Omo Vally Rising in the highlands south-west of Addis Ababa ,the Omo river courses south foe almost 1,000 kilometers (620miles)but never reaches the sea .It is the sole feeder of Lake Turkana, East Africa’s fourth largest lake ,which the river enters just above the Kenyan border. As it tumbles off the escarpment ,the Omo passes from alpine environment and rain forest on into savannah country-and finally into searing desert lands .Through the millennia its good food-swollen waters have cut stupendous gorges. Wild game roam in abundance on both banks, while strange and colorful birds dart in and out of the lush vegetation. Reckoned by enthusiasts to be one of Africa’s premier locations for White Water River rafting, it’s early fury takes it through gorges hundreds of meter deep and over fish and the huge shapes of crocodile and hippo .Omo National Park was not easy to visit in the last two decades, but it is now more accessible. On the final leg of its journey south to Turkana,the omo runs between Kefa and Gamo Gofa regions .It’s here that Ethiopia’s largest natural sanctuary ,the omo National park –one of the richest in spectacle and game and yet one of the least visited areas in East and Central Africa –is located. Another sanctuary, the Mago National Park, has been established on the eastern bank of the river: a land of endless, distant horizons. Subsequent research in Ethiopia, carried out in the nearby Gona Valley, south west of Hadar, as well as the Omo Valley further south, has led to the discovery of numerous stone tools, and fossils, thought to be around 2.5 million years old. Both parks can offer incredible spectacles of big game. Both have the merit, also, of being far from the beaten track and virtually
unexplored, and thus are places in which game can be seen in a truly natural state. Most easily accessed from the town of Jinka, Mago National Park is mainly savannah ,with some forested areas around the rivers .It was set up to conserve the large numbers of plains animals in the area, particularly buffalo ,giraffe ,and elephant .The birds are also typical of the dry grassland habitat ,featuring bustards ,hornbills, weavers, and starling, kingfishers, and herons feed in and around the Neri River ,which provides an alternative habitat. Although adjoining Mago, the large and beautiful Omo National park, hardly visited in the last two decades is now more accessible. The parks are extensive wilderness areas and wildlife can be prolific: large herds of eland and buffalo, elephant, giraffe, cheetah, lion, leopard, and burchell’s zebra, lusser kudu, lelwel hartebeest, topi, and Oryx , are all resident species, as well as debrazza’s and colobus monkeys and Anubis baboon. The 306 bird species recorded include many that will be familiar to East African visitors. Omo people and Gambella On the fringes of the national parks,the lower Omo Valley is home to s fascinating mixture of small, contrasting tribal groups.Lifestyles are as varied as the people themselves.the Mursi and Surma lead lives of harsh simplicity ,uncluttered by the pressures and anxieties of the modern world outside.Their women are renowned for the customs. The mursi warriors still follow the custom of carving deep crescent shaped incisors in their arms as a symbol of heroic achievements in tribal conflicts .The Surma and Karo utilize various clays and vegetable dyes to trace amazing patterns on one other’s faces,chests arms and legs. Multiple earnings are a popular male decoration,as are elaborate hair styles shaped and sculptured with razors,smoothed flat at the front of the head with s skull-cap of dried red mud,and often topped off with an ostrich feather.Women are even more extravagantly coiffured with their hair in ochre-plastered ringlets or amongst the Hamer ,wearing headbands decorated with large oval plates of burnished tin. Generally naked from the waist up ,the women of this region wear short knee length leather skirts,the hems of which are decorated and weighed down with many jingling iron nails beaten into rings. Goatskins are plentiful and some women wear leather skirts, often embroidered with colorful beadwork or cut into long strips. Although not technically in the Rift Valley, the Gambella National Park –lies along another of the country’s important rivers;the Baro.Near the town of Gambella ,Gambella National Park ,is one of Ethiopia’s least developed parks and has no facilities .Nevertheless ,the large conservation area contains many species not found elsewhere in the country ,such as the Nile lechwe and the white-eared kob.Roan antelope,topi,elephant,buffalo,giraffe,and the unusual whale-headed stork are also to be found here. This is one of Ethiopia’s true tropical zones and here all the elements of the African safari are to be found,enchaced by a distinctly Ethiopian flavor.Lost in the endless undulating plains of high Sudanese grass ,it is a place of exciting adventure and one of the few remaining challengs to the explorer. Nile perch weighing over 100 kilos have been caught in the waters of the Baro ,and huge crocodiles thrive here on such fare.