Tribes of Omo Valley
Tour code - FT - 007
- 10 Days & 9 Nights
- Availability - Any Time
- Awassa, Arbaminch, Dorze, Konso, Turmi, Jinka, Mursi, Langano
Ethiopia is not one of the world’s more crowded travel destinations, and while I have no idea what proportion of travelers to the country head south of Addis Ababa, I would be surprised to learn that it is more than 20%. Given the singularity of northern Ethiopia’s cultural sites, the relatively scant attention paid to the south is understandable enough. And yet, were north and south to split into separate countries tomorrow, southern Ethiopia could more than stand on its feet as a tourist destination in its own right.
Although most African countries pale by comparison with southern Ethiopia when it comes to historical sightseeing – rock-hewn churches, mysterious medieval stelae and remote monasteries being among its underrated attractions – the region is of primary interest for its natural and cultural attractions. Bale National Park is the best part of Ethiopia for viewing endemic wildlife, home to the country’s largest (though still scarce) populations of Ethiopian wolf and mountain nyala, as well as half the birds whose range is restricted to Ethiopia and Eritrea. In addition, there is the lovely string of lakes along the Rift Valley floor, the lush forests of Wondo Genet and southern Bale, the vast arid plains south of Dilla, the majestic setting of Nechisar National Park. This, in short, is a region of exceptional natural beauty and variety.
Culturally, the highlight of southern Ethiopia is South Omo, a remote zone tucked against the Kenyan border where a dozen or more different ethnic groups live – and decorate themselves – in a manner that scarcely acknowledges the 20th century ever happened, let alone the 21st. No less interesting are the Konso people and their walled stone villages, the Dorze with their tall conical huts, and the semi-nomadic Borena with their precious cattle herds and singing wells. Tangled into this rich cultural mosaic are the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethno-linguistic group, with one foot in the modern world, and the other hoisting them up onto the saddle to ride blanketed through the frosty Bale Highlands.
Southern Ethiopia lacks for any clearly defined tourist circuit, and it would be limiting rather than helpful to attempt to describe it in terms of a prescribed loop. The main regional transport hub is Shashemene, which lies at the junction of the roads north to Addis Ababa, west to Arba Minch and South Omo, south to Hawassa (Awassa), Dilla and Moyale, and east to Dodola and Bale. Passing through Shashemene.
There is an obscure but rewarding route running south from Addis Ababa to Butajira and Hosaina via Melka Kunture Prehistoric Site, the rock-hewn Church of Adadi Maryam, and the Tiya stelae field. Another follows the Rift Valley and its lakes from Addis Ababa south to the junction town of Shashemene and city of Hawassa (Awassa). A third covers the wonderful trekking country and wildlife of Bale Mountains National Park and environs. A fourth covers the road from Hawassa south to Moyale on the Kenyan border. There’s also the option to concentrate on Arba Minch and Nechisar National Park, or on the cultural wonders of Konso and South Omo.
- Botteld water
- Accomudation / Hotel / Lodge
- Tour Guide / Local Guides / Driver Guide
- Entrance Fees
- Boat trip on Lake Chamo
- All transportation in destination location
Day 1ADDIS - AWASSA
Depart south from Addis Ababa via Butajira. On the way you will visit the archeological sites of Tiya (ancient stelae field and UNESCO World Heritage Site), Adadi Maryam (a rock-hewn church similar to those in Lalibela) and Melka Kunture (pre-historic tool-making site). Final destination for the day is Awassa. Overnight in Awassa (hotel).
Overnight in Hotel
Day 2AWASSA - DOREZE / AREBAMINCH
In the morning after breakfast, visit the fish market on the shores of Lake Awassa and then proceed driving to Dorze, set in the highlands above Arba Minch. The Dorze people are known for their tall beehive-like houses and their fine cotton weaving. You will visit the village and learn about the daily lives of these industrious people. If today is market day (in Dorze village on Monday and Thursday and in nearby Chencha on Tuesday and Saturday), that will be visited. Overnight in Dorze in traditional Dorze hut (shared toilet facilities) or continue to Arba Minch for overnight
Overnight in Hotel / Lodge
e In the morning, visit the local market in Dorze (Monday and Thursday) or Chencha (Tuesday and Saturday). Afterwards, continue driving to Arba Minch. In the afternoon, take a boat trip on Lake Chamo to visit the “crocodile market” and the local hippos. Overnight in Arba Minch Overnight in Hotel.
Day 4ARBAMINCH - TURMI
After breakfast, depart from Arba Minch to Turmi. On the way you will pass through the village of Weyto (market day Saturday), which is home to the Tsemai tribe. Continue through the Weyto Valley to Erbore, where you will have a brief visit to a local Erbore village (market day is Saturday). Finally, proceed to Turmi, home of the Hamer tribe. At night, you can see the traditional night dancing of the Hamer tribe, known as evangadi. Overnight in Turmi Overnight in Hotel / Lodge
In the morning, take a day trip to Omorate to visit the Dassenech tribe. Here you will cross the Omo River by local boat and enter a Dassenech village. Afterwards, return to Turmi (Monday is market day) for a visit to a local Hamer village. If there is Jumping of the Bulls traditional Hamer coming-of-age ceremony, that will be visited. Overnight in Hotel / Lodge
Day 6TURMI - JINKA
Depart for Jinka, via Dimeka and Key Afar. Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days in Dimeka, which is one of the most colorful markets in the area and is visited by many tribes, including Hamer, Benna and Karo. Afterwards, continue to Jinka. Overnight in Hotel / Lodge
In the morning, drive through the Mago National Park to a local village of the Mursi tribe. The Mursi are known for their lower lip and earlobe plates. In the afternoon, after returning to Jinka, you can visit the South Omo Museum & Research Center to learn more about the local tribes. Alternatively, take a hike in the surrounding hills to visit a local Ari village. Overnight in Hotel / Lodge
Day 8JINKA - KONSO
After breakfast, depart from Jinka to Konso, via Key Afar. Thursday is market day in Key Afar, where you will see the Benna and Tsemai tribes trading goods. This is another very popular market in the region. After the visit, proceed to Konso (market days are Mondays and Thursdays). The Konso people are known for their wooden statues, known as wakas, which are erected in honor of dead heroes as well as their innovative agricultural terracing. Today you will have the opportunity to visit a local village and the cultural museum displaying many waka statues. Time permitting, you can also visit the “natural New York Village”, named after the tall sand formations resembling skyscrapers. Overnight in Hotel / Lodge
Day 9KONSO - LANGANO
After breakfast, depart from Konso to Lake Langano. On the way you will visit the Senkele Wildlife Sanctuary, which was established to protect the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest. Continue to Lake Langano for overnight Overnight in Hotel / Lodge / Comping
Day 10LANGANO - ADDIS
After a morning swim in the lake, depart north to Addis Ababa. On the way, you may visit the Abiatta-Shala National Park. Lake Shala, with its deep blue waters is the deepest lake in Ethiopia at 236m. Lake Abiatta is a soda lake at which thousands of flamingos can be seen at various times of the year.
END OF TOUR