Travel Destinations on the SOUTHERN Circuit

The Southern Circuit differs vastly from the Northern Circuit, not only in climate and landscape but also in the scope of its attractions. Where the Northern Circuit is dominated by sites of historical interest, the Southern Circuit is known mainly for its fascinating cultural landscape. Southern Ethiopia, more specifically the Omo Valley, is a melting pot of culture and tribal diversity. The tribes of the Omo Valley still observe their ancient traditions, seemingly unaffected by the modern world.

The Omo Valley has also been recognized for its paleontological discoveries, which led to the Lower Omo Valley being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Beyond its cultural and historical attractions, the Southern Circuit is a nature lover’s paradise. More reminiscent of sub-Saharan Africa, the scenery largely comprises vast savannas and acacia woodlands. The Omo River, which extends nearly 1,000 kilometers to Lake Turkana, on the Kenyan border, creates a fertile green belt that bisects the lowlands.  Furthermore, the East African Rift Valley, which also runs through southern Ethiopia, marks its presence with an abundance of rift valley lakes that teem with birds and wildlife. The Southern Circuit also features Ethiopia’s biggest concentration of national parks.

Some highlights of the Southern Circuit include:

  • A city tour of Addis Ababa – Ethiopia’s capital and the diplomatic capital of Africa. Visit the National Museum where the 3.5 million-year-old bones of Lucy lie, the Holy Trinity Cathedral, and the palace of Emperor Menelik I on Mount Entoto.
  • Explore Lake Langano, an African Rift Valley lake with beautiful scenery for nature lovers and birders.
  • Visit Arba Minch, one of the biggest towns in the southern region and gateway to the Omo Valley. Cruise Lake Chamo, the home of a substantial number of hippopotamus and crocodiles.
  • Meet the Dorze people, famous for their cotton weaving skills. They are also known for their intricate bee-hive-shaped huts.
  • Visit the Mursi tribe, whose women are famed for wearing large plates in their lips and ears.
  • Stop off at Turmi, home of the Hamar tribe. The women wear elaborately decorated goatskins and decorate their hair with clay and butter. Hamar tribesmen are famed for their bull-jumping ceremony, a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.
  • Visit Murulle, the area where the Karo people dwell. Scarification plays an important role in Karo body decoration. The Karo men are famed for the elaborate body painting they apply before important ceremonies.
  • Meet the Konso people who are famous for their terraced agriculture and for their practice of sculpting wooden totems called ‘Waka’ to mark their graves.
  • Visit the town of Yirga Alem, one of the main regions for coffee plantations in Ethiopia.
Map of Ethiopia with destinations marked in red

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