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The southern highlands of Ethiopia comprise lush scenic mountains bisected by the Great Rift Valley as it runs southward towards the border with Kenya. At the base of the Rift is a succession of five beautiful and very accessible lakes renowned for their scenic beauty and rich birdlife, notably in the spectacular Nechisar National Park. The montane highlight of the southeast is the hiker-friendly Bale National Park, home to a host of endemic wildlife, including the kudu-like mountain nyala, the rare Bale monkey, the world’s rarest canid in the form of the Ethiopian wolf, and 16 bird species. Lush montane forest covers much of the ...

The southern highlands of Ethiopia comprise lush scenic mountains bisected by the Great Rift Valley as it runs southward towards the border with Kenya. At the base of the Rift is a succession of five beautiful and very accessible lakes renowned for their scenic beauty and rich birdlife, notably in the spectacular Nechisar National Park. The montane highlight of the southeast is the hiker-friendly Bale National Park, home to a host of endemic wildlife, including the kudu-like mountain nyala, the rare Bale monkey, the world’s rarest canid in the form of the Ethiopian wolf, and 16 bird species. Lush montane forest covers much of the southwestern highlands, whose principal town Jimma was the first place in the world where coffee was cultivated. Farther southwest, the Southern Omo Valley is a veritable living museum inhabited by a hodgepodge of staunchly traditionalist pastoralist tribes including the Mursi, who are famed for the outrageous lip-plates worn by the women. Elsewhere, there are the singing wells used by the Borena to sustain their livestock in the arid Kenya border region, hundreds of mysterious medieval stelae in the midlands around Dila, and the Rift Valley lakes often support many thousands of flamingos.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Southern Ethiopia, also called the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region (SNNPR), is a area located in Southwest Ethiopia bordering Kenya and the Illemi Triangle.
  • Language: Amharic, Argobba, Harari
  • Currency: Ethiopian Birr
  • Research: Ethiopia | World Factbook | SNNPR
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Any time of year, though roads in the far southwest are sometimes washed away during the rains (June-Sept)