Arba Minch and Surrounds
Arba Minch is the former capital of Gamo-Gofa Province, consists of two discrete settlement separated by 4 km of tar road and an altitude climb of almost 200m. Downtown Sikela is the larger, more bustling commercial and residential center, while uptown Shecha is a vaguely posher settlement of unimposing government buildings, hotels and the home of government employees. The town lies at an elevation of around 1,300m in the foothills of the Rift Valley wall, above a cliff overlooking the mountainous sliver that separates the lakes of Chamo and Abaya.
Nechisar National Park
Nechisar National Park links two of the Rift Valley lakes, Abaya - the longest and largest of the valley - and Chamo. As well as their crocodiles and bird life, Lakes Abaya and Chamo are famous for their sport fishing, especially for Nile perch - often weighing more than 100 kilos - and for the fighting tiger fish.
Lake Chamo in particular has an excellent viewing point for Nile crocodiles known as azo gabaya - the Crocodile Market. Another interesting attraction on the lakes are the people traversing their surfaces in precarious-looking ambatch boats made from reeds.
The Hot springs and the forest
Arba Minch means ‘Forty Springs’, and the hot springs after which the town is named lie at the base of the cliff near the Bekel Mola hotel. The area around the springs is covered in dense forest, which gives you an execellent opportunity to explore this habitat on foot, and you can swim in a pool at the springs.
Crocodile Farm and Lake Abaya
The Arba Minch crocodile farm, run by the Department of National Resources, lie about 6km out of town near Lake Abaya. The crocodiles are hatched from eggs taken from the lake but a number have been re-introduced to keep the natural population in balance. The farm consists of a dozen or so cages, each of which contains several hundred bored-looking crocodiles of a similar age.
Chencha-The Dorez Village
Chencha a small high land town set at an altitude of 2,900m in the Guge hills, 37km north of Arba Minch by road. Aside from the dramatic views back to the Rift valley lakes near Arba Minch, chencha is of interest to travelers as the home of the Dorze people, renowned cotton weavers whose tall beehive-shaped dwellings are among the most distinctive traditional structures to be seen anywhere in Africa.
The dorze speak an omotic tongue, similar to several languages of the lower omo valley. The main occupations of the region are subsistence farming and weaving: every Dorze compound is surrounded by a smallholding of tobacco, enset and other crops and contains at least one loom which is constantely worked by one or other member of the family. The shema cloth produced around Chencha is regarded to be the finest in Ethiopia: plain white gabbi robes and brightly colored scarf-like netelas are sold along the road side.