Travel to the isolated Omo Valley region in Ethiopia, where you can encounter multiple unique and rich cultures that have been isolated and maintained their traditions and customs for centuries. Learn about the various people groups saturated in this tiny part of the world, and encounter their daily lives as you learn about their heritage. Spend 10 days on this rich cultural tour in Ethiopia, and travel on long dirt roads to see parts of the country that many travelers do not get to see. Spend your nights in local and modest hotels in the closest established towns as you drive out to encounter centuries-old people groups and their traditions. Couple this tour with the Historic Route tour or a hike in the Simien Mountains.
Encounter centuries-old tribes in a relatively isolated pocket of Ethiopia
Experience daily life and traditions of these isolated and unique tribes
Observe and learn about the Hamer, Mursi, Karo, and the Konso people
See the famous hominid "Lucy" at the Archeological Museum in Addis Ababa
Arrive to Addis Ababa where you are met at the airport and drive to your nearby hotel for a brief rest after your long journey. This afternoon set out with your guide to explore the city and some of its attractions. Visit the National Museum, also called the Archaeological Museum, known for housing hominid finds such as "Lucy" and other fossils. Continue on to the Ethnographic Museum to learn about the various tribes in Ethiopia and their history. Finish with the Trinity Cathedral, one of the most ornate urban cathedrals in the world. Return to your hotel this evening.
Drive back to the airport today for your flight south to the town of Arba Minch, the largest town in southern Ethiopia and a jumping off point for exploring the Omo Valley. Set amidst lush green hills near Lakes Abaya and Chamo, Arba Minch is divided into two distinct areas called Sikela which is the downtown, residential and commercial area, and Shecha, which is the administrative center. Enjoy an hour-long boat ride on Lake Chamo this afternoon to visit the 'crocodile market', or a common feeding ground for crocodile and pelican. Settle in to your lodge this evening located in Nechisar National Park which spans the length of the isthmus separating Lake Abaya and Chamo. Spot kudu, zebra, eland, and gazelle in this area.
Located in the remote southwest of Ethiopia lies the thinly populated part of the world separating the mountainous center of Ethiopia from Kenya. The people here are largely untouched by outsiders who scarecly understood that an 'Ethiopia' existed up until about 70 years ago. Here you find Mago National Park, the wild Omo River, and various pastoralist tribes, including the Mrusi whose women boast lower lip plates as a way of communicating their worth. Stop first in Hamer territory, where personal appearance is important and who are adorned with metal bracelets and necklaces and elaborate beadwork. En route, stop to visit Konso and see their 800-year-old resource management system, rock terracing, a unique walled village. Overnight this evening in the small town of Turmi, a hub in the Hamer territory.
Drive Time today: 6-8 hours on paved and packed dirt roads
Today you venture out to Murelle to visit the Karo people who reside along the banks of the Lower Omo Valley River. The Karo people incorporate a lot of symbolism in the manner in which they dress and their rituals. Ornate body art, intricate headdresses, and body scarification are ways that they express status and beauty in their community and one way that they differ from their close neighbors, the Hamer people. They paint themselves with colored ochre, white chalk, yellow mineral rock, charcoal, and iron ore as a means of communicating to each other and decorating themselves. This small tribe numbers around 1,000 and are considered small but are the main non-nomadic agriculturalist group in Lower Omo Valley. Spend some time interacting with the Karo people before returning to Turmi this evening.
Drive to the town of Jinka today, one of the larger settlements in the area situated high on the plateau overlooking the Omo Valley below it to the west. Arrive to Jinka and drive a short distance to the nearby South Omo Research Centre and Museum to see some of the artifacts on display and learn about the history of the interactions of the tribes in Omo Valley. Settle in to your new hotel in Jinka tonight.
This morning you head off to the village of Key Afer to visit its market. A variety of goods are sold daily here, including rope, fabric, and beads as well as a number of food staples such as chicken, grains, and tribe decorations. A variety of cultures come together at this market, and most can be identified by their distinctive dress and beads that they wear. Many Ari people attend this market, who are the dominant people in this part of the Omo Valley and predominantly sell coffee and honey. The Benna people with their red-caly beads can also be seen along with their close relatives the Tsemai and Mali people. Return to Jinka this evening.
This market takes place on Thursdays. Another market in Dimeka just outside of Turmi is available as well on Saturdays.
Drive two hours today into the vast wilderness of Mago National Park. Founded in 1960, this national park houses nearly 100 mammal species and 300 bird species within its dense acacia forests and open savannah lands. Next set out to visit a Mursi village lying along the Mago River at the heart of the Omo Valley. This tribe is renowned for its fierce warriors and wild yet decorative appearance. Large circular clay labrets are placed in women's lower lip to reveal her worth prior to being married. Enjoy short hikes in the park today before returning to the lodge in Jinka this evening.
Set out to return to Arba Minch today by tracking back through the Arbore villages and a stopover in Konso village. The Konso are considered a 'pagan' tribe and have an interesting practice of erecting totem poles (called waka) over the graves of their dead and have numerous cults based around the breeding and veneration of snakes. The cornerstone for Konso culture is a highly specialized agricultural economy on the fertile hillsides of the valley through stone terracing. Overnight this evening in Arba Minch and enjoy your last night in southern Ethiopia.
This morning you drive to the airport in time for your flight on to Addis Ababa. After lunchtime and settling in to your hotel, set out on a guided city tour. Visit the Institution of Ethiopia Studies which houses a good collection of artifacts, religious artifacts, and musical instruments. Next drive through the large open air market as you finish off your last moments on the tour. Settle in for the the evening.
Day 10: Return Home
Transfer to the airport this morning in time for your return flight home out of Addis Ababa.
Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!