The Asmara Road

The road which leaves Addis Ababa to the northeast leads finally to Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, hence its name.


The town of Ankober has long been the capital of the Kingdom of Shoa before Menelik II moved to Entoto near Addis Ababa. Except for a number of churches not much is left of this historic origin but the well-chosen site for a capital offers fantastic scenery. Situated at an altitude of 3000 meters at the top of the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley overlooking the Afar region it was the gate to the Ethiopian (Shoa) Highlands.

Ankober is found 170 km, about 3,5 hours from Addis Ababa, too much for a day trip. The Ankober Palace Lodge is a convenient place to stay and offers many activities in the surrounding area on foot, by mule/horse, or by car. Among them is a visit to Aliyo Amba, a marketplace where the farming Christian highlanders have been meeting with Islamic pastoralists from the lowlands for centuries.

As so many places Ankober is of particular interest to birders as some endemic species are found here, the Ankober serin being a very local one.


A little over halfway on the way to Ankober from Addis Ababa another site used by Menelik II is found. A small detour over a rough road leads to the little village of Koremash which has for a long time been used as a royal arsenal. Eleven, about 150 years old, buildings placed in horseshoe shape are remaining and are in use as a government center.

The reason to visit Koremash is for its extraordinary views high from the escarpment of the Ethiopian Highlands over the plains of the Great Rift Valley down below.