Resulted from faulting and cracking on its eastern side, the Great Rift Valley, which extends from the Middle East to Mozambique, passing in a north-south direction right through Ethiopia. This shearing of the earth's surface occurred at the same time that the Arabian Peninsula, geologically a part of Africa, was sundered from the rest of the continent.Volcanic activity, which has continued until today, finds expression in volcanoes in Ethiopia's Danakil Depression, as well as in the hot springs in many parts of the country. Earth tremors are often felt, and exposed cones of old volcanic plugs are seen throughout the plateau. After the Rift opened, much of this area was flooded by the inrushing waters of the red Sea, a flood that was subsequently stemmed by fresh volcanic activity that raised barriers of basaltic lava. Behind these barriers the trapped inland sea that had formed began to evaporate under the fierce heat of the tropical sun - a process that is almost complete today. Only a few scattered, highly saline lakes - Gamarri, Affambo, Bario, and Abbe remain. Elsewhere, there are huge beds of natural salt - which, at points, are calculated to be several thousands of meters thick.
The largest lake in Ethiopia (3600km2) is home to thirty-seven islands, of which twenty shelter churches of which significant historical and cultural interest. The islands are easily reached by boat. The nearest Monasries are Kibran Gabriel and Ura- KidaneMihiret. Women are not allowed to enter Kibran Gabriel Monastery.
Much of Africa's volcanic activity is concentrated along the immense 6000 km long crack in the earth's surface known as the Great Rift Valley. Great Rift Valley is great because it is extensive and it was formed by the sinking and tearing apart of the earth. The largest valley on the earth, the Great Rift Valley is one of the planet's most outstanding features. The Great Rift Valley is not just a subject on the geographical maps. It has already entered into the history looks as it holds the key to our past and the existence of early man on the continent. It is in the Alluvial Gorge (Kenya). In MelkaKunture and Hadar (Afar region) that the bones of our earliest ancestors like "Lucy" were found. It is as if the land broke apart in a rift to display its riches. Ethiopia is often referred to as the “water tower" of eastern Africa because of the many rivers that pour of its high tableland. The Rift valley's passage through Ethiopia marked by chain of seven lakes fed by different rivers. Each of the seven lakes has its own attractions. The lakes shelter different species of birds and many wild animals. The rift valley is also a habitat for a variety of flora and fauna.
One of the most spectacular and extensive underground caverns in the world: the Sof Omar cave system, an extraordinary natural phenomenon of breathtaking beauty, is to be found at 120 kilometers (74 miles) eastward from Gobba, in Bale, in a low valley filled with thorn trees and weird funnels of termite hills.
Yet another mysterious site takes visitors from Gobba, in Bale, for 120 kilometers (74 miles) eastward through a low valley filled with thorn trees and weird funnels of termite hills. The visitors are sure to be awestruck with one of the most spectacular and extensive underground caverns in the world: the Sof Omar cave system, an extraordinary natural phenomenon of breathtaking beauty. The caverns are formed by the Web River, which vanishes into this giant underground world with its arched portals, high, eroded ceilings, and deep, vaulted echoing chambers.
The caves currently constitute an important Islamic shrines named after the saintly Sheikh Sof Omar, who is said to have taken refuge here many centuries ago. The site has a religious history of thousands of years, which predates the arrival of the Muslims in Bale.
The caves are where nature has worked wonders of architecture, where one can see soaring pillars of stone twenty meters (66 feet) high, flying buttresses, fluted archways, and tall airy vaults. Finally, the river itself is reached, sunless sea flowing through a deep gorge.
The large central hall of Sof Omar, the "Chamber of Columns" (so named after the colossal limestone pillars that are its dominant feature) is one of the highlights of the cave system.
Torches and, of course, a map are a must when on a visit to the Sof Omar caves. Maps are provided by the Ethiopian Tourism Enterprise. Local guides also carry a copy of the map.
Bats (no trouble to the visitor), fish, and crustaceans are the only living creatures inhabiting the caves. There are crocodiles in the nearby river, but they seem to shun the caves themselves' fortunately! The countryside around the caves has an abundance of dik-dik and kudu, serval cat, rock hyrax, giant tortoises, snakes, lizards, and more than fifty species of birds.