The Rift Valley and the Cultural Mosaic of the South Omo
The southern part of Ethiopia is incised by the gaping kilometer-deep tectonic scar we know as the Great East African Rift Valley. Its acacia-swathed floor is dotted with beautiful lakes renowned for their diverse profusion of birds.
The ethnic diversity of this astonishing region embraces modern cities such as Hawassa and Arba Minch. The walled hilltop warrens of the Konso Cultural Landscape, the remote tribes of South Omo, the singing wells of the desert-dwelling Borena, towering Dorze homesteads, and ancient island monasteries are among the top things to do in Southern Ethiopia.
Here is a list of important attractions and unique places to visit with Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours in this area of the country.
✴ Lake Ziway's Tullu Guddo Island is where Ethiopian tradition says the Ark of the Covenant was stowed during the 9th century. Meanwhile, nearby French-owned Castel Winery produces East Africa's finest wines. If you are short in time, you can discover Rift Valley and Lake Ziway in a day trip from Addis Ababa.
✴ Lined with resorts and Eco lodges, Lake Langano, with its bilharzia-free waters, is both a popular weekend beach and water sport retreat and a great site for bird watching.
✴ Named after the two large lakes within its borders, Abijatta-Shalla National Park is an important water bird sanctuary, hosting up to 300,000 pink-hued flamingos at the end of the rains.
✴ Thought to be 5,000 years old, the rock engravings, a 15-minute drive from the well-equipped town of Dilla, depict a herd of around 70 cattle on a vertical rock face.
✴ The hilly 58km2 Senkele Swayne's Hartebeest Sanctuary is the easiest place to see the endangered endemic antelope for which it is named.
✴ South Omo is a unique cultural kaleidoscope populated by 16 different ethnic groups whose traditional ways of life include body painting and unique hair styles.
✴ The modern city of Hawassa (Awassa) offers some fine lakeside wining and dining and an abundance of aquatic wildlife. Awassa (Hawassa) is among the top destinations to visit on two days tours from Addis Ababa.
✴ The environs of Yabello Wildlife Sanctuary are the only place to see two ultra-localized Ethiopian endemics: Stresemann's bush crow and white-tailed swallow.
✴ The fortified hilltop settlements, terraced fields, and anthropomorphic grave-markers of the Konso Cultural Landscape have led to its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
✴ Nech Sar National Park protects a spectacular landscape of mountains, lakes, and forests and harbors 70-plus mammal species, as well as prodigious crocodiles and the endemic Nech Sar nightjar - the latter arguably the world's rarest bird.
✴ The communal 'singing wells' at Dublok are famed for the local Borena tradition of forming a chanting human chain to haul buckets of water from the well.
✴ Mago National Park still supports a wide range of savannah wildlife, including lion, elephant, buffalo, and various antelope.
Surma & Omo Valley Tribes
The South Omo Valley region is a unique place for diversified ethnic groups with their untouched culture. Surma & Mursi (both ethnic's women cut their lips to insert clay plates as a sign of beauty), Bume and Konso, the Geleb (Dasenech), the Bodi, the Arbore, and the Hamer are major tribes, dwelling in southern Ethiopia.
Check out our one week cultural tour to Omo Valley.
Lifestyles in the Omo Valley of South Ethiopia are as varied as the tribes themselves. Most Omo Valley tribes are experts on body painting, using clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on each other's faces, chests, arms, and legs. These designs are created purely for fun and aesthetic value.
Contact Merit Ethiopian Experience Tours for planning your private tour to Southern Ethiopia.
MERIT ETHIOPIAN EXPERIENCE TOURS [MEET]
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