Western & Southern Ethiopia (15 Days)
About this Tour:
This is a real adventure expedition that starts in the still largely unknown Western part of Ethiopia, where not only the last rainforests of the country are found, but also where the famous Arabica coffee is said to have its origin. Few travelers would expect such lush vegetation in Ethiopia at all. We continue travelling to the southwest to visit the Surma tribe, which still lives in almost total isolation. We then cross into Omo National Park and get to know many more fascinating tribes of the Omo Valley. We drive until the shores of Lake Turkana on the Kenyan border, where seclusion and pure adventure await us. On our way back to Addis Ababa we have many more highlights ahead of us, such as meeting the Mursi tribe in Mago National Park, the Konso region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or the wild nature around Arba Minch, to name just a few. This is a truly spectacular trip.
- Exploring the capital Addis Ababa
- Rainforests Bonga with rich flora and fauna
- Visit an organic coffee farm
- Visit of the Surma tribe, one of the most isolated and traditional ethnic groups in Ethiopia
- Visit to the Omo and Mago National Parks (UNESCO World Heritage) with the fascinating tribes of the Omo Valley (Hamer, Karo, Dassanech, Mursi)
- Camping among the Dassanech people at Lake Turkana
- Visit the colourful markets of the Omo Valley
- Authentic encounters with local communities
- Visit to Konso Region (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Boat safari on Lake Chamo with Africa’s largest crocodiles, hippos and numerous bird species
Included in the travel price
- 10 nights with breakfast in simple to good hotels and lodges
- 4 nights camping with full board
- Transfer by road in Toyota 4x4 Landcruiser
- Professional tour guide (English, German, French, Italian and Spanish-speaking available)
- All local guides, rangers and scouts
- Cook for the camping nights
- All entrance fees to the villages and sights
- Traditional dinner on the last evening before departure
- 1 liter of mineral water per day
- Tour code: WET-WESE-15
- Accommodation: basic / middle-class hotels and lodges / camping in Kibisch Surma and Lake Turkana, optionally also in Turmi and/or Jinka.
- Number of domestic flights: 0
- Required fitness level: no special requirements
Day 1: Arrival in Addis Ababa and City Tour
Upon arrival at Bole International Airport, you will be transferred to your reserved hotel. Depending on your arrival time, we have various sightseeing options:
- Mount Entoto with the best views over the capital.
- Institute of Ethiopian Studies, where you can see a variety of artifacts from all the different regions reflecting the history and culture of the country
- National Museum which among other exhibits the 3.5-million-year-old bones of Lucy.
- Trinity Cathedral: this is the burial place of members of the imperial family and noted patriots; the cathedral is the most magnificent of its kind in the country, ornamented with carvings, mosaics and other artistic works.
- The Mercato, the largest open-air market in Africa
Accommodation: Hotel, Addis Ababa
Day 2: Addis Ababa – Jimma (350 km)
We start our journey from Addis Ababa heading west to Jimma (approx. 8 hrs). After arriving in Jimma we will visit the palace of the former Kaffa King Ras Abba Jifar II with a view of the city and the adjacent coffee forests. The palace is a relic of a glorious past, when the coffee trade brought wealth and power to the king. The then economically strong region remained independent of the Ethiopian Empire until 1930.
Accommodation: Hotel, Jimma
Day 3: Jimma – Bonga – Mizan Teferi (220 km)
After breakfast we continue west to Bonga, in the heart of the Kaffa region and surrounded by fantastic mountain rainforest. We continue to Mizan Teferi. On the way we stop at a local coffee farm and get an insight into the local coffee production. This is one of the greenest and most fertile regions of Ethiopia.
Accommodation: Hotel, Mizan Teferi
Day 4: Mizan Teferi – Kibish Surma
Today we continue our journey to Kibish. Between alluvial forests, grasslands and bush savannah we approach the land of the Surma. The Surma are pastoralists, and the cattle they own determine their daily lives in many ways. The tribe is also known for the plates that women carry in their lower lips, white ritual body painting, and body scarification.
Accommodation: Camping in Kibish
Day 5: Full day in Kibish Surma
Today we will visit several Surma villages and gain an insight into their way of life and traditions. As it can get very hot during the day, we make our visits either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. In between we can enjoy the time at the river, which is only five minutes away from the camp. We also hope to witness a ritual stick fight (donga). Donga fights often take place in September.
Accommodation: Camping in Kibish
Day 6: Kibish – Nyangatom
We set off early in the morning and cross the Omo National Park with its fascinating flora and fauna. Established in 1959 as Ethiopia’s first national park, the park is home to the country’s densest animal population. With a bit of luck we can see buffalo, gazelle and even elephants. Around noon we should reach the village of Nyangatom at the southern end of the national park. Here we will set up camp and admire the way of life of this fascinating ethnic minority.
Accommodation: Camping at the Nyangatom tribe
Day 7: Nyangatom – Turmi
After breakfast we continue to Turmi. Turmi is the center of the southern Omo Valley and is known for its traditional events; with a bit of luck we may even take part in a Hamer wedding ceremony, with the legendary bull jumping ceremony and much more! In the late afternoon we visit a Hamer village and experience the friendly Hamer tribe in their daily life. We may also witness a moonlight dance (Evangadi), a traditional dance performed by young Hamer men and women.
Accommodation: Lodge, Turmi
Day 8: Turmi – Lake Turkana
Today we continue south to the remote Lake Turkana where we will camp on the shore of the lake with the Dasanach tribe. The Dasanach are a Cushitic ethnic group living in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and southern Sudan. Their main homeland is in the Southern Omo Valley, bordering Lake Turkana.
Accommodation: Camping at Lake Turkana with the Dasanach tribe
Day 9: Lake Turkana – Turmi
We return to Turmi where we will again enjoy the comfort of a lodge.
Accommodation: Lodge, Turmi
Day 10: Turmi – Karo tribe (55 km)
In the morning we drive to the village of Korcho on the banks of the Omo River. This is where the Karo tribe lives, which nowadays only numbers around 3’000. Among other things, this ethnic group is known for their extravagant hairstyles, their body scars and body painting with natural colors. The latter symbolizes through the pattern used that a warrior has been brave in the fight against an enemy or a wild animal. The use of chalk for their body painting is also widespread among the Karo. We will camp at this beautiful site with stunning views of the Omo River and learn about the daily life of this remote tribe.
Accommodation: Camping in Korcho with the Karo tribe
Day 11: Karo – Ebore Village – Key Afer Market – Jinka (135 km)
Today after breakfast we visit the colorful market in Dimeka (Saturdays only) frequented by several tribes of the Omo Valley. We then continue to Jinka, where we arrive in the afternoon. On the way we will stop at an Ebore village to see another ethnic group of the Omo Valley.
Accommodation: Eco-Omo Lodge or Camping, Jinka
Day 12: Jinka – Mago National Park – Konso (285 km)
We drive again to the Mago National Park and visit the Mursi tribe (travel time approx. 2 hours each way). The Mursi are certainly one of the most unique tribes in Africa. Like the Surma, the Mursi women also use huge round lip plates. After lunch we continue our way to Konso (about 3.5 hours). We tour the village complex and the local museum, and we are usually also received at the home of the Konso king, which also houses the family cemetery and mummies. The Konso have a rich agricultural culture, building elaborate terraces and walls that protect their fields and villages from cattle damage and flooding. Konso is another UNESCO world heritage site.
Accommodation: Lodge, Konso
Day 13: Konso – Arba Minch (110 km)
Today we continue our journey to Arba Minch, set in beautiful countryside between Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo, with lush green hills surrounding the Rift Valley lakes. We take a boat trip on Lake Chamo and look out for Africa’s largest crocodiles (up to 6m long), hippos and a wide variety of birds. We then visit the interesting Dorze people high in the Guge mountains overlooking the Abaya and Chamo lakes and the lush green hills and valleys.
Accommodation: Dorze Lodge
Day 14: Arba Minch – Hawassa (250 km)
After breakfast we drive to Hawassa (approx. 5 hours), the capital of the Southern People’s Nations. In Hawassa, you can recover from the rigors of the journey so far at the 4-star resort of legendary Ethiopian runner Haile Gebre Selassie. From sauna, steam bath to massage, nothing should be missing here, and the sunset over Lake Hawassa is usually fantastic!
Accommodation: Haile Resort, Hawassa
Day 15: Hawassa – Addis Ababa/Departure (280 km)
In the morning we will visit the authentic Hawassa Fish Market where you can taste the freshly caught and fried tilapia from the lake. We then drive back to Addis Ababa (approx. 4 hours) along Lake Langano in the heart of the Rift Valley. In the evening, you are treated to a farewell dinner at one of Addis Ababa’s traditional restaurants, complete with cultural songs, dances and traditional food and drinks, before being transferred to the airport for your international flight
End of the tour