Dilla is a relatively large town south of Awassa and north of Yabello on the Moyale and is the administrative capital of the Gedea zone. The town lies in fertile green mountains and is also known for the excellent coffee grown in the vicinity: both Yirga Cheffe and Sidamo are sought after on the international markets. If coming to Dilla from the south or southwest, the fresh juices and pastries are most welcome, as is the reasonably good accommodation to be found along with some good restaurants. The recent news is that Dilla now has a much needed national bank, which gives this town further significance for those journeying from the south.
Dilla is a lovely town to use as a base for excursions to see the Stelae of Southern Ethiopia and the fascinating prehistoric Machitti rock carvings. The rock carvings are based in the Oromia region and it is possible to arrange a local Oromia guide. It is important to start out early though, as it is a good 8 km walk without a vehicle and the sun gets hot. The rock carvings are thought to be at least 3000 years old and show affinity with similar carvings found in South Africa and as far north as Eritrea: they depict herds of cattle with small heads, large decorated horns and large udders. The Tutu Fela Stelae Field is one of the most impressive archaeological sites out of the 50 or so fields known in the Gedea zone, the other site being Tututi. There are two styles of stelae: the phallic stelae thought to date from the 9th century and the anthropomorphic stelae, thought to date from the 12th century. Tutu Fela has around 300 stelae of both styles (mostly anthropomorphic), whereas the Tututi stelae are mostly phallic and some standing up to 6m high. These obelisks are essentially grave stones and excavation has revealed artefacts ranging from iron and copper bracelets, to pottery, beads and tools, which were buried along side the occupant.
Geographically Ethiopia is stunning. The landscape is dominated by the dramatic Ethiopian Highlands with peaks of 4000m or higher. The country is bisected by the Rift Valley, which starts at the Red Sea, to the North East, and continues south to Mozambique in southern Africa.