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Anisha Shah
Created byAnisha Shah
Luxury & Emerging Destinations Travel Journalist

Southern Ethiopia: Tribes and Tropics

Featured Guide

Southern Ethiopia contradicts and complements the historical North. The landscape is fiercely tribal and tropical.  The land is ripped apart by the dramatic Rift Valley. Murky sodden lakes, deep red-earth and  gushing ochre rivers vie for attention against lush tropical vegetation. The South is also home to some of the oldest tribes on the planet, such as the bull-jumping Hamer people and the starkly beautiful Mursi, whose women wear decorative lip plates and whose men are tattooed, protecting their cattle-herding livelihoods with Machetes and Kalashnikovs.  Just getting there is an adventure!

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Shashamene Little Jamaica

Visiting the little-known Jamaican town of Ethiopia is like walking through the streets of Montego Bay. Emperor Haile Selassie, in fact, inspired the Rastafari movement, later welcoming its people to Ethiopia in 1948. Now there’s a 100,000+ strong community with reggae bars serving Rum,...

Khat roadside market

A flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa, Khat is an amphetamine-like substance that is commonly chewed by men, women and even children throughout the country. Heading South, roadside Khat markets are fascinating. Large bundles of the green leaves are bought and sold at market in the same way...

Aregash Lodge

Located in Yirgalem, very close to the borders of Kenya and Somalia. The Sidama region is famous for coffee plantations, supplying much of the world’s caffeine. The family-run lodge sits atop a hill with views over the forested region, surrounded by its own coffee, avocado and banana plantations,...

Ethiopian coffee ceremony

Coffee is a serious business in the ‘birthplace of the bean.’ It’s offering signifies great respect. On visiting any Ethiopian home, the ceremony begins. Beans are first roasted before guests on hot coal. They’re then brought to guests for the aroma to be appreciated. The woman of the household...

Konso Cultural Landscape

A walk through a village in the UNESCO Konso landscape is eye-opening. Stone-walled fortifications house villagers in a tradition dating back 400 years, Ankle-deep in mud, relentless flies pick at the eyes of countless young children running around naked. Each community is enclosed and tightly...

Lake Chamo crocodile safari

In the Main Ethiopian Rift, this small boat trip starts as an idyllic sunset ride. Minutes in, hippos carelessly splash past. But deeper in, on the banks, gigantic Nile crocodiles appear. Amongst the world’s longest and widest, they’re spectacularly impressive, sunning themselves in their...

Fish Market

Compete with Marabou, Cormorants, Kites, Pelicans and crowds of people for seafood straight from Lake Awassa, at this lakeside open-air market. This is lake-to-table dining as young fishing boys return to shore, boats loaded with Tilapia. Bought there and then by lakeside eateries, it’s put...

Awassa university city

One of the largest cities in the South, Awassa is a university city. Complete with bars, cafes and restaurants, it’s a culture shock from the rest of the region. On the banks of Lake Awassa and in the Great Rift Valley, this is a surreal metropolis in which to enjoy coffee and cake in a modern urban coffee...

Mursi lip-plate adorned tribe

Locate Mursi deep in tiny jungle villages living in mud huts. Girls split their bottom lip from young age to eventually insert 5 inch clay decorative plates. The same is done in earlobes. The Mursi widely believe it’s a sign of beauty. Breasts are exposed and bodies covered in subcutaneous tattoo...

Mago National Park

On the East bank of the Omo River, this park is relatively new, established 35 years ago. The 1,500 sq mile vegetation includes a wildlife reserve, the Mago river and Lake Dipa. Narrow dirt tracks lead through epic scenes within which native nomadic tribes co-exist, predominantly the Mursi people...