The Great Rift Valley, funnelled between two dramatic escarpments, contains the chain of lakes from the Red Sea in the northeast, forming the Danakil Depression, to Lake Turkana on the Kenyan border. The six main lakes are Ziway, Abiata, Shala, Langano (the only lake safe for swimming), Abaya and Chamo. Abiata and Chamo formed during the last Ice Age.
Hotter, and lower, than the highlands most of the lake region, from Ziway to Arba Minch (Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo) is rarely uncomfortably hot. Lake Awassa is also a Rift Valley lake, somewhat smaller than the others but is stunning and teeming with birdlife. Awassa also has a fabulous early morning fish market, full of activity; you can even buy local savouries for breakfast.
The lakes host wonderful bird life and for this reason are popular with bird watchers and hikers alike. The Abiata-Shala National Park is right on the doorstep. Mouth-watering fish dishes like, asa-wat or lublub are welcome meals at the end of a day. Boating trips in search of crocodiles and hippos are also available.