Southern Ethiopia

The lakes of the Rift Valley, the Omo Valley and its tribes – Harar, the islamic town

Day 1: Early morning arrival in Addis Abeba and transfer to the hotel. Visit of the city. Overnight stay.

Day 2: Early start and drive southwards towards Arba Minch in the lakes region. On the way, one can visit the prehistoric Tiya Stones, that became a World Heritage Site in 2005, the beautiful Guraghe and Wollayta villages and the ’false banana’ plantations or Musa Enseta. It is from this plant that the southern Ethiopian people make the flour they use to prepare the ’kotcho’, a kind of flat bread which is their basic food; it is similar to the ’injera bread’ produced in northern Ethiopia. The Swaynes Lodge is wonderfully situated, offering great views of the NechSarc park and of the two lakes, the Chamo (former Ruspoli) and Abyata (former Margherita), that are divided by a thin strip of land known as “God’s bridge”. Overnight stay.

Day 3: Arba Minch. In the morning, visit the ’Dorze’ village of Chencha, which is reached by walking up a steep trail that offers stunning views over the two lakes. The village is built with the traditional “houses with the nose” and is both original and interesting. The Dorze are enterprising people: as well as cultivating sorghum, the musa enseta (which they also use to build their huts) and other kind of wheat, they are beekeepers and cotton farmers. They use the cotton to create beautiful colourful fabrics which are then sold in markets in the whole country; one can also buy them in the village itself from the various sellers along the road. Lunch in the lodge. In the early afternoon, boat trip on the Chamo Lake to see the Nile crocodiles lying in the sun and in the water. They are the biggest in Africa and can reach up to 6m in length. There are also hippos, eagles, pelicans and the Nile perch which can exceed 200kg. If one wants, there are also entire day boat trips that take passengers to the opposite side of the lake to see the zebras that often come to the lake to drink. Overnight stay.

Day 4: early departure. The journey continues southwards to reach a village of the ‘Erbore’, one of the extraordinary tribes that live in the Omo Valley. They have characteristic hairstyles, hats, bizarre jewellery and paint their faces white. Unfortunately they are used to tourism and have lost some of their appeal but, even so, are of great cultural interest. Picnic. Arrival in Turmi late afternoon . Overnight stay at the Ewangadi Lodge.

Day 5: Turmi. Early morning visit of a typical ‘Dessanech’ village (Galeb), before returning to Turmi in time for the very interesting and lively market of the ‘Hammer, Karo and Dessanech’ people. If one is lucky, one can see to the “bull jumping” ceremony which marks a man’s passage to adulthood. Overnight stay.

Day 6: Turmi. Early morning departure from Turmi and cross the Omo River in canoes to visit the ‘Nyangatom and Karo’ villages. After crossing the river again, 4×4 cars then drive us to Kotcho, a village inhabited by the Karo people that offers a fantastic view of the Omo River. Picnic. Return to Turmi and overnight stay.

Day 7: early morning departure and drive to Jinka, passing ‘Tsemay, Ari and Benna’ villages. Picnic. Overnight stay.

Day 8: Jinka. Early departure from Jinka and after only a few kilometers enter the Mago River Park. A path leads to several ‘Mursi’ villages situated in the centre of the park. The Mursi people are characterized by the use (only by the women) of the “lip plate”, by curious and extravagant hats and earrings, and by big scarifications on the body which have various meanings. Later, during the drive back inside the park towards Jinka, antelopes, tsessebe, waterbuck, dik-dik and, very occasionally even lions and elephants can be seen. Picnic. Overnight stay.

Day 9: Early morning drive to Awasa. Drive through the ‘Konso’ region after crossing the Wayto river. The Konso people are famous for their terraced farming and “fortified” villages. The Konso are a particular tribe with very different traditions to those previously seen; they are also the only population in East Africa that build the ‘waka’ totems in memory of their dead, some of which are very old. Picnic. Overnight stay in Awasa.

Day 10: Drive to Awash, with the possibility of meeting various tribes along the road. On arrival, visit the waterfalls and the park of Awash. Overnight stay in the beautiful Awash Falls Lodge located just in front of the falls.

Day 11: Drive to Harar. On arrival, visit of the old town. After sunset, watch a fascinating old traditional ceremony: hyenas come outside the walls of the old town to be fed by the “men of the hyenas”. Overnight stay.

Day 12: early morning visit to the ‘chat’ market then drive to Diredawa. Visit of the town. Afternoon flight to Addis Abeba. Overnight stay.

Day 13: Addis Abeba. Free day for shopping. Dinner in a typical traditional restaurant with folk dances. Transfer to the airport and departure to Italy.