Here, many birds, such as great white pelicans, saddle bill, yellow bill, storks, and kingfishers can be seen. Hippos can also be seen. A boat can be rented to visit one or more of the islands with their monasteries. DebreTsion is the most famous. It is said that in the 9th century AD, the Ark of the Covenant was brought here from Axum because it was in danger of being destroyed by the ferocious Queen Yodit “Gudit.” Indeed, the oldest written document about Axum has been discovered here on Tulu Gudo Island. The inhabitants of the lake’s islands speak a language related to Tigrignya (the language of the north) called Zay.

Lepis Forest

Lepis’s juniper forest can be explored by hiking or horse riding. The best part of the forest is the beautiful Lepis Waterfall, most powerful during the rainy season (June to September). The forest is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting several near-endemic (endemic to Ethiopia and Eritrea) species, such as the white-cheeked turaco and black-winged lovebird.

Skilled local guides and horse handlers prove invaluable for exploring the forest of Lepis. If wanting to extend a visit and spend a night or two, there is a community-run campsite traversed by a small river. If lucky, one of Lepis’s famous horseracing events might be experienced.