17 Days Tour to Omo Valley
Draft Tour Itinerary Program
This tour sees us heading to the most remote corners of Southern Ethiopia. Drive times are considerably longer and overnight stops are necessary in the more major towns. Tribal tensions do still exist and there are some wild characters in this part of the world, so it is advised to stay in these centres. Whilst staying in tribal villages we will not have a care in the world as they are governed by tribal rule. Visitors are always welcome and are always welcomed with piecing stares on arrival, and wide open arms and hour long handshakes once the chief has given his appeared. A tent is necessary for this tour as we will be staying in remote areas that sometimes do not have tourist class hotels. In this instance we will pitch tent in the Local Police stations.
We leave Addis Ababa mid morning as we are stopping in Jima for the evening. This is a 5 hour drive. Coffee breaks and lunch will be available along the way.
We will wake early to have breakfast before heading off towards Mizan Teferi. Here we will visit the 9337 hectare Bebeka Coffee plantation, which is the Ethiopia’s largest and oldest coffee farm. Whilst in the area we will also visit the Unesco registered tropical forest that will give you an insight into what the area looked like in the past when the area was covered in such forrest. We will stay in Mizan Teferi.
We will once again rise early for breakfast before heading towards Tulkit. Before we venture out of town we will stock up on food for the coming days whilst we are staying with the various tribes. The drive to Tulkit is an interesting one that may take some time so we will stay in Tulkit for the night.
Day Four and Five.
After breakfast we will head onto Kibish ( named after the river that bisects it). This town is not found on many maps or in any guide books and if it is it is due to that fact that it is the border point of Ethiopia, Southern Sudan and Kenya. Whilst in the area we will visit various Surma villages and learn all we can about these fascinating people. Due to the distances we have to travel to the Surma, they are the most off the map tribes we can freely visit in Ethiopia, so it is really worth the time and effort to travel this far. We will try to overnight in one of the villages but if this is not an option we will pitch a tent inside the town’s police station. This is usually treated as the local campground for foreigners.
Another day of interesting driving. So another early start after breakfast. Today we are heading towards Bonga. We will reach our destination late in the afternoon.
We head directly back to Jimma after breakfast. This will afford us the time to visit a number of Historical places that were built by King Aba Jifar whilst he ruled the Kafa kingdom at the end of the 19th century. The buildings look like they would be more at place in Americas wild west rather than in this far corner of Ethiopia, but they do make and interesting place to visit and offers us an insight into an interesting time in Ethiopian history.
The morning starts just as the last few have, with and early rise, breakfast and a cloud of dust following us up yet another road. Next stop, Arba minch. We usually try to make this day a Sunday so whilst touring the many villages ahead of us, our visits will coincide with their weekly markets.
We will arrive in Arba minch in the late afternoon, this will allow us to have a meal and a drink or two whilst watching the days light seep from the sky high above the Nechistar National Park and the two lakes it dissects - Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo.
Not such an early rise this morning, but after breakfast we will head towards Turmi. We will arrive in time for lunch and the opportunity to catch the colourful Hamar market. 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 and is usually held after a day at the market. If there are no such ceremonies, 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 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. We will then head straight to Dimeka so we can catch the Bashada and Banna tribes market. From here it will be back to Turmi for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast we will head to Jinka. Once we arrive there we will have lunch before carrying on our way to the Hanna Murssi territory. This Journey will take us into the Mago National Park, so we can keep our eyes open for some of the parks inhabitants, Kudu, Hartebeest, Waterbuck and Dik dik are common in the park. We will overnight with the Hanna Murssi.
We will spend the morning with in the Hanna, observing and participating in their daily chores and basically seeing 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 to the biggest and most inaccessible Omo Murssi village called Moiso village. Here we will see and stay with the biggest concentration of Omo Murssi people.
After what would have been an eye opening night we will bid our farewells to the Omo Murssi. We will journey towards the Mago National Parks headquarters for breakfast. Along the way we will keep an eye out for the ever elusive Leopard, as it is said that this is where they are usually sighted within the park.
After our breakfast we will continue to cut through the Park to Korcho village, here we will 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.
After stretching our legs around Turmi we will head towards a Hamar village called Wognariki. Here we will spend the afternoon and evening with the Hamar people who will continue to dance their way through the night. Overnight will be spent in Wognariki.
We will more than likely be woken by the sounds of village life early on in the morning. We will spend some time with the Hamar before heading off again towards Arba Minch. En Route we will stop to visit the colourful Arbore Tribe, some 70km’s out side Turmi.
We should arrive in Arba Minch mid afternoon allowing us to spend the afternoon cruising on Lake Chamo where we will see large populations of white pelican, hippo’s and the famous crocodile market. Overnight will be in Arba Minch.
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 ot for an evening meal at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant that has a vast array of traditional dancing.