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Simien Mountains in Ethiopia

Isolated Tribes of Ethiopia

Example 9 Day Tour
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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 9 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.
A Hamer tribe womanTraditional huts in Omo ValleyA woman from the Erbore tribeSouvenirs from the Hamer people in Omo ValleyMursi tribe women wear lip platesEthiopian beadingAfrican coffee ceremonyTraditional dressTraditional homes in Omo ValleyLaying sorghum out to dry in the sunSimien Mountains in Ethiopia
Highlights
  • 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
Places Visited
  • Africa
  • Ethiopia
  • Addis Ababa
  • Arba Minch
  • Buska Lodge
  • Eco-Omo Safari Lodge
  • Jinka
  • Jupiter International Hotel
  • Mago National Park
  • Omo Valley
  • Paradise Lodge
  • Turmi
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa

Arrive at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, go through customs and immigration screening, grab your luggage, and then make your way through the Arrivals Hall out to the parking lot. Your guide meets you here and transfers you to your hotel.

Day 2: Fly Addis | Arbaminch, drive to Chencha (48 km & 2 hrs.)

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After a restful night in Addis, check out of the hotel and take a flight to Arba Minch, the largest town in southern Ethiopia, which is nestled among the lush green hills near Lakes Abaya and Chamo. The numerous nearby springs that result in a groundwater forest gave Arba Minch its name. Arbaminch, which means "forty springs" in Amharic, is divided into two separate towns. Shecha (on higher ground) and the center of Sikela are both connected by buses and taxis. The administrative hub of uptown is called Shecha. Sikela, which contains the city's business, industrial, and residential districts, is only 2.5 miles distant. The Nechisar National Park entrance is located on the eastern side of Sikela and spans the isthmus between Lake Abaya to the north and Lake Chamo to the south. Upon arrival, drive to Chencha Village, the Dorze people's ancestral home. Known for their cotton weaving, the Shammas also have unusual houses that have loomed thatch roofs that resemble beehives.

Day 3: Boat trip at Lake Chamo | Drive to Jinka via Konso (250 km & 5 - 6 hrs.)

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy a one-hour boat ride on the lake to Azo Gebeya in the morning. The so-called "crocodile market," one of the best features in the park, is not a market but a gathering place for crocodiles and pelicans. The boat trip includes viewing hippos and crocodiles from very close range. Then later, you set off to Jinka en route Konso; the Konso region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its rich culture. The Konso people inhabit a region with low, terraced hills. They are known to be one of the hardest-working groups in the country. Some of the best coffee in the county is grown on their intricately terraced slope. They have an articulate tradition and erect peculiar totems on the graves of their deceased. After your visit in Konso, you continue to Jinka.

Day 4: Excursion to Mago, visit Mursi Tribe (140 km& 3 hrs.)

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today you take a day excursion to Mago National Park to visit the Mursi village. The Mursi are one of the most original ethnic groups. They live in very low huts made of straw leaves. Women like to wear terra cotta on their enormously stretched lower lips and ear lobes, while men are famous for their hairstyles. The tribe is famed for their fierce warrior disposition and wildly decorative appearance, with large circular clay labrets that the women wear on the lower lip. The value of a woman in marriage greatly increases with the size of her lip plate. She takes her plate off to eat and sleep. Some women, especially elder women, are without their lip plates. They are easily distinguished by how their long, distended lips hang down from their mouths. In the afternoon, visit the South Omo Research Center and Museum to view some of the artifacts on display and learn about the history of the interactions of the tribes in Omo Valley.

Day 5: Drive to Turmi (150 km & 6 hrs.) | Excursion to Karo people (130 km & 4 hrs.)

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Drive to Turmi after breakfast, and en route, if it is Thursday, you can visit Key Afer market. The small town of Key Afer in the Lower Omo Valley holds the largest market in Omo Valley, where three different tribes come together to buy and sell once a week. The market brings together people from the Tsemai, Hamer, and Bena tribes. Everything from fruits and vegetables to wood, honey, and butter to silverware and animals is sold here in the open-air market, which brims with color and sound. Although some are not tourist-friendly, the vast majority of women sellers are happy to pose for your pictures with their wares. You can continue to drive to Trumi, check in to your hotel, and in the afternoon take an excursion to Murulle to visit the Karo people, who reside along the banks of the Lower Omo River. The Karo incorporate rich cultural symbolism into their rituals and use ornate body art, intricate headdresses, and body scarification to emphasize beauty and status within their community. This small but lively tribe numbers under 1,000, but they are the main non-nomadic agriculturalist group in the Lower Omo Valley. Karo can be differentiated from neighboring tribes by placing a higher emphasis on body and face painting. They paint themselves daily with colored ochre, white chalk, yellow mineral rock, charcoal, and pulverized iron ore, all resources found in this area. Karo body painting is a deep aspect of their culture; they are communicating as well as decorating. The experience of visiting the people of this incredibly rich, proud, yet adapting culture gives amazing insight into Ethiopia's indigenous peoples. After the visit, proceed to your hotel.

Day 6: Excursion to Omoratte (150 km & 3 hrs.)

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today, take the excursion to Omoratte after breakfast, where you can have a cultural experience with the Geleb/Dassenech people, the inhabitants of the lower Omo River Valley. Then visit the Hammer people in the afternoon, one of the most beautiful and dignified people in the Omo basin. Women wear elegant leather skirts festooned with tiny pearls. Personal appearance is important to the Hammer, and they are striking indeed. Their features and adornments include high cheekbones, elaborate beads and leather, elaborate hairstyles, and thick copper necklaces.

Day 7: Drive to Turmi - Jinka (130 km & 3 hrs.) | Fly back to Addis

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Depart to Jinka today to catch your flight back to Addis Ababa.

Day 8: City tour of Addis

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You start your city tour of Addis with a drive to Mount Entoto. A historical place where Emperor Menelik II resided and built his palace when he came from Ankober and founded Addis Ababa. It is considered a sacred mountain and has many monasteries. Situated at an altitude between 2,600 and 3,100 meters, you can have a magnificent view of the city. Next, drive to the National Museum, which houses the nation's artistic treasures and many of the most precious archaeological finds, such as the fossilized remains of early hominids. The most famous is "Lucy," the partial skeleton of a specimen of Australopithecus afarensis. The well-known Lucy is said to be 3.2 million years old. After your visit to the museum, continue to drive to Trinity Cathedral Church. This church is the highest-ranking Orthodox cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was built to commemorate Ethiopia's liberation from Italian occupation. The second most important place of worship in Ethiopia is the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum. 

Visit the Ethnological Museum in the afternoon. Set within Haile Selassie’s former palace and surrounded by the beautiful gardens and fountains of Addis Ababa University’s main campus, it is easily one of the finest museums in Africa.

Day 9: Departure

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning, transfer to the airport in time for your return flight home out of Addis Ababa.

Accommodations

Paradise Lodge

Paradise Lodge
Paradise Lodge

Buska Lodge

Buska Lodge

Eco-Omo Safari Lodge

Eco-Omo Safari Lodge
Eco-Omo Safari Lodge
Eco-Omo Safari Lodge

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace Lobby
The Grand Palace Standard Room
The Grand Palace Gym

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$5,262

Notes

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Rates based on group of 2 in double occupancy.
Contact us for larger group rates.
Included
  • 8 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 9 Dinners
  • 8 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Photography Fees
  • Hotel accommodation on a double/twin room occupancy on bed and breakfast basis
  • All private airport transfer and ground transportation as per the program
  • Drinking water throughout the trip
  • An English speaking professional escort guide
  • Local guide
  • Porter fee
  • All entrances and 15% tax fee
  • Boat Cruise on Lake Chamo
  • Day use room
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Internal Flights Addis Ababa - Arba Minch - Addis Ababa
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Early check-in

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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