Tour Rating Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●●●● | History ●●○○○ | Wildlife ●●●○○ Tour Pace - Busy
- The national parks with their many species of birds and endemic mammals
- The lively markets which act as a meeting place for people from miles around
- The chance to observe the many tribes with their enduring traditions and ways of life
- The beautiful settlement of the Karo people at Koricho above the Omo River
- Accommodation: Mix of comfortable hotels and lodges
- Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary.
- Group Size: Maximum of 12
- Start Point: Addis Ababa
- End Point: Addis Ababa
- Transport: Mini-vans or 4WD or private buses
- Countries: Ethiopia
Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa. Arrive in Addis Ababa and transfer to your hotel. This afternoon visit some of the capital’s key sights including the Entoto Mountains, with great views over the city, the Ethnological Museum and Holy Trinity Cathedral. Overnight stay at Jupiter Hotel or similar.
Addis Ababa was founded in 1887 by Emperor Menelik II, and its name means ‘new flower’ in Amharic. A large city, it is the third highest capital in the world sitting at an altitude of 2400 m. It hosts East Africa’s largest market, the Mercato, a sprawling mass of stalls where one can find just about anything for sale, including the much favoured national drug qat, and is well endowed with other sights. Churches such as St George’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity give a great insight into Ethiopia’s particular brand of Christianity. The Cathedral of St George, named after Ethiopia’s patron saint (the famed dragon slayer who also serves as patron saint for England) was built by Emperor Menelik to commemorate his victory over Italian forces at Adwa, and houses a small museum with a collection of important religious paintings, books and artefacts. A good National Museum holds an interesting selection of artefacts from Ethiopia’s wide and varied history. Ethiopia was the only African nation never to be fully colonised, although the Italians occupied parts of it for a while in the first half of the twentieth century, and it is still possible to see remnants of their legacy in Addis, particularly in the Piazza area which is a great place to walk around and soak up the atmosphere.
Day 2: Addis - Bale Mountains National Park (400 km, approx. 8-9 hrs driving). This morning we will drive to the Bale Mt. National Park, travelling thorough the southeast part of the country, where fertile land is cultivated by the Oromo people. We arrive at Dinsho Park Headquarters in the afternoon and will take a trek to search for endemic mammals and bird species. Later on we continue our drive to Goba. Overnight stay at Goba Wabe Shebele Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Bale Mountains National Park
Located 400 km southeast of Addis Ababa, Bale Mountains National Park contains a spectacularly diverse landscape. The high altitude, afro-montane Sanetti Plateau rises to over 4,000 m and includes the highest peak in the southern Ethiopia highlands. This undulating plateau is marked by numerous glacial lakes and swamps and surrounded by higher volcanic ridges and peaks. The southern slopes are covered by the lush and largely unexplored Harenna Forest. The forest is also a home for different pig species, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and African hunting dogs among others. Moreover the Bale Mountains are home to 16 endemic bird species. It is one of the best sites to spot the endangered Ethiopian Wolf, especially on the spectacular Sanetti Plateau, as the sun rises.
Day 3: Bale Mountains National Park (240 km, approx. 4-5 hrs driving). After an early breakfast we drive to the Sanetti Plateau through Harenna forest, where we will see Tulu Dimtu, the second highest mountain in the country (4377 m). We will explore the area, and if we are lucky we may spot the Ethiopian Wolf. Overnight stay at Goba Wabe Shebele Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 4: Bale to Yirgalem (270 km, approx. 6 hrs driving). After breakfast we continue with a drive to Yirgalem. We will pass through a number of coffee plantations and various fruit cultivating towns set in verdant countryside. Our destination is the Aregash Lodge. A natural retreat of astounding beauty and tranquillity, the Bamboo thatched Tukuls complement the traditional Sidama villages nearby. The surrounding forest is home for a diverse range of mammals and birds. A coffee plantation and the nightly visit of hyenas are further attractions to be found in the surrounding area. Overnight stay at Aregash lodge or similar. (BLD)
Day 5: Konso (340 km, approx. 8 hrs driving). Today we will drive to Konso. On the way you will have the opportunity to stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery of coffee plantations and we will stop to visit the Tutu Fella Stelae, prehistoric carved stone monuments that have mystified people for many centuries. Overnight stay at Kanta Lodge or similar. (BLD)
The Konso are known for their custom of erecting wooden grave markers, which mark the resting place of important leaders and warriors. These markers are carved with the exaggerated features of the dead person. In a similar fashion, the Konso also erect poles to signify the coming of age of a generation, and these poles can be found in their village squares.
Day 6: Konso to Jinka (170 km, approx. 4 hrs driving). This morning we will visit one of the Konso villages and the Konso museum before continuing our drive to Jinka. We will travel through the lands of the Derase, Tsemay and Benna people. We will be able to see these tribal people and also the Ari people up close at the Thursday key Afer market. Overnight stay at Jinka Resort or similar. (BLD)
The Tsemay are one of the lesser known of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups, with numbers not exceeding 10,000 people. Their neighbours include the Konso to the east, the Banna - Bashada group to the west, the Male to the north, and the Arbore to the south.
A small mountain town set apart from the rest of the country, Jinka feels both remote and rustic, which is accentuated by the grass airstrip in the middle of town. People come from across South Omo to visit the Saturday market, particularly Ari, Bana, Besheda and Besketo people.
Day 7: Mago National Park (160 km, approx. 4 hrs driving). This morning we will travel to Mago National Park and visit the Mursi people, renowned for their practice of extending their lips with clay plates. This afternoon we visit the Jinka Museum. Overnight stay at Jinka Resort or similar. (BLD)
The Mursi are perhaps the best known of the Omo Valley tribes, due to the distinctive custom among women of wearing clay plates through their lips. When a woman reaches the age of about 20, a small cut is made in the lower lip and a clay plate inserted, which is then extended each year. The Mursi people live in one of the least accessible areas of Ethiopia - when a British anthropologist visited them for the first time in the early 1970s, they had never heard of the country of Ethiopia where they live. They are a relatively small ethnic group, comprising of about 7-10,000 people.
Day 8: Turmi (120 km, approx. 3 hrs driving). Today our journey today takes us to Turmi. We travel through the lands of the very colourful Hamer people, renowned for their unusual hairstyles. En route we stop to visit the colourful Dimeka market which is attended by the elegant Hamer and Benna women. Since it borders on Benna territory, the Saturday market attracts locals from both tribes. After taking some time in the market we will drive to Turmi. Later we visit one of the Turmi villages where local people are known for their colourful hair styles and bull jumping traditions during wedding festivities. The ladies are normally adorned in beautifully decorated leather skirts. Overnight stay Turmi Lodge or similar (BLD)
The 15,000 to 20,000 members of the Hamar make their living as successful cattle herders and farmers. Once they hunted, but the wild pigs and small antelope have almost disappeared from the lands in which they live; and until 20 years ago, all ploughing was done by hand with digging sticks. Hamar men come of age by leaping over a line of cattle in a ceremony which qualifies them to marry, own cattle and have children. They must leap over the cattle four times – only then are they considered to be men. At this time, the female relatives of the men leaping will line up to be whipped by the maza, a group of men who have performed the leap themselves and live separately to the rest of the tribe. This whipping is said to create a strong bond between the jumper and his female relations, as he now owes them a debt and they can call upon him during times of hardship.
Day 9: Turmi (140 km, approx. 3-4 hrs driving). We also spend time with the Karo people, known for their body decoration and scarification. We will drive to Koricho, a settlement for the Karo ethnic groups, perhaps the most beautiful, with its lofty views over the Omo River and traditional Karo dwelling. We will also visit another authentic village called Dus. Overnight stay at Turmi Lodge or similar. (BLD)
The Karo people are renowned for their painted body and face decorations. This is an elaborate process, which ranges from fine and elaborate details to rough, but striking paintings traced with the palms or fingers. The most beautiful expression is in the facial and chest paintings that combine white (chalk), black (charcoal), yellow, ochre, and red earth, often imitating the spotted plumage of a guinea fowl. Karo women scarify their chests as a sign of beauty, while the scarification of a man's chest indicates that he has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal. The scars are cut with a knife or razor blade and ash is rubbed in to produce a raised effect. The wearing of a grey and ochre clay hair bun also has the same significance.
Day 10: Turmi to Arbaminch (270 km, approx. 7 hrs driving). After a relaxing breakfast we will witness the fascinating spectacle that is the Monday Turmi market, principally attended by the Hamer people. Overnight stay at Paradise Lodge or similar. (BLD)
Day 11: Lake Chamo and Dorze. This morning we take a boat trip to view the crocodiles in Lake Chamo. This afternoon we drive to Chencha, to visit the Dorze people, with their unique culture, houses and traditions. Overnight stay at Paradise Lodge or similar. (BLD)
This region is known for the Dorze people, who in turn are known for their unusual beehive shaped houses, constructed from wood and bamboo. These towering, re-locatable structures can reach as high as 12 metres, and last from 60-80 years, so will generally be used by one family for their lifetimes. Traditionally the bamboo that is used as frames for the huts is cut during moonlight. The Dorze are farmers and are also known for weaving fine quality shamas, the shawl type cloths that are worn throughout Ethiopia.
Day 12: Rift Valley Lakes (320 km, approx. 7-8 hrs driving). Drive to the Rift Valley lakes of Shala, Abyata and Langano, admiring wonderful views and the many birds, including pelicans and flamingos. Then relax by the shores of Lake Langano and near to Munessa Forest or choose one of the options of trekking, bird-watching, horse-riding, boat excursions, cycling and more. Overnight stay at Sabanna Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)
Rift Valley Lakes
The cluster of lakes – Shala, Abyata and Langano – that are found in this area are a great spot for birdwatching, with many of Ethiopia’s numerous species of birds found here. Langano in particular is also popular with local tourists, as it is the only lake in Ethiopia without bilharzia, making it safe to swim in. The nearby Abyata-Shala National Park incorporates the two Rift Valley lakes it is named after, and borders Lake Langano. The two lakes could not be more different - Shala lies in a crater 265 m deep, studded with volcanic islands. Lake Abyata, in contrast, is large and shallow, no deeper than 14 m. These lakes are part of the Rift Valley, an enormous fissure that stretches from Syria all the way down to Mozambique, culminating in Lake Malawi and nearly 4000 miles in length. The Rift Valley has been an excellent source of well-preserved fossils, exemplified in Ethiopia by the skeletons of human ancestors that have been unearthed within the last fifty years.
Day 13: Addis Ababa. The morning will be at leisure to relax and swim by the beach. This afternoon, we continue our drive back to Addis for the night. En route we will have a stop at Lake Ziway for some bird watching. In the evening, there is a traditional dinner where you will experience live cultural music and dance. Overnight stay at Jupiter Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 14: City Tour and Departure. After breakfast, depending on the time of your flight, there may be time for some last minute exploration. Visit will include St George's Cathedral, the National Museum and the Merkato, reputedly the biggest open air market in Africa. The tour concludes with a transfer to Bole International Airport (BL)
- Arrival and departure transfers
- All accommodation
- Transport in private vehicles
- Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
- Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
- Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
- International flights
- Video/camera charges
- Any airport taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Drinks (although water is provided with each meal).
About This Supplier
Also see tour packages in:
Africa Ethiopia Local Culture Cultural Journey Wildlife Viewing
Email it to a friend:
Click here to email this vacation to a friend