Wilder, warmer, and more archetypically African than the highlands north of Addis Ababa, southern Ethiopia holds a suite of attractions very different to those along the northern historical circuit. Culturally, the highlight is the remote South Omo valley, inhabited by a dozen ethnic groups who survive by agriculture and livestock-herding and adhere to such ancient traditional rituals as body painting, ritual scarification and bull-jumping. Scenically, the region is dominated by the Great Rift Valley, an immense tectonic scar whose acacia-studded floor is scattered with a half-dozen beautiful lakes teeming with flamingos, pelicans and other charismatic African birds. Rising to the east of this, the immense Bale Mountains National Park is unquestionably the best part of the country for viewing endemic wildlife, including the iconic Ethiopian wolf. Other lesser attractions include the charming resort city of Hawassa on the shore of the eponymous lake, the historic island monastery of Maryam Tsion on Lake Ziway, and the lushly forested slopes surrounding the famous hot-springs resort at Wondo Genet.
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