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 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 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 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 Arbraminch. From our accommodation in Arbaminch 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 hotel’s 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 enrout (this is usually in Konso). From here we will drive to the largest village in Konso to see how these people live .
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 nights’ accommodation in Jinka.
After breakfast we will stock up on food and water for the next few days before we, begin winding our way towards the Mago Mursi National Park to visit the Omo Mursi people for the night. 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.
In the morning we will spend as much time with these amazing people as you wish before we have to bid our farewells and head onto our next destination. From the Murssi village we will go in search for some of the parks inhabitants. Kudu, hartebeest, waterbuck, dik dik , buffalo and vary rarely leopard are seen in the park. Our game drive will loop us around in the direction of the Hana Murssi, where we will see how life is for these rarely visited people. Once we have seen enough and feel it is time to move on we will get back on the road. Our destination is the most amazing and colourful market that is held in Giyo. Here you will find three tribes in one market. We will see the Bodi Murssi, Konso and Dimme people here as Giyo is on the borders of all three tribes territories.
After our visit we will head back to Jinka for lunch. 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 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. After inspecting the weekly market we will head towards one of the many Hamar villages that surround Turmi where we will spend the night.
After our first night with the Hamar people we will set off towards Turmi, where we will have breakfast and try our luck at finding a Bull jumping ceremony. The bull jumping ceremony is a right of passage for a maturing Hamar male and I have a lot of information about this in my Tribes section of my website. If there is a ceremony happening we will then settle down to the festivities that will carry on all through the night. Overnight in Hamar village.
After spending the morning with the Hamar people we will head back to Turmi, where we will once again have breakfast before setting off 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, before settling down for the night.
Once we have used the best of the morning light for some beautiful pictures, and 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. The afternoon will be left free so you will be able to recharge your batteries, physical one along with those of any appliances you have brought along with you.
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 will spend the afternoon learning about their life and their customs before spending the night with these wonderful people.
We will have a morning walk around the village before saying goodbye and thank you for our nights stay.
We will then head towards the seldom visited Nyagnagatom ( Bumi ) tribe. This is one of the least visited tribes in the area and therefore the least touristy. To reach the Nyagnagatom tribe we will once again have to board the traditional dugout canoes to cross the Omo River to visit their village. We will then walk to a nearby village where we will spend the night.
Unlike the other tribes we visit, we will not be taking photographs on this day as we do not wish to establish this as our reason to visit as it does tend to spoil some peoples experience with the tribes. This has been seen with the other tribes we have visited so far. Photographs will be permitted the following day.
In the morning we will pack our stuff in readying to leave, but before we do so we will then be given the opportunity to Photograph this beautiful tribe.
We drive back to Turmi where we will have lunch before moving around the local market. We will tour around the market, where most pictures 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.
After breakfast we will start the journey to the colourful Arbore tribe which is approximately 70 kilometres away. Here 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 defiantly 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. Overnight will be in Konso.
After breakfast we will travel to go and see the Konso market if they were not happening the day before. These markets only happen once a week so depending on our departure date from Addis, we will have seen this market the day before or on our visit today.
From here we will hit the road towards Yabelo. Once in town we wil have time for lunch before organising our accommodation for the night. After this we will drive to EL Sod, here we will see one of Ethiopia’s largest salt deposits, known as the House of salt. It is famed for its 100 meter deep crater lake. Approximately 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 Sheppard’s cattle.
Once we arrive back at our transport we 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 significance of their clan in Ethiopia’s history. From here we will head back to our accommodations 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.
If lazing around a lakeside or looking at birds is 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 sets 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 watchful gaze of the ugly Marabou storks, which sit perched high in the nearby trees.
After our morning excursion we will have our breakfast before heading 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 our insightful visit to Shashemane we will move onto Lake Langano, one of Ethiopia’s few lakes that has been declared Bilharzia free, which makes it perfect for swimming. Here we can wash away the grime and dust we have accumulated over the last few days of travellingBefore settling down for the night in Lagano.
Sadly we have to venture back to Addis Ababa today, but 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.