Shiver under moonlight in the splendid Bale Mountains, swelter politely, slack-jawed in a Mursi village or silently savour the spotting of a rare bird. Known for its rich natural attractions, southern Ethiopia proffers captivating wildlife, scenic landscapes, great trekking possibilities and some of the continent’s most diverse and fascinating peoples.
The southwest’s Omo region has been called ‘Africa’s last great wilderness’, and is home not just to Ethiopia’s few remaining large mammals including lion and elephant, but also its last isolated tribes, including the famous Mursi lip stretchers and body-painting Karo.
Africa’s renowned Rift Valley cuts through the south and hosts lakes, astounding birdlife, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
East of the Rift, the Bale Mountains tower over the surrounding pastures of the Oromo people. Within these peaks is one of Africa’s largest mountain parks. The Bale Mountains National Park is the best place in Ethiopia to see endemic wildlife, including the endangered Ethiopian wolf. Trekking in the mountains, in the rain, among the heather, is fantastic.
The southeast’s Oromo are predominantly Muslim and two significant Islamic shrines are found here: Sheikh Hussein, southern Ethiopia’s most important annual Muslim pilgrimage site; and the mystical Sof Omar Caves.
Before putting the brakes on your northern journey to head south, know that travel here is as tough as it is astounding. We’ll only make one guarantee – it will be memorable.