Tucked away in Ethiopia’s Central Rift Valley, Lephis Forest is located four hours from Addis Ababa – just far enough for the bustle of urban life to fade into the slower pace of the traditional village. The forest is among this region’s most pristine and secluded natural wonders, with breathtaking views, endemic bird and wildlife species, and a natural waterfall.
The area’s diverse topography includes mountain chains, valleys and glades, and unspoiled highland forests bursting with unique flora and fauna. The resident wildlife includes leopards, warthogs, bushbuck, mountain nyala, colobus monkeys, thick-billed ravens, African white backed vultures, and blue-breasted bee-eaters.
More than 2,000 households also call the forest home and rely on its natural resources for their livelihoods. They understand the importance of conservation and wise use of natural resources and are currently seeking ways to use the forest sustainably while preserving it for future generations.
The Lephis Ecotourism Cooperative leads guided tours on foot or horseback, offering the perfect opportunity to discover this little-known region, the community, and the idyllic waterfall, which cascades down a lush green cliff face deep in the forest.
By booking a tour with The Lephis Ecotourism Cooperative, you will benefit the cooperative’s members and their families. The cooperative also reinvests a percentage of its profits into a community development and conservation fund to help preserve the forest for future generations.
RasRobeenTours recommends to either doing a half day hiking tour to the waterfall or stay overnight at the newly established camp site.
After meeting a local community guide at the Lephis Welcome Tukul, visitors set off along the Finchaa Trail on foot or horseback. The trail begins in the cultivated Forest Enterprise forest, giving the visitor the chance to learn about the Forest Enterprise, sustainable forestry, and local conservation efforts.
The then winds its way into the natural forest where visitors will encounter enormous, majestic trees that have now become a rarity in Ethiopia, as well as an impressive array of animal life including a number of endemic and near-endemic bird species, baboons, and moneys. Along the trail, the local guide explains the natural surroundings as well as the history and culture of the area.
Emerging from beneath the dense forest canopy, visitors will be faced with the highlight of the tour: the beautiful Lephis Waterfall. A break at this magical spot offers visitors the opportunity to cool off in the refreshing mist of the cascade, take pictures, watch for nesting birds, and enjoy the area’s scenic beauty.
If you don’t want to spend the night camping in Lephis forest, you would head back to the Welcome Tukul and continue your journey. Otherwise, you would continue your trek to the campsite. As dusk falls and the forest springs to life, there are increased chances of spotting bushbuck, colobus monkeys, nyala, and even a rare leopard!
Arriving at the campsite, visitors can use the well equipped kitchen to prepare their own food (with fresh ingredients purchased from the Welcome Tukul).
The following day, an early morning hike is the perfect way to view the forest’s native birds species, including endemics and near-endemics such as white-cheeked turaco, yellow-fronted parrot, black-headed siskin, wattled ibis, and Abyssinian salty flycatcher. A picnic lunch can be had along the trail, before heading back to the entrance of Lephis Forest.
Please contact RasRobeenTours directly if you are interested in visiting this area so that we can include a trip to Lephis Forest into a tour to Southern Ethiopia.