Two hour drive from Addis with the current roadworks (2009). Very attractive gorge. Rocky path down to the river bed.

Directions – Drive out on the Dessie Road to Sendafa (about 40km from Addis Ababa) where you will see a police station on the left.  15km after Sendafa turn right onto a good gravel road.  There is a sign, with a small cross on top, as shown in this picture. (If you have a GPS, the turning is at  N 9°10.769′ E 39°8.315′ ).

Signpost at turning to Ittisa

Follow the gravel road towards Ittisa.  After 7.5km you come to the edge of the gorge.  The road becomes quite steep for the last 3.5km to Ittisa, where the road ends.

With the current construction on the Dessie Road, you should not attempt this trip without 4-wheel drive.

Park next to the church in Ittisa.  This is believed to be the birthplace of Tekle Haymanot, the best-known saint in the Ethiopian church.

From Itissa you can walk down into the gorge to the river (about an hour down if you are moderately fit, and perhaps an hour and a half back up again).

See walk number 13 in the Ethiopia Heritage Trust guide for details about the church, the monastery, the church school, and the cave where Tekle Hymanot is said to have been born.

Kessem Gorge


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