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Southern route

Southern Ethiopia

Southern Ethiopia is a canvas ripped in two. Its landscape is being torn apart by the Great Rift Valley, leaving a trail of lakes where you can go see crocodiles, hippos and birds – or just drink in the scenery from you hotel. Move east and the Bale Mountains offer rewarding treks across a plateau amid Afro-alpine plants and rare wildlife. It’s here you’ll encounter the world’s rarest canid, the Ethiopian wolf, hunting giant molerats.

But it’s the seemingly timeless tribes of the Lower Omo Valley, such as the lip-stretching Mursi and body-painting Karo, that leave the deepest impression on visitors. To meet them 20 years ago was nearly unheard of. To travel there today is very easy, but still a privilege. Not that it always seems so. Frustration, born of the vast (but narrowing) cultural chasm, is almost inevitable. But while the irritation quickly fades, the memories never will.