sample Itinerary - 7-8 Hours
- 8:00am: Depart from Ziway Jetty, stopping along the way for bird watching
- 10:00am: Reach Tulu Gudo and commence cultural hike. Break for refreshments
- 1:00pm: Lunch
- 2:00pm: Walk to Maryam Tsion Monastery to view relics
- 3:00pm: Depart for Bochessa
- 4:00pm: Hippo and bird watching in Bochessa
- 4:30pm: Return to Ziway town by boat or car
What to Bring
- Long pants or skirt - Visitors must cover their legs to enter the monastery
- Hiking boots or shoes
- Sun screen, sunglasses, and hat
- Insect repellent
- Light rain jacket
- Bottled water
- Camera and waterproof bag
- Gratuities for guides and extra cash for refreshments and crafts
To Book Directly
Manager: Firafes Nebi
Call +251 927 340 309
To Book through a Reservation Agent
Call: +251 550 8870 or +251 551 0168
For assistance arraning full tours including lodging and transportation book through one of the participating tour operators.