We will meet early in the morning before heading out of the city to visit the Entoto Mountains. From this special place that is the site of Menelik’s former capital. There is a terrific but sometimes windy panoramic view of Addis Ababa. After we have taken in the cities beauty we will have a short walk to the highly regarded Entoto Maryam Church that sits atop of the mountain summit.
Our afternoon will be spend touring the city, taking in sights such as the Natural History Museum, Addis Ababa Museum, the Lion of Judah Monument, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Derg Monument, National Museum (Lucy can be seen inside this wonderful museum.), St George Catedral and the Merkato ( Largest open air market in Africa).
After a busy afternoon sightseeing and shopping it will be back to your hotel for the night.
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 Stelae world heritage site.
This site is the most important and impressive of several stelae clusters that dot the surrounding countryside. This site contains around 36 ancient stelae, 32 of which are ingraved 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 stelae 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 cusine is alos 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 Arba minch. From our accommodation in Arba minch 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, Maribou 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 mornings excursion, it is back on the road towards Jinka. We will stop for breakfast enrout (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 Jinka. If time permits we will then go to see the markets in Jinka that attracts the local Omo Murssi people. After a short tour of the markets and town we will head back to our hotel for dinner and our nights accommodation.
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, Heartbeest, waterbuck and dik dik that are common in the park.
Following our lunch in Jinka we will then walk through the welcoming town yp 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 iron work 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 motor boat.
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.
After breakfast we will start the journey to the colourful Arbore tribe which is approximately 70 kilometres away where we will be able to have great chance of photographing these beautiful people in the golden morning light. We will learn about their culture and their way of life before moving onto Weyto. We will stretch our legs and have a brief coffee break before moving onto Konso where we will have our lunch. If our visit coincides with the weekly market we will have time to browse their wares before heading towards the “New York Canyon” which is said to rival the Grand Canyon for beauty, but deffinatly not in size! Travelling back to Konso we will keep our eyes out for the areas King who is regularly seen walking around the various roadside villages in his brightly coloured pants.
After beakfast we will hit the road towards Yabelo. Once in town we wil have time for lunch beforel organising our accomidation for the night. After this we will drive to EL Sod, here we will see one of Ethiopias largest salt deposits, known as the House of salt. It is famed for its 100 meter deep crater lake. Approximatly 800meters across and as dark as an oil slick, it stands as a huge contrast against the rose red rocks that surround the area.
After seeing the black salt be extracted by the areas workmen we will move onto one of the areas famous singing wells. Here we will be lucky enough to see the ancient tradition of serenading water as it is extracted from the well or shared amongst a shepards cattle.
Once we arrive back at our transposrt we will will have a short stop enroute to Yabelo at the clan of the Oromo tribe. Here we will see how they live and the tribal elders will explain to us the signifigance of their clan in Ethiopias history. From here we will head back to our accomidations for the evening.
After beakfast we will set off towards Awasa, this drive will take a few hours as we do have some distance to cover but we will have a short break for lunch in Dilla. A short while later we will arrive in Awasa. Our afternoon is set aside to relax! and there is no better place in Ethiopia to unwind from the rigours of the past few days of travel than around the shores of Lake Awasa.
Bird lovers will love the variety of birds that are found in the area, as there are large populations of Kingfishers, herons, storks, crakes, darters and plovers calling the shores of this beautiful lake home, while weavers, hornbills and the endemic black winged lovebird are found in the fig forest and scrub surroundings.
Iflazing around lakeside or looking at birds are really not your thing, the afternoon can be spent strolling around the lakes foreshore footpath. Here you will be able to watch the local life go by as the sun set over the wooden boats that lay scattered on the lakes shore.
Around 7.30 we will head towards the lake to see the local fishing market as the fishermen begin to return from their mornings fishing. Boat loads of fish will float into shore as bartering locals greet the fresh mornings catch to seal the best deal of the day, while other fishermen expertly gut and scale their catch under the watchfull gaze of the ugly Marabou storks, that sit perched high in the nearby trees.
After our morning excursion we will have our breakfast before heading of 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 our insightful visit we will head into Wondo Genet for the night.
Early in the morning we will head out for a walk in the beautiful forest that surrounds Wondo Genet, our walk will take in the lush forest before taking us to the source of the natural springs that make this town famous. We will be given the opportunity to have a swim in the fresh clean therapeutical waters of the natural hot spring before heading back to have a meal in one of Ethiopias best restaurants.
After a filling meal we will settle in for a five hour drive back to 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.