South West Ethiopia Peoples’ Region

The South West Ethiopia Peoples’ Region is located in southwestern Ethiopia. It was split off from the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) on 23 November 2021 after a successful referendum. One can find lush green areas with coffee plantations or savannas on the west bank of the Omo River. The Zone of Keffa, named after the former ‘Kingdom of Kaffa’, is thought to be the birthplace of all Arabica coffee produced around the world today.

It’s a very interesting area for the adventurous traveler. The Omo National Park offers an extraordinary wilderness experience. It is comparable with its counterpart at the other (east) side of the Omo River, Mago National Park which is much easier to access. These parks support a great variety in wildlife and birdlife. The diversity of people living in the Omo valley is certainly unique. It is believed to have been a crossroad in human development. Near the small settlement of Bume (also called Kibish, the oldest remains of Homo sapiens were found, dated 195.000 years back. The lower valley of the Omo river is declared a World Heritage Site.

The small town of Mizan Tefari is leading to a very interesting area for travelers. It is the last small town before entering the far south west of Ethiopia, surrounded by lush green forests and coffee plantations and finally descending down to the savanna on the west bank of the Omo River. There is no bridge over the river yet (a crossing is planned near Omerate) however the other side of the river is relatively easily accessible and is often visited. It is an area with a great diversity of people living here: Bench, Dizi, Suri with the infamous lip plates and body painting, Me’en and Nyangatom, just to name a few.