The south of Ethiopia is characterized by one of earth's most amazing natural wonders - the African Great Rift Valley. The rift that runs through southern Ethiopia has created numerous lakes fringed by forests teeming with birdlife.
Highlights of southern Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Rift Valley region include Omo National Park, Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park, Arba Minch, Hawasa, Lakes Abaya and Chamo, Mago National Park, Nechisar National Park, Senkele Sanctuary, Yabello Sanctuary and Jinka.
The Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes form the northernmost section of the African Rift Valley. In central Ethiopia, the Great Rift Valley splits the Ethiopian highlands into northern and southern halves, and the Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes occupy the floor of the rift valley between the two highlands. Most of the Ethiopian Rift Valley lakes do not have an outlet and as such form small pockets of water in the land which the local people have come to live off.
Arba Minch, located near the shores of Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya (the longest rift valley lake in Ethiopia), is the biggest town in the region and just outside Netch Sar National Park. The town is very attractive, as is the surrounding geography. Lake Abaya is divided from Lake Chamo with a hill known as “the bridge of heaven”, due to the wonderful views from the top.
Around the rivers and lakes you will find the Ganjulle and Gujji tribes, who live primarily from the resources these lakes provide. Crocodile populations are high and the crocodile market at the mouth of the Kulfo River is an incredible sight to visit, as is the crocodile farm on the shores of Lake Abaya.
This area has a great abundance of bird life and you will find a multitude of species from savannah to water bird species, reflecting the different habitats within the park. Due to the volcanic origin of the region, you also find natural hot springs and spas around Arba Minch.
Netch Sar National Park is ideal for game drives, while Lake Abaya offers excellent boat safaris. There are a number of hiking routes in the region as well.