If you are in Addis Ababa and have a few hours to spare, take a day trip or a half-day trip to Mount Entoto to see a different aspect of the region. The peak is the highest on this mountain and overlooks the capital city. Legend has it that it is from here that Emperor Menelik II and his wife Empress Taitu saw Addis Ababa for the first time and decided to make it the capital of the country. The mountain is considered sacred by many locals and offers a fantastic view of the capital city nestled in its foothills.
A trip up to the peak makes for a great afternoon excursion, whether you want to get some real exercise while you are at it or just have a nice and slow walk. You can hike all the way to the summit or take a local taxi partially up the hill. Most people take a taxi up and walk down so that they don't get too tired to explore the attractions atop the mountain.
It is not simply the scenery that makes the mountain an interesting attraction. The peak is also home to Entoto Maryam church and Entoto Maryam museum from a small palace where the emperor resided as he built the capital and the Entoto Observatory of Ethiopian Space Science Society. Entoto Maryam is an octagonal church dedicated to Virgin Mary and built by Menelik II. The church was dear to the emperor's heart. He was crowned here in 1889 and became the head of the church later. It is an important site for locals. The museum houses a collection of religious items and ceremonial clothing from the Menelik era, including the rifle he used in the battle of Adwa, his crown, and even a mirror that was gifted by Queen Victoria to the Empress. The palace offers a unique glimpse into the history of Ethiopia's distinct culture and for a small fee, you can enjoy a guided visit.
The eucalyptus mountain
The mountain is densely covered by eucalyptus trees, which were imported from Australia over 125 years ago. So, it is not unusual to see local workers carrying large loads of eucalyptus wood down the hills and to the city to sell it or use it as a source of energy for their households.
The local brew
After your visit, take a breather and refresh yourself with a cup of locally sourced, fresh Ethiopian coffee at one the roadside stalls in the area.