The lovely city of Hawassa is located on the shore of Lake Awassa in the great rift valley of Ethiopia. It is 273 km south of Addis Ababa and has coordinates of 7°3′N 38°28′E. It is 153 Km from Arba Minch, 518 Km from Bahir Dar, 473 km from Harar, and 221 km from Adama. Hawassa also has two bus stations which connect it to different cities and an airport. It is home to Hawassa University and Industrial Park. Among the different tourist attractions the city has, Lake Awassa, the nearby hot springs, and Hawassa international stadium are the major.
The name of the city comes from the word “Hawassa,” which means huge in the Sidama language and was used to describe the large surface area of Lake Awassa. The lake is shared by the Sidama and Arsi Oromo pastoralists, and the area was known as “Ada’are – field of cattle.” The origin of this city goes back to 1955 when Emperor Haile Selassie wanted to use Lake Awassa for agriculture and tourism. A master plan was devised, and the city has shown fast growth since. In 1995, it became the capital of SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region). Following the formation of the Sidama regional state in 2020, Hawassa is serving as the capital seat of both regions.
As reported by the 2007 population and housing census of Ethiopia, the total population of Hawassa is 259,803. 51.4 % of the population is male, and 48.6% is female. 61.2 % of the population lives in urban areas.
The city has a population with more than half of the population practicing Protestantism. The next widely practiced religion in the city is Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, followed by Islam and Catholicism. There are also traditionally practiced religions.
Hawassa generally exhibits warm weather with seasonal variations. It has a wet season lasting from March to October and a short dry season from November to February. It is rainiest in April and May, with an average annual rainfall of 185mm (7.3 inches).
The hot season lasts from January to April, and the highest temperature registered is 33 o C (91 o F), occurring in March. The incredible season lasts from June to October, and the lowest temperature recorded is -2 o C (28o F) in December.
Hotels & Resorts
There are twelve hotels and resorts built on the shore of Lake Hawassa. These are especially suited for visitors who want to be close to the lake, and their services include motorboat rents. There are also several hotels throughout the city. You can use booking.com, hotels.com, and Agoda to book hotels and see their reviews.
Haile Resort is one of the most popular resorts in Hawassa. The resort has a restaurant, bar, lounge, and swimming pool. Haile resorts are known for their gardens and the wide range of services they provide. Spa, hair styling and manicure, fitness center, children playground, horse riding, cycling, table tennis, tennis court, and boat trip are available. They also provide currency exchange and free parking. Some reviews state the swimming pool is unclean, though they continuously improve their services.
This is the nearest you can be to Lake Hawassa. It is also very close to Amora Gedel Park, one of the top tourist destinations in the city. The resort comes with a fitness center, bar, lounge, restaurants, boating, swimming pool, table tennis, children’s playground, and free things: airport shuttle, parking, and bike. Being by the can fire and having a barbecue with loved ones is priceless.
The hotel has 63 rooms only so it is good to check for availability and book in advance.
Rori hotel is found on the main road from Addis Ababa, close to downtown. It has a bar and restaurant, swimming pool, fitness center, sauna, beauty salon, and plenty of rooms. They arrange city tours upon request. The hotel’s building design is exquisite and has good customer reviews.
South star is a 5-star hotel at the center of the city. It has a swimming pool, airport shuttle, spa, nightclub, bar, restaurants, lounge, meeting halls, and free parking.
Gezahegn and Elfenesh Hotel & Resort
Gezahegn and Elfenesh Hotel & Resort is a 4-star hotel in the city. It has a restaurant, bar, lounge, meeting rooms, spa, swimming pool, fitness center, tennis court, and free parking. It also has an awe-inspiring garden, making it an excellent place to stay and relax.
- Tel + 0935377070
Hawassa Airport (AWA)
Hawassa Airport gives one of the options when traveling to the city. It is mainly for both domestic and international flights. Though the most frequent flight is to and from Bahir Dar, the capital city of the Amhara region, there are also two to three flights a day to Addis Ababa.
Flight prices to major cities in Ethiopia (price range depends on cabin class and air time, 1 ETB =0.02 USD).
- Addis Ababa – 2407 ETB,
- Arba Minch – 5195 ETB,
- Jimma – 4,904 ETB,
- Diredawa – 5,184 ETB,
- Asosa – 5,675 ETB,
- Dessie – 4,979 to 51,37 ETB,
- Bahir Dar- 5,127 to 5,452 ETB, and
- Gambella – 5,635 ETB.
Hawassa University (HU)
Hawassa University is a national university in Ethiopia. It was founded in 2000 by the union of Awassa College of Agriculture (ACA), Wondogenet College of Forestry (WGF), and Dilla College of Teachers Education and Health Sciences (DCTEHS). The university is most famous for fields in agriculture and forestry. It has seven campuses, eight colleges, and three institutes in and around Hawassa city. It has bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. programs.
The main campus is located on the highway road from Addis to Moyale, on the eastern side of Hawassa city. The other six campuses are the IoT campus, the Medicine and health campus, Daye campus (125km south of Hawassa), Awada campus (40km south of Hawassa), Wondo Genet campus (in Wondo Genet Town, 25km west of Hawassa), and Agriculture campus.
Hawassa University Referral Hospital (HURH)
HURH is a tertiary-level government Hospital under Hawassa University administration. It has been in service of the Sidama region, SNNPR, and nearby Oromia towns since 2003.
- Tel: +910897999
Attractions of the city
This is a 16 km long and 9km wide Ethiopian Rift Valley Lake. It has wildlife of hippos and birds. It also supports the Awassa fish market industry. Other than boating, watching the sunset as it hits the horizon is one of the pleasures of the Lake.
Amora Gedel Park
Amora Gedel is the must-go-to the park of Hawassa. It is found on the shore of Lake Hawassa and is famous for its black and white colobus monkeys and giant birds. The plantations add to the value of the park and create fantastic scenery.
Hawassa International stadium
This is a multipurpose stadium of 60,000 people capacity. It is approved by CAF and has hosted international football games. Besides football, swimming, cycling, and running are significant sports in Hawassa city.
This is Hawassa, one of the touristy cities of Ethiopia. The major attraction is Lake Awassa. The most studied Ethiopian Rift Valley Lake. Tourists love to stay in resorts around the Lake to experience what gives Hawassa its essence. The city has a desirable climate, and the flora gives it a picturesque appearance. It is connected to other cities in Ethiopia by bus lines and air flights via Hawassa Airport. Hawassa University is one of the leading higher educational institutes in Ethiopia and makes Hawassa one of the top cities in the country.