In The Land Of The ‘Lip Stretchers’

Posted On November 16, 2009 

Country Info

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia or Ethiopia (area: 11,26,829 square kilometres) is one of the most ancient countries in the world. It is a landlocked country situated in the Horn of Africa and is flanked by Somalia in the east, Sudan in the west, Djibouti and Eritrea in the north and Kenya in the south. The capital is Addis Ababa.
Geographically, Ethiopia is a land of great contrasts. The terrain ranges from the the rugged Simien Mountains to the Danakil Depression located at 120 metres below the sea level forming one of the lowest dry land points on earth. The elevated land complex in Ethiopia is divided by the Great Rift Valley and is surrounded by lowlands, steppes and semi-deserts. The diversity in terrain has led to variation in climate, soil, natural vegetation and human settlement patterns.

Southern Ethiopia

The southern part of Ethiopia is composed of the administrative regions of  Oromia, Somali and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regions (SNNPR). The region’s major cities/urban centres are Awasa, Arba Minch, Bonga, Chencha, Dila, Yirgalem, Mizan Teferi, Sodo and others. The human population density of this region is estimated at 133 people per square kilometre. SNNPR is home to over 45 indigenous ethnic groups who speak languages like Sidamigna, Guragigna, Goffa, etc.

Climate in Southern Ethiopia

Daytime temperature in this region ranges between 10°C to 40°C. The highlands generally get rainfall between March
and October.  April, May and October are the wettest months in the Lower Omo Valley.ethiopian wildlife safari

Wildlife Safari in Ethiopia

Like any other African safari, the Ethiopian safari is no less exciting. The wide range of altitude in the country has given shape to a great many distinct areas in the country, thereby encouraging the evolution of several endemic species, like Ethiopian Wolf  (also called Simien Fox), Gelada Baboon and Walia Ibex.

Safari in southern Ethiopia: Southern Ethiopia offers to the nature-lovers enthralling wildlife, beautiful landscapes, exploring options and last but not the least, some of the most fascinating people and culture on this earth like the ‘lip stretching’ Mursis and ‘body painting’ Karos.

Besides, the Rift Valley lakes like Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya are home to some of the world’s largest crocodiles. Fishing the big Nile Perch fish in these lakes is also another major tourist attraction. Also birdlife, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are found in the Rift Valley.

National parks and wildlife sanctuaries

Some of the most captivating national parks and wildlife sanctuaries that one finds while travelling from north to southern Ethiopia are:

Bale Mountain National Park

bale mountain national park ethiopiaOne of Ethiopia’s largest mountain parks, The Bale Mountains National Park is one of the best places in Ethiopia to witness endemic wildlife, including the endangered Ethiopian wolf. Also monsoon trekking here is an awesome experience.

Nechisar National Park

Loc ated close to the Lakes Chamo and Abaya, Nechisar National Park is home to Plains Zebra, Grant’s Gazelle, Dik-dik, the Greater Kudu, bushbuck, bushpig, Anubis baboon, velvet monkeys, black-backed jackal and Burchell’s Zebra besides several migratory birds like kingfisher, pelican and flamingo. The park also includes a stretch of the northwest shore of Lake Chamo where crocodiles assemble in large numbers to dry themselves in sun (the place is also known as crocodile market).  The city of Arba Minch (meaning 40 springs) is located close to this national park.

Omo National Park

Omo National Park is located in the SNNPR on the west bank of the Omo River. With an average 60 visitors a year, Omo National Park is considered as the country’s most remote park. There is virtually no tourist infrastructure available in the park. Besides over 300 species of birds, animals like Eland, buffalo, elephants, giraffe, cheetah, lion, leopard, Burchell’s Zebra are found here.

Mago National Park

Located in SNNPR, this national park has been intersected by Mago River, a tributary of the Omo River. To its west is Tama Wildlife Reserve while to the south is Murdle Controlled Hunting Area. The park is mainly composed of riverine forest, wetlands, grasslands and scrubs. Buffalo, giraffe, elephant lion, leopard, zebra besides hornbills, bustards, weavers are found here. Both Omo nd Mago Nation al Parks are known more for the isolated tribes that inhabit these areas.

Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in southern Ethiopia (Oromia region), this sanctuary is home to a range of unique and endemic species. Spotted cats and ostrich can be found here. The sanctuary is notable for its red soil and a wide variety of natural vegetation.

Lake Abiata Shalla National Park

This national park which is geographically dominated by two rift valley lakes, Abyata Lake and Shalla Lake (it has been named after them) is an important bird sanctuary in southern Ethiopia. The park is a breeding ground for white pelican and water bird species like cormorants and stork. Birds like greater and Lesser flamingos, Avocet, Ruff, Wattled Crane and Black necked Grebe are also found here. Acacia woodland is found in the surroundings.

Senkele Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in the Oromia region, Senkele Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the endangered antelope, Swayne’s Hartebeest.

Other important attractions in southern Ethiopia:

  • Sheikh Hussein

    southern Ethiopia’s most important Muslim pilgrimmage

  • Sof Omar CavesSof Omar Cave

    Located in the Bale province in south-eastern Ethiopia, sof Omar Caves are the longest caves in Africa and the second longest in the world. It is 15 kilometres long.

  • Lake Langano

    Brown in colour, the lake has a number of resorts around it. Water sports  are poplular here. There are wildlifes around the lake including hippos (rare), monkeys, baboons, warthogs, and a huge variety of birds. The lake is 200 kilometre south of the national capital, Addis Ababa.

  • Koka Dam

    Hydroelectric power station that lights up most of Addis Ababa. It is an important birdwatch place with occasional visibility of hippopotamus as well.

  • Melka Kunture Prehistoric Site

    It is famous for a prehistoric stone-tool factory. The place has sites dating back to 1.7 million years.

  • Adadi Maryam

    Located to the south of the pre-historic site, the church is a semi-monolithic one which dates back to the 12th and 13th century.

  • Tiyatiya ethiopia

    Unesco World heritage Site which includes 36 ancient steles.

  • Lake Ziway

    One of the largest Rift Valley Lakes, Lake Ziway is home to fascinating birdwatching and also includes little volcanic islands.

  • Debre Tsion

    This is one of the three monasteries located on Tullu Gudo, the largest of the volcanic islands in Lake Ziway

  • Ziway town

    A quiet, laid-back town near Lake Ziway

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