Hidden Tribes Of Ethiopia


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Visit the fascinating tribes of the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia


Drive from Addis to Arba Minch, (450km) via Hossana

The name of Addis Ababa, in Amharic, means “new flower”. Founded in 1886 by Menelik II, it is located at 2,500 meters above sea level in one of the highest parts of the Entoto mountain chain. It enjoys an excellent climate all year round, with an average temperature of 25°C. You will need to fly in a day prior to the trip departure; Addis Ababa is the third highest capital city in the world and the altitude may fatigue you easily... so take it easy when you arrive. If you have time in Addis Ababa before/after the trip you can undertake a tour of this fascinating city, and visit the National Museum, take in the city’s wide, tree-lined streets or the bustle of the “Mercato” (market). This colourful market has an array of fascinating goods and curios, providing a great place for exploration and people watching. Throughout the city there are shops that sell typical artisan wares, materials and antiques.This morning we depart Addis Ababa at 08:00hrs. Please be ready in the lobby of the hotel specified on your tour voucher at 07:30hrs. There is a long drive to Arba Minch via Hossana (450km). This is the region inhabited by the people of the Guragie, who were once nomads but are now farmers. A long section of the road offers magnificent views of Lake Abaya, surrounded by mountains. The lake has volcanic origins and is almost pink in color. Overnight Paradise Lodge or Swaynes Hotel (or similar).

Boat trip on Lake Chamo, drive to Jinka

This morning we enjoy a boat trip on Lake Chamo - one of the best in Ethiopia. There is a chance to spot many hippos and large concentrations of giant crocodiles. Water birds abound and the scenery is truly unforgettable. The lake is about 32km long and provides a lush wetland habitat for many species of flora and fauna. In the afternoon we drive to Jinka (250km, 5-6 hr drive). Overnight Jinka Resort (or similar)

Mursi village visit, Jinka Museum, drive to Turmi

Today our journey begins with an excursion to a Mursi village (approx 66km from Jinka). The Mursi are one of the original ethnic groups in Ethiopia. They live in very low huts made of straw leaves. The women like to wear terra cotta jewellery on their enormously stretched lower lips and ear lobes. The men are famous for their hairstyle. Then we visit the Jinka Museum, which contains the Southern Omo Research Centre's permanent cultural collection and continuing research of the various ethnic groups and provides an in-depth overview into the people and traditions of the Omo Valley. This afternoon we drive to Turmi (120km), one of the largest towns in the region. Overnight Buska Lodge or Turmi Lodge (or similar)

Karo and Hamer villages

This morning we begin with a memorable excursion to the Karo Tribe (approx 63km drive), who are very famous for their body painting. The Karo people use clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on each other’s faces, chests, arms, and legs. Karo men, as with neighbouring tribes, are also famous for their unique hairstyle. In the afternoon we visit a Hamer village. The Hamer tribe (also called Hammer or Hamar) is one of the largest groups in the Valley. The Hamer cultivate millet, vegetables, tobacco and cotton as well as raising cattle and goats. They are known for the fine pottery they produce as well as their remarkable hairstyling. Most dramatic of all are the clay hair buns with ostrich feathers that the men don when they have killed a fierce animal. These hair buns stay on for 3-6 months at a time. The women wear beaded necklaces and iron coils around their arms and decorate their skin with cowry shells. These decorations indicate the wealth and prestige of a woman’s husband. We return to Turmi in the evening. Overnight Buska Lodge or Turmi Lodge (or similar)

Return to Arba Minch, via Konso tribal village

As we have seen already, Ethiopia has a huge diversity of ethnic groups and today we will witness the distinguishing behaviour of another of these. We travel north to Arba Minch (approx 270km), en-route visiting a Konso tribal village - a World Heritage listed site of cultural significance. Invariably built on hilltops as protection from the lowland tribes, traditional Konso villages are surrounded by high stonewalls and encompass separate compounds, with outlying terraced agricultural fields. You will be fascinated by the unique architectural aspects, largely unchanged cultural heritage and social cohesion of the village, and how it has adapted to its harsh environment. Another highlight is the famous 'wagas' - a funerary tradition where magnificent carved wooden sculptures were created in honour of Konso warrior heroes who have killed an enemy or animal, and often grouped to represent the man, his wives and his adversaries. Overnight Paradise Lodge or Swaynes Hotel (or similar)

Dorze village, to Lake Langano

We visit a Dorze village this morning (approx 30km drive). One of the smaller ethnic groups, the Dorze are known for their textile weaving and bee hive shaped huts. In the afternoon we drive to the shores of Lake Langano, a freshwater lake popular with locals and tourists alike for its wildlife and water sports. Overnight Sabanna Resort (or similar)

Return to Addis Ababa, trip concludes on arrival

This morning there is time to relax by the lake. After lunch we drive back to Addis Ababa (approx 210km), passing more Rift Valley Lakes on the way. Upon arrival in Addis Ababa this evening (at approx 18:30hrs) trip arrangements conclude. We will be dropped off at central hotels or at the airport (one group drop-off only). Transfers to the airport at any other time can be arranged for additional cost. Accommodation in Addis can also be arranged for additional cost. Please ask your consultant for details.

Additional Information

For thousands of years the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia was a crossroads for droves of people migrating to new lands. Today, it is undoubtedly one of the most unique places on earth because of the sheer diversity of tribal groups that live in this remote area of the Great Rift Valley. This is an extraordinary opportunity to immerse in the fabric of some of these societies, including the Mursi, Hamer and Karo tribes, each with their distinct culture. Expect a real adventure with conditions basic; the Omo Valley being an incredible reminder of an Africa that has not yet seen modernisation. From Addis Ababa we drive to the Omo Valley region and enjoy a boat trip on Lake Chamo to spot hippos and an array of water birds. For the next few days we move from village to village, witnessing traditional lifestyles. The Mursi traditions, whose women insert large clay plates in their lower lips, and the Hamer, who scar and paint their bodies in a mark of their culture, are incredibly fascinating. Returning to Addis Ababa at the conclusion of our trip we reflect on this memorable experience of untouched cultures, ceremonies and astounding natural environments.

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