There are more than fifteen crater depressions around the town of Bishoftu, out of which only five were filled with permanent water. One of these dry depression was later filled by diverting the woldecha River (tributary of the Mojo River) to form an artificial lake called Kuriftu which is being used for local irrigation.

The Bishoftu Crater Lakes were formed as a series of Volcanic explosion craters in the vicinity of the town of Bishoftu located 50km south-east of Addis Ababa at an altitude of around 1,950m.a.s.l

There is also another small crater lake called Ziquala located around 15km east of the town of Bishoftu filling the circular vent of the magnificent Mount Ziquala at much higher altitude.

Excluding the non-crater Cheleka swamp, the main Bishoftu Crater Lakes are Hora (Hora-Arsedi) or Bet Mengest) Bishoftu-Buda (Babogaya or Pawlo), Hora-Hado, Hora Kilo (Arneguade), and Kuriftu.

The depressions are surrounded by rims of ejected beds and are considered as explosion craters or maars. Circular shape and steep crater rims characterized these lakes. The diameter of the explosion circular craters ranges from 0.5 to 1km2.

The rim of some of the craters is slumped and triangular notches are common. The level of the lakes is generally below the surrounding plains. The main source of water comes from precipitation and surface runoff from their small catchments. Groundwater is likely to contribute a lot to some of them.

  1. Lake Hora Arsedi (Hora) – unlike the other lakes it is made of a juxtaposition of two craters. At the junction between the two craters the lake has a depth of 12m compared to the depth of 40m in the western and 26m in the eastern side. It is the oldest known lake resort in the area. It has a number of major attraction, which include bird watching and the popular Irrecha (thanks giving ceremony) celebrated at the eastern shore of the lake. Irrecha is the Oromo people traditional spiritual festival that is conducted once a year.


  1. Lake Bishoftu is a marvelous circular lake with steep crater rim. It is probably the deepest lake in the area with 87m maximum depth. The scenic beauty attracts many people from the surrounding town. The beautiful rocky steep slopes and the presence of resort hotels at the crater rim attract tourist and many people from Addis Ababa.


  1. Lake Bishftu Guda is slightly smaller than Lake Hora Arsedi but much deeper with maximum depth of 65m. It is located some 4km northwest of Hora. There are resort facilities around the lake. As compared to Lake Hora-Arsedi and Bishoftu, Lake Bishoftu Guda is less affected by human influence.


  1. Lake Hora-Kilole is sometimes called Lake Arenguade (Green Lake in Amharic). The green colour is because of the presence of algae in the lake. It is located 9km south of Bishoftu. It is a shallow lake encircled by a mountain ridge to the west and open on the eastern side. A lot of birds flock around the lake.


  1. Lake Kuriftu was created after filing a dry crater by diverting flowing river. It is very close to Lake Babogaya. It has fresh water. Fishes and water birds like ducks and geese are common. Close to it there is another filled crater called Dibi.


  1. Lake Cheleleka occupies a shallow depression surrounded by a plain which used to be seen as one drives on the Bishoftu – Addis Ababa highway. In recent years due to the expansion of settlement between the road and the lake that beautiful site of the lake is overshadowed. The size of the lake varies from season to season. During the dry seasons, it forms wide swampy area and there are periods when it completely dries out. The smaller Chelelka which is found north of Babogaya dries up between March and May.
  1. Lake Ziquala is located on a magnificent mountain by the same name some 60km south of Addis Ababa. This mountain rises 600m above the surrounding plains with an elevation of 2,989m a.s.l. The mountain is characterized by a circular crater filled with water forming what is known as Lake Ziquala. This lake is considered as holy water due to the associated history of the well-known Ziquala Monastery. The monastery is believed to have been established in the 13th century by Saint Tekele Haimanot.


Very little is known about the hydrology of this isolated lake as it is forbidden by the monastery to investigate the lake. According local people the maximum depth and diameter is 60m and 2,000m respectively.


Lake Ziquala is so quiet and is bounded by dense forest harboring various birds and monkeys. The rim of the crater is covered with juniper forest. Frequent swirling mists encourage a heavy growth of trailing lichens. Beautiful black and white colobus monkeys can be seen, adding yet another dimension to this picturesque place. Tourists frequently visit the monastery.


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