Awassa and the Fish Market
Hawassa (Awassa) is an active town Ethiopia at the heart of the rift valley. It is the capital of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region. Over 50 various nation nationalities made their home with their own traditions, languages, dress, dance, and culture. It serves as an excellent base for exploring the southern Ethiopia and tribes of Omo Valley. The town has been named after the lake that stands next to it.
Awassa (Hawassa) town is attaining a continuous growth; and daily attracting tourists and has opened its doors wide to investors. It is an attractive town that you can come in any of your interest and do what you wish. It is at a distance of 275km from Addis Ababa, founded on 1959.
Life in Hawassa starts at the fish market, as every morning the fishermen bring home the fresh catch, surrounded by the opportunistic birds of the lake. The abundance and variety of the lake side birdlife is truly spectacular. A highlight of any trip here will be with no doubt taking a boat across the lake to see the hippos, all the while surrounded by birds of every shape and colour, from awesome fish eagles and storks, to the smallest waders and weavers.
Sipping a cold drink as you sit at the lakeside while the sun sets over the volcanic hills to the west, the birds fly across the water to rest is surely one of the life’s simplest but most rewarding pleasures.
Awassa (Hawassa) is well served by excellent hotels and restaurants, bars and clubs. Delicious traditional foods compete for your appetite’s attention with superb western dishes, while both the best local and international wines are available to digest. Ethiopia is a musical country, and combining a few of the excellent local beers with a spot of dancing is a popular way of spending the night life.
Konso Cultural Landscape
Konso Cultural Landscape: Southern Nations Ethiopia inscribed in 2011
The Konso Cultural Landscape properties including the traditional stone wall towns (Paletea), ward system (kanta), Mora (cultural space), the generation pole (Olayta), the dry stone terracing practices (Kabata), the burial marker (Waka) and other living cultural practices are the reasons for the inscribiton of the Konso cultural landscape to be listed on UNESCO world heritage sites list.
Cultural properties constituting the Konso Cultural Landscape are:-
- The traditional stone walled towns (Paletea) and their organization and associated cultural properties including the Kanta (Ward system), Mora(Cultural space), with its men house (Pafta), Generation marker tree (Olayta), erected stones (Daga-hela and Daga-diruma)
- The dry stone terrace( kabata), used for water and soil conservation
- The traditional maintained grooves (forests) which serve as a refuge for many endemic plants
- The burial marker statuettes (Waka) made of wood and unique to Konso people
- The ponds (Harda)
- The active traditions of Konso (erecting stelae)
Rift valley Lakes
The Great Rift Valley is the single largest geographical feature on the African continent, and was the only such feature visible to the first astronauts to reach the moon. The process of rifting started some 20 million years ago along a 4,000km-long fault line that stretches from the Red Sea south to Mozambique’s Zambezi Valley.
The Ethiopian portion of the Rift Valley runs forms the Read Sea to Lake Turkana on the Kenyan border. In northern Ethiopia, it forms the Danakil Depression, and inaccessible and inhospitable desert that dips to an altitude of 116m below sea level, one of the lowest points on the earth’s surface. South of the Danakil Depression, due east of Addis Ababa, the Rift narrows around Awash National Park to bisect the Ethiopia as Eastern and Western Highlands.
The southern part of the Ethiopian Rift Valley is lower, warmer and direr than other densely populated parts of the country. Covered in acacia woodland and studded with lakes. The six main lakes of the Ethiopian Rift formed during the last lce Age, originally as two large lakes, one of which embraced what are now Lakes Ziway, Abiata, Shala and Langano, the other Lakes Abaya and Chamo.
Like a chain of pearls, the lakes cover the bottom of the Rift Valley stretching from Djibouti to Mozambique with a width of 50km. All the Lakes are full of fish like Tilapia and Nile Perch and thus attract many different bird species, making them a paradise for bird watchers. They are also altideal places for a real vacation with relaxation, swimming, boat trips, fishing, watching crocodiles and hippo’s and enjoying the serene, romantic views, especially at sunset, with only the voices of the birds or crickets as background music.
Coming from Addis Abeba, you first pass the artificially-made lake where the Koka Dam provides electricity for the capital. Not long after passing this lake, the first Rift Valley Lake comes into view: Lake Zway. Here you can observe many birds such as white pelican, saddle bill, yellow bill, storks and kingfishers. Hippo’s can also be seen. Traveling further to the south there is an excellent opportunity to relax at the shores of Lake Langano. This lake with its reddish brown water is free of Bilharzia, so it is safe to swim. There are several good hotels and Lodges in a beautiful setting where you can relax on the sandy shores and where boats, pedalboats, fishing equipment and cycles can be hired. It is an ideal base to make trips to the nearby Lakes Shala and Abiata. Lake Abiata provides a stunning spectacle of untouched, UN spoilt Ethiopia. It hosts an extraordinary number of birds like wild duck, geese, cormorants, flamingos and great numbers of Great White Pelicans.
These pelicans come only to Abiata to feed; they nest and sleep on islands in neighboring Lake Shala. These islands are home to the most important breeding colony of Great White Pelicans in Africa. Lake Shala which is a crater lake has many bays fringed with wild fig, acacia and euphorbia, overlooking dark waters which are the deepest in Ethiopia, 200 meters or more. It breathes an untouched, mysterious beauty. In its surroundings several sulphurous springs bubble up. There are excellent places for camping on its shores, ideal for people who seek rest and silence in unspoiled nature. There is not much wild life around the lakes but the beautiful Grant’s Gazelle and different species of monkeys can regularly be seen.
People of South Omo Valley
Traordinary cultural integrity, that there is more than a smattering of truth in the assertion that as recently as 50 years ago the people of South Omo were scarcely aware that such an entity as Ethiopia existed.
hamar Tribes South Omo is literally fantastic. Descending from the green, urbane highlands into the low-lying plains of South Omo feels like a journey not merely through space, but also through time, as one enters the vast and thinly populated badlands that divide the mountainous centre of Ethiopia from its counterpart in Kenya. Like much of neighboring northern Kenya, South Omo is a close as one can come to an Africa untouched by outside influences.
The culturally diverse, immaculately colorful and defiantly traditionalist agro-pastoralists who inhabit the region seem to occupy a physical and psychic landscape little different to that of their nomadic ancestors. This is Africa as it once was, or as some might still imagine it to be, and its mere existence is at once wonderful and scarcely credible. It seems facile to label South Omo as a living museum. Yet in many senses, that is exactly what it is. Four of Africa’s major linguistic groups are represented in the region. All in all, depending on where one draws the lines, as many as two-dozen different tribes occupy South Omo, some numbering tens of thousands, others no more that 500, each one of them culturally unique.
The most renowned of the Omotic-speakers are the Mursi, famed for their practice of inserting large clay plates behind the lower lips of their women. Other important groups of South Omo include theHamer-Bena, the Karo and the Ari, whose cultures and quirks of adornment-body scarring, body painting. Romanticize or condemn it, South Omo is there, it is fascinating, and it is utterly unique.
The Valley of Omo
Valley of Omo Pre-historic and Paleontological site – UNESCO registered
The areas of Omo Valley has internationally recognized as World Heritage site because of its outstanding paleo-anthropological and archaeological reserves. For instance, Omo, Fejej and Konso are among the prominent paleo-anthropological sites within and around the Omo valley.
Sites of the Omo Valley contain fossil remains dating back to between 4 million and 100,000 years ago. Fossils of the genus Homo species and stone artifacts have been discovered in various localities including the following:
- The partial skull of Homo habilis, dated to 1.9 million years ago.
- Homo erectus fossils dated about to 1.7 to 1.8 million years old.
- Fossils of modern Homo sapiens in the Kibish area; Homo sapiens were originated 100,000 years ago most likely in Africa.
Generally, many remains of humans and pre-human ancestors have been discovered in the Omo valley and the surrounding areas including Australopithecus Afarensis, Australopithecus aethiopicus, Australopithecus boisei, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, archaic and modern Homo sapiens.