After breakfast we will begin the journey south. Soon after leaving the cities limits we will find ourselves surrounded by beautiful lush countryside. Roadside farms cultivate Tef, Maize, flowers and even Chat. After a short drive we will stop to stretch our legs and have a coffee break in Butajira. While in Butajira we will be given the opportunity to see the Tiya Stellae world heritage site.
This site is the most important and impressive of several stellae clusters that dot the surrounding countryside. This site contains around 36 ancient stellae, 32 of which are engraved with enigmatic symbols, notably swords. Almost nothing is known about the monoliths carvers or their purposes other than they mark mass graves of individuals aged between 18 and 30.
After our visit to the stellae we will continue to wind our way through the beautiful countryside. As we descend into the Great Rift Valley we will pass through the town of Wolayita and Wosana, before stopping for lunch in Wolayita. During this lunch break you are able to try the Ethiopian staple injera and its varying array of accompaniments. If you are not so brave western cuisine is also available. From here the roads do begin to deteriate a little, but after a short drive we will leave the main road and drive up to the highland villages of the Dorze people. We will see the unique Elephant shaped houses, along with them making their food from the false banana tree. We will also witness them weaving cotton, before fashioning it into their traditional cloth. If you are interested, you will be able to buy some of cotton products straight from the crafts men and women.
From here we will proceed onto Abraminch. From our accommodation in Abraminch you will be able to sit and watch the days light seep from the sky over Ethiopia’s two largest and arguably beautiful Rift Valley lakes – Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo. Baboons, Marabou stalks and fish eagles are regularly spotted from the hotels restaurant.
Before breakfast we have an early morning drive to Lake Chamo National Park, where we gain entry permits for the park and organise a boat cruise on the lake. Whilst cruising the lake we will be seeing the lakes inhabitants. Large populations of white pelicans line the shores and islands, while massive crocodiles bask in the early morning sun. Huge pods of hippos also love the waters of the lake, spending their days wallowing in the shallow waters. Our arrival back to shore usually coincides with the return of the early morning fisherman’s, who always clean their mornings catch in front of a standing and very ugly crowd of marabou stalks.
After our morning’s excursion, it is back on the road towards Jinka. We will stop for breakfast enroute (this is usually in Konso). From here we will drive to the largest village in Konso to see how these people live before going to the “New York Canyon”. A beautiful canyon, that although much smaller than the Grand Canyon, is said to rival it for beauty.
We then leave Konso and we will notice the scenery begins to change, as does the temperature. Farming areas begin to disappear, replaced by African bushveld. The people’s faces seem to change as does their dress sense and the first of our “traditional” tribal people begin to appear. Lunch will either be available in Weyito or Keyafer, before we push onto our night’s accommodation in Jinka.
After breakfast we begin winding our way towards the Mago Mursi National Park to visit the Omo Mursi people. This is usually considered by most to be the highlight of most people’s trips to the area. We will see how the people live and you will be amazed at the amazing lip plates the women wear and the amount of scarification’s both the men and women have. Amazing photographs are always guaranteed, so remember to pack your camera. We will spend as much time with these amazing people as you wish before we bump and grind our way back towards Jinka for Lunch. During this drive we will deviate our course so we can look for a number of the parks animals. Kudu, Hartebeest, waterbuck and dik dik that are common in the park.
Following our lunch in Jinka we will then walk through the welcoming town up to the south Omo Zone Cultural museum and research centre. Inside we will see an interesting exhibition on the regions cultures, and if wanted we can watch various screenings of documentaries made about the area and its people. After our afternoon stroll we will then return to our accommodations for dinner and our overnight stay.
In the morning after breakfast we will drive to the Arri village. Here we will experience their way of life and have the opportunity to see their handmade ironwork and pottery. After spending some time with these crafty people we will drive down on towards Keyafar and a nearby Banna village. Whilst visiting the Banna we will learn about their culture whilst getting a good insight into their way of life.
After our village visit we will move onto Turmi, where, if we are lucky enough our visit will coincide with the weekly market where Hamar women sell and trade vegetables, spices, butter, milk and traditional items such as calabashes, head stools, metal arm bracelets and fantastically decorated goatskins that are adorned with beads and cowry shells. We will overnight in Turmi.
After breakfast we will head to Ormorate, which is the last town in Ethiopia before the border. As this is a sensitive border area. We are required to register our passports at the immigration and natural affairs office. This is a quick and easy process and should take no longer than 2 minutes. After this brief stop we will then walk through town to the side of the Omo River. From here we will either cross the murky brown waters by a traditional dugout canoe or by the village’s only motorboat.
Once we are safely across the Omo River we will visit the tribes of beautifully decorated Dassenech people. Once again we will be able to photograph these amazing people whilst we tour around their village, learning about their culture and their way of life. Once we have soaked in enough of their culture and sights, it will be back into the boats and back to Ormorate for lunch. From here it will be back to Turmi for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast we will drive to Korcho village to visit the Kara (Karo) people. This village is one of only three villages that the Kara people live in. Their population only numbers around 1500. This village is the most beautiful and scenic of all villages in the Omo valley as it is perched on a high bend overlooking the Omo River and its flood plains. Beautiful pictures are always captured here, as the Kara people love to decorate themselves in intricate face and body paintings – many of which represent the plumage of the Guinea fowl.
We drive back to Turmi where we will have lunch before moving on towards the Dimeka market to see the most colourful market in the South. We will tour around the market, where most pictures we take do not have to be paid for, it also gives us an opportunity to purchase any souvenirs we may wish to take home with us as Faranji (foreigner) inflation is not ridiculous here.
Our afternoon is set aside to visit one of the many Hamar villages that surround Turmi and it also affords us the chance to see any bull jumping ceremonies that maybe taking place in the area. The bull jumping ceremony is a right of passage for a maturing Hamar male. If there are no such ceremonies or markets, we will be free to tour the town of Turmi and if you are brave enough, try some of the local Tej (honey wine). Overnight will be in Turmi.
In the morning we pack our bags and say our final goodbyes to Turmi. From here it is the beginning of our long journey home. All is not over just yet as we still have the Omo valleys most colourful women to visit. The Arbore. These men, women and children are normally the most fun people to visit as they have a very distinct style of dress and always open to passing travellers. We will spend some time learning about their culture and way of life before hitting the road again towards Abraminch. Upon our arrival we will be able to celebrate our time with some of the planets most beautiful people with a quiet drink overlooking the spectacular vista from our accommodation.
Back on the road again! We head towards Wolayita for a brief stop and some well deserved breakfast. From here we will set off towards Shashemane. Here we will visit the Rastafarian village and art museums that are found north of the ramshackle town. We will learn about the rise of the Rastafarian culture and find out why the town is locally known as “Jamaica”. After Lunch we will drive back towards Addis Ababa.
For those that still have a lust to see and experience a little more of southern Ethiopia we can arrange a few short detours to see the beautiful lakes of Abiyat, Shala and Ziway. From here on it is back to the hustle and bustle of Addis life where you will be safely dropped off at your hotel or outbound flight.
For those staying in Addis, we can arrange to head out for an evening meal at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant that has a vast array of traditional dancing.