The closest tract of significant indigenous forest to Addis Ababa, 20km west of the capital, Menagesha incorporates 25 square kilometres of juniper, African redwood and yellowwood trees, as well as Mount Wechecha, an extinct volcano that rises to 3385m. The forest can be explored along a network of hiking and 4×4 trails (ranging from a few hundred metres to almost 10km in length) that fan out from the forestry headquarters 15km from the small town of Sebeta. Wildlife includes the striking guereza monkey, endemic Menelik’s bushbuck and bold Anubis baboon, all frequently seen by hikers, and predators include leopard and serval cat. Menagesha is also a particularly important site for endemic forest birds such as the yellow-fronted parrot, Abyssinian woodpecker and Abyssinian catbird, as well as the colourful Narina trogon and white-cheeked turaco, which are also likely to be seen.
The forest has been accorded some sort of protection since the fifteenth century, initially by imperial decree, more recently through formal legislation. It was established by Emperor Zara Yaqob, who ordered seedlings to be planted on Wechecha’s denuded southwestern slopes.