Jemma Valley

The Jemma and Jara are permanent rivers that flow through Northern Shewa Zone down from Were Illu, through Merhabete and then as the Jemma River into a large gorge beside Debre Libanos and Fiche. The Jemma joins the Wenchit before reaching the Abbay (Blue Nile) River.

By road and track the area is 180 km north of Addis Ababa. The Jemma and Jara rivers are mainly difficult of access, at the bottom of steep-sided gorges that have been cut through basalt to expose the underlying large blocks of limestone and sandstone.

The bottoms the valleys comprise gently sloping land, and the rivers have created gravel flood-plains of varying width. The altitude at the Jemma river-crossing is 1,300 m, and 2,000 m at the top of the gorge.


Jemma Valley and the surrounding area are well known for the bird watching tours. The main target for bird watcher is the endemic and range restricted Harwood’s Francolin and other possible to spot are; Banded Barbet, the Black-headed Forest Oriole, the White-billed Starling, the Red-billed Starling, the White-winged Cliff Chat, the White-backed Black Tit, the White-cheeked Turaco and Hemprich’s Hornbill. You will also see one of Ethiopia’s endemic mammals, the Gelada or bleeding heart baboon. (In the gorge we will see a variety of vultures - Lamergeyer’s, Ruppell’s and Lappet faced vultures.)