The road extending from Addis Ababa to the Southern region is really a paradise for people admiring culture and nature. About 75 Kms. from the capital, the road diverges in to two in the town of Modjo; one to the east and the other to the South.
The road heading to the South will travelers to the famed Omo Valley after passing different spectacular Rift Valley lakes. The first lake to come cross is Zeway, one of the shallowest lake along the chain of Lakes with a maximum depth of only 4 meters. The lake is prominent in shading the most delicious fish species and hosting five Islands, some of them being historical for having ancient and unique people and others for having monasteries.
The next twin lakes to be seen are Abiyata-Shalla. Both are grounds to admire different aquatic bird life and Shalla is the famous one being the deepest Rift Valley Lake not only in Ethiopia but in Africa north of the equator with 260 meters below sea level. Exactly opposite to the two twin Lakes is Lake Langano, a normally inhabited lake by weekenders of Addis Ababa. Having an out-standing view, it is the only Bilharzias free lake having brown-shiny color.
Driving 50 Kilometers from Langano is the town of Shashemene, a very hot commercial center and famous for being a home for the â€˜RasTeferiansâ€™. The continuing the drive the traveler will arrive in the town of Arba Minch an ideal place to start exploring the different tribal groups in the region and also have a Safari in the NechSar National park which is famous for Zebra and other mammals and bird life. The Dorze people, known for their cotton woven clothing and bamboo- made beehive shaped houses are easily accessible from Arba Minch. Also the crocodile market on the last stretches and chains of the Rift Valley lake Chamo which is adjacent to Abaya, the longest rift Valley lake.
Driving further from Arba Minch is the real place to explore the Omo Valley tribes. This part of the country is home to many diverse and fascinating peoples and culture: the Konso, who for centuries have
Practiced terracing and intensive agriculture in their steep land and are known for the eerie wooden totems they erect over the graves of the dead. The lower Omo Valley is home to an astonishing mix of small, contrasting ethnic groups- the Bume, the Karo, the Geleb, the Bodi, the Mursi, the Surma, the Erbore and the Hamer, to name only a few.
The Surma and the Karo, for example are experts at body painting-using clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on one another’s faces, chests, arms, and legs. These designs do not appear to have any special significance but are created purely for fun and aesthetic effect. Scarifications, on the other hand-also popular among most peoples of the lower Omo-does contain a number of specific symbolic messages. Mursi warriors carve deep crescent incisions on their arms to represent each enemy they have killed in battle. Elaborate hairstyles are another form of personal adornment. Hamer women wear their hair in dense ringlets smeared with mud and clarified butter and topped off with a head- dress featuring oblongs of gleaming aluminum; Geleb and Karo men sculpt and shave their hair into extravagant shapes, with special ochre of hair usually containing several ostrich feathers. The insertion of wooden and terra-cotta disks in to the ear lobes is a widespread custom. Mursi and Surma women also progressively split and stretch their lower lips to make room for similar disks there, too.
Interested in visiting the Omo Valley ? Please check available tour packages