Great Ethiopian Routes

 

The Rift Valley and the Cultural Mosaic of The South

 

The lush hills around Dilla, where nely executed 5,000 year old rock engravings and medieval megalithic sites pay tribute to Ethiopia’s long but often mysterious past.

Sparkling Lake Abijatta, its shallows crowded with up to 300,000 foraging amingos, all silhouetted in gorgeous orange hues before the setting African sun.

The evergreen forests that swathe the Rift Valley escarpment at Lephis and Wondo Genet, home to acrobatic colobus monkeys, multi-coloured parrots and comically braying hornbills.

The cultural kaleidoscope of South Omo, populated by 16 different ethnic groups whose traditional ways of life include body painting and unique hair styles.

Rough 4×4 tracks leading to the remote territories of localised avian endemics such as the bizarre Stresemann’s bush crow and Nechisar nightjar – the latter billed as the “world’s rarest bird”.

The fortified hilltop settlements, terraced elds and anthropomorphic grave-markers of the Konso, whose ancient cultural landscape is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

This is Southern Ethiopia. A green and fertile land of misty highland meadows and tall escarpment forests, bisected by the gaping kilometre deep tectonic scar we know as the Great Rift Valley, its oor dotted with beautiful expansive lakes renowned for their diverse profusion of birds. The single most ethnically diverse region in Africa, where modern cities such as Hawassa and Arba Minch provide a gateway not only to the Konso Cultural Landscape and South Omo, but also to the singing wells of the desert-dwelling Borena, to the towering Dorze homesteads that stud the highlands west of the Rift Valley, to thousand year old island monasteries… and much more besides.

 

Central Rift Valley Lakes

Renowned for their stunning aquatic birdlife, the ve freshwater and soda lakes of the central Rift Valley offer a host of other attractions. For swimming and the beach, Lake Langano, with its upmarket resorts, is a popular weekend retreat from Addis Ababa and great place to break up a longer southern safari. For those seeking a more urban break, Hawassa is a bustling regional capital offering superb lakeside recreational and conference facilities. For history buffs, a local community tourism project offers boat trips to Lake Ziway’s Tullu Guddo Island, where the monastery of Maryam Debre Tsion – established in 842 AD to provide temporary sanctuary to the Ark of the Covenant – houses a library of priceless ancient manuscripts, notably an illuminated 14th century tome vividly portraying 19 saints.

Inevitably, though, it is the lakes’ birdlife that most impresses: the larder-mouth pelicans and marabou storks that gorge themselves at Ziway’s main boat jetty and Hawassa’s lively sh market; the long-legged jacanas and pygmy geese that haunt the lily-covered bays, the parrots and sh eagles that nest in lakeside forests, and – truly one of Africa’s great ornithological spectacles – the hundreds of thousands of beautiful pink-hued amingoes wading the shallows of Lake Abijatta

 

Nech Sar National Park

The wildly beautiful and diverse landscapes of Nech Sar National Park include a dense swathe of groundwater forest bordering the town of Arba Minch, the twin lakes Chamo and Abaya, the spiky acacia scrub of the mountainous Bridge of God that divides them, and the wide open Nech Sar (‘White Grass’) Plains. A popular excursion is a boat trip to Lake Chamo’s so-called crocodile market, a stretch of reed-lined sand ats populated by some truly gigantic crocodiles as well as a few pods of hippo and a wealth of aquatic birds. Monkeys are common in the groundwater forest, while the guided walks on the Nech Sar Plains offer a good chance of seeing Burchell’s zebra, Grant’s gazelle, Swayne’s hartebeest, greater kudu and other large ungulates. Star attraction on the park’s avian checklist of 275 species is the Nechisar nightjar, Caprimulgus solala, which many regard to be the world’s rarest bird.

Source: Ethiopian tourism Board.


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Me encanta coger el coche y perderme durante horas por carreteras secundarias. Karateka en excedencia, escritor de obras amenas y en ocasiones, desternillantes. Informático 3 en 1 -diseñador, programador, administrador de red-. Padre, marido, taxista familiar. Criptomaníaco convencido.

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