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Melka Kunture, as it can be seen today, is part of a gently undulating landscape of the Upper Awash Valley, in the highlands of Ethiopia, at c. 2000m asl..

The archaeological deposits of Melka Kunture are a unique archive of human evolution, spanning over more than 1.7 million years, from Oldowan layers, to a very long and complex sequence of Acheulean layers, to Middle Stone Age and eventually by Late Stone Age layers. Accordingly, Melka Kunture can be seen as a laboratory for human evolution, where the requisites for trial and error procedures were naturally available, fostering the development of cognitive capabilities in humans.

Melka Kunture also is one of the earliest evidence of human occupation of high altitudes, and accordingly hominids are part of this landscape with mountain vegetation. Long before any evidence of fire domestication, early hominids of the Melka Kunture region had already adapted to mountain tropical climatic conditions, including great daily temperature range between days and nights, as well as some uncommon animal species. Accordingly, the record provides unprecedented evidence of flexibility and adaptability since an early stage of human evolution.

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
Day 1

Travel to Adadi Mariam

Transfer to Batu also known as Ziway (183km) via the southern route of the Butajira road visiting en route Melka Kunture, Adadi Mariam and Tiya. Our first stop will be the Paleolithic site of Melka Kunture with its open-air ‘museum’ and the newly built museums that houses Acheulean and Middle Stone Age lithic tools, fossils and artifacts across the Awash River 50km from the capital. About 5km south of Melka Kunture we will make a short detour to the west to visit the 12th century rock-hewn church of Adadi Mariam believed to be built by King Lalibela. Transfer back to the main road and continue south to Tiya town stopping for lunch before exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tiya Stelae with its carved swords and various unique enigmatic symbols. Late afternoon, continue onto Batu (Ziway) for an overnight stay. Overnight in a hotel

Day 2

A boat ride

After breakfast we will have a boat ride on Haro Dembel (Lake Ziway) to spot aquatic life including Hippos and birds. Then, we will have a short walk to visit the old-age monastery on the Island of Tulu Gudo or Debre Tsion believed to be a retreating place for the Ark of the Covenant for years. Then, we will have an opportunity to visit a winery with experts. Late afternoon, we will return to Addis Ababa.


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Melka Kunture, Adadi Mariam, Tiya and Batu

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