The Rift Valley divides Ethiopia into two almost equal parts and is a deep fissure in the earth's crust that runs for over 6000 km from the Middle East to Mozambique, containing hot springs, a magnificent series of lakes and a big variety of wildlife. Ethiopia sometimes called "water tower" because of the many rivers that pour off the high tableland. It encompasses unique bio-diversity: the lowest point on earth is located in the north-east (the Danakil Depression is 116 metres below sea level); Ethiopia's second highest peak (Mount Tuludimtu at 4373 metres above sea level) is located in the south-east. About four national parks, more than six crater lakes, and rivers with breathtaking marine and bird life are found at either end. The Rift Valley is also rich in various land forms such as gorges, rolling plains, cliffs, and escarpments.
The Rift Valley system is the only natural site that can be seen from space. Here varied plant and wildlife is scenically interspersed with glamorous bodies of water and diversified marine and bird life.
The Awash, Netch Sar, Dinsho (Bale Mountains) and Mago National Parks are home to exotic wildlife. Apart from the diversified flora and fauna, animals ranging from big game to small mammals can easily be seen in their natural habitat: elephant, buffalo, lion, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, kudu, nyala (endemic), jackal, baboon, oryx, gazelle, bushbuck etc.
The cradle of humankind, homeland of Lucy, the oldest hominid fossil on earth at 3.5 million years, this valley is still an ideal hunting ground for culturally rich ethnicity. The most colorful cultures and people, which account for more than 50% of the total number of tribes, are found in this part of the country. The most colorful and best preserved cultural peoples, the Mursi, Hamer, Karo, Konso, Erbore and others inhabit this area.
Dancalia is the lowest part of Ethiopia at 116 m below sea level; it stretches between the Red Sea and the foothills of the eastern slopes of the Ethiopian plateau.
The area contains marvellous examples of volcanoes, although currently only minimally active. The rock surfaces are coloured in spectacular hues due to the emissions of various chlorides from geysers.
There are 30 salt lakes in the north of the region, which are home to an enormous variety of birds.
The whole region is inhabited by the Afar people - proud nomadic shepherds. They carry salt in their camel caravans up to the Ethiopian highlands.