National Geographic magazine has called the Omo Valley “Africa’s last frontier.” Home to approximately 225,000 people, the valley is busting with diversity; there are nine main tribes and many smaller ones all speaking their own language, practicing unique customs and rituals that identify to them only. Life has evolved slowly here as tribes have clung to their life practices while the world around them has changed. Now their beauty and fanciful dress are attracting attention as they welcome you to their villages, interact at local markets and dance with you at nightly rituals.
Tour 1: February 9 to February 17
Tour 2: June 7 to June 15
Tour 3: July 12 to July 20
Tour 4: August 16 to August 24
Tour 5: November 1 to November 9
Meeting PlaceWe will pick you up upon your arrival at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport
TransportationToyota Landcruiser 4X4
MealsEthiopian cuisine and western foods
AccomodationComfort and tourist class hotels and lodges
Group SizeMinimum 2 people
Price$1,889.00 Per person, double occupancy. Add $338 for single room supplement, if you wish single room.
Options2 night pre-tour program in and around Addis Ababa. $496 Per person, double occupancy.
Upon arrival in Addis Ababa, our representatives will meet you at Bole International Airport and transfer you to the Hotel. Enjoy the morning of leisure. After lunch visit historical sites including the National Archaeological Museum, to view the 3.6 million year old remains of “Lucy”, whose skeleton was discovered in 1974. Continue to the Ethnological Museum at Addis Ababa University; a great insight into the many different peoples of Ethiopia and their respective cultures. After visiting Holy Trinity Cathedral, we will end the day with a drive to the top of Mount Entoto, which rises to an altitude of 10,500 feet and offers a panoramic view of the metropolis.
Capital Hotel & Spa (L,D)
This morning drive to the rift valley and arrive Langano. Check in and refresh at the Resort. in the afternoon to visit Abiyata Shalla National Park to view two lakes with its population of flamingos and the hot springs at Shalla. Back in to your Lake Lagano accommodation, a resort offering both a serene beach front as well as a vast cliff-top with a breath taking view over the lake.
Sabana Beach Resort (B, L, D)
This morning drive in to Arbaminch; before arriving Arbaminch visit the village of the Dorze tribe. Walk amongst the Dorze people and appreciate their beehive-shaped homes. This tribe are respected as expert weavers. Also, they are expert farmers and witness their ingenious terracing technique, allowing them to farm efficiently along the mountainside and yet prevent soil erosion. Late afternoon, enjoy a refreshing boat trip on Lake Chamo, home to huge crocodiles, hippos and a variety of bird-life.
Haile Resort (B, L,D)
Visit the colorful village of the Konso tribe. A pagan society, the Konso erect eerie wooden totems, replete with phallic symbols over the graves of the dead. They also have numerous cults based around the breeding and veneration of serpents. The cornerstone of Konso culture, however, is a highly specialized and successful agricultural economy that, through terracing buttressed with stone, enable these people to extract a productive living from the none-too-fertile hills and valleys that surround them. This will be an excellent day to mingle among the people, take photographs with them and learn firsthand about a culture virtually untouched by the outside world. Later in the afternoon arrive in Jinka, located at the foot of Mago National Park.
Eco Omo Lodge (B,L,D)
This morning drive to a Mursi tribal village. The tribe is renowned for the now-uncommon custom of their women, upon reaching maturity, having their lower lips slit and circular clay discs inserted. Return back to Jinka for lunch and this afternoon proceed to the Ari Village compound. Learn and understand how the local people process different foods and alcohol.
(B, L, D)
This morning proceed to Dimeka to visit the colorful Hamer tribe.
They are well known for their remarkable hairstyles made of ochre, water, and binding resin., resulting in copper-colored locks. This is a sign of wealth for this tribe. The Hamers are also considered the masters of body decoration. Continue to the town of Turmi.
The Hammers have a traditional Bull jumping which is rite of passage for a younger son; coming of age must be passing through this ritual so as to get marry. The young man must jump, minimum four times, over a line of more than 10 bulls. He has to be nude while in jumping except for a few cords bound across the chest as a symbol of the childhood he is about to leave behind him. This event lasts three days, on completion of this test, the young man joins the ranks of the maza - Maza are other men that have successfully completed the bull jumping event. During this ceremony, the women of the tribe provoke the maza to whip them on their bare backs. This is extremely painful and causes severe scaring on the women. The scars are a symbol of devotion to the men and are encouraged by the tribe. After a successful bull jumping, there is an evening dancing ceremony called Evangadi, a Hammer tradition. The Hammers have unique huts that are made up of mud, wood and straw. Since this is not a day to day activities, we are not included it as a part of the program, but you may have a chance to see this at late afternoon and if the chances is there, you would be asked to pay $22 p/p from your pocket to the community.
Buska Lodge (B, L, D)
Turmi is our new base as we explore the region and meet the different tribes who share this valley but live a life uniquely their own. Drive to the Murulle area. Murile (also spelled Muelle and Murli) lies on the banks of the Omo River, and is a popular base for exploring this area. The two main tribes who live here are the Karo and the Hamer, both of whom practice scarification and have elaborate hairstyles. The Karo are experts in body painting, using clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on their faces, chests, arms and legs. These designs have no special symbolic significance but instead are created for fun and aesthetic effect, as each artist tries to outdo another. Karo men also sculpt and shave their hair into extravagant shapes, with special ochre "caps" of hair usually containing several ostrich feathers.
In the morning drive back to Arba Minch en- route visit the Bena tribes. Bena people are neighbors with the Hamer tribe and it is believed that the Bena actually originated from them centuries ago. Just like most of the indigenous tribes in the lower Omo Valley, the Bena practice ritual dancing and singing. The Bena look very similar to the Hamer and are often called the Hamer-Bena. Common rituals and traditions of other tribes are shared by the Bena. One of the distinctive aspects of the Bena/Hamar cultures is the "bull-jumping ceremony" that enables a young man to make the transition into adulthood. After having successfully jumped a row of bulls, the young man is eligible to select his wife. The Bena men often have their hair dressed up with a colorful clay cap that is decorated with feathers. Both the men and women wear long garments and paint their bodies with white chalk. Women of the tribe wear beads in their hair that is held together with butter.
Haile Resort (B, L, D)
Return to Addis Ababa and departure
This morning commence our drive to Addis Ababa and stopping for a sightseeing tour of the Unesco World Heritage Site Tiya – an archaeological site of ancient Ethiopians. On arrival in the capital city enjoy an early evening dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant offering a folkloric show and the popular coffee ceremony. After sampling the various national dishes, proceed to the airport for your late night flight back home.
(B, L, D)
Two-night Pre-tour Trip
Excursion trip to Debre Libanos Monastery
Upon arrival in Addis Ababa, our staff will meet you at Bole International Airport and provide transport to the Harmony Hotel. After check-in, we’ll drive about 70 miles - approximately two hours’ drive.
Debre Libanos is an important monastic center for Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. The monastery was founded by the renowned 13th century mystic, Saint Teklehaimanot, and there is a small cave near the church (which is of recent construction) where he is said to have stood for seven years on one leg, until the other wasted away and dropped off.
On this tour visitors can combine history and culture with some good bird watching; as we pass through the Sululta Plain (20 miles) we can see Black-winged plovers, Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged geese, Common Cranes and Wheat ears.
On arrival at Debre Libanos, we will first stop at the Jemma River gorge. The Jemma River is one of the tributaries of the Nile, and there is a drop of nearly 1000 meters to the valley below. Here we find one of Ethiopia’s endemic mammals, the Gelada baboon or bleeding heart baboon.
Leaving the Gorge we proceed to the church. After the church, visitors can make the climb to the cave of St Teklehaimanot. Near the cave monks may show visitors the remains of some 300 monks, slaughtered in 1936 by the Italian invaders. Mussolini and the fascist authorities saw the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as one of the key elements of an independent Ethiopian identity, and thought that by carrying out the massacre they would cow the Church and by extension the Ethiopian people into submission. Rather, this atrocity fed the flames of resistance.
Finally we will walk downhill to the 17th Century Portuguese Bridge.Here we can expect to see plenty of birdlife. We will have lunch in the Ethio-German Lodge.
Harmony Hotel (L)
Excursion trip to Melka Kunture, Adadi Maryam and Tiya
After breakfast drive 33 miles south of the capital and you encounter one of the fascinating Paleolithic sites in Ethiopia, Melka Kunture.
Archeologists have been conducting a research dig by the Awash River at this point, where they believe mankind’s earliest ancestors lived here at the entrance to the gorge some two million years ago. They left behind tools, traces of meals and shelters which are now the focus of archeological interest.
The tour continues an half hour further south at the rock-hewn church of Adadi Maryam. The church was built in the same style as its famous contemporaries in Lalibela.
In the midst of our visit we will have picnic lunch.
From Adadi Maryam drive 27 miles to Tiya.
Tiya is a World Heritage Site registered by UNESCO. It is a unique archeological site containing 36 monuments, including 32 carved stelae covered with symbols.
Drive back from Tiya (50 miles) to Addis Ababa on a good asphalt road, arriving in Addis Ababa late afternoon.
Harmony Hotel (B, L)
Fathia O.: Everything was perfect...amazing, very professional, highly knowledgeable..
Chris Z.: My son and I enjoyed every minute in this fascinating country. We are now looking forward to arranging a similar tour...
Denise V.: I have had an unforgettable adventure and brought home very fond memories of Ethiopia and its people.