TOP TOUR: TRIBES AND LAKES

This journey brings you to the Omo Valley in South Ethiopia where more than 10 tribes and ethnic groups share a relatively small area. Learn to know the friendly and colorful people of Konso, Hamer, Mursi, Benna, Ari, Karo and Dassanech tribes!

TOURCODE: YT01

ATTRACTIONS: TRIBES AND THEIR CULTURE, NATURE, WILDLIFE AND BIRDS

DURATION: 13 - 15 DAYS

TRAVEL DAY: Flight to Ethiopia and arrival at Bole Airport (Addis Abeba) in the evening or in the night.

The agent of Yared Tour&Travel agency welcomes you at the airport. Transfer to your hotel is arranged.

Day 1: Addis Abeba is the third highest capital of the world on an altitude of 2300-2500 m. with on its background the green with eucalyptus trees covered mountains and a pleasant climate. The city is founded in 1886 by king Menelik and Queen Taitu.

Today we make a tour through the most interesting parts of the city and you we visit to the National Museum (with the famous skeleton of one of our oldest ancestors Lucy) or the beautiful ethnological museum. To see one of the with colourful wall paintings covered cathedrals is a must. Our diner is accompanied by the surprising dynamic traditional Ethiopian dances and music.

O/n in hotel in Addis Abeba.

Day 2: We start our trip to the south and drive through the Rift Valley, a giant crack in earth’ surface from Middle-East to Mozambique. En route we pass four of the seven beautiful Rift Valley lakes. Lake Ziway has a nice place for bird watching.

In Awassa you can eat lunch at the shores of the lake in the new Lewi Resort&Spa or in Haile Resort (which is rather expensive) and take a look in the city. Hereafter we drive to the beautiful Aregash lodge. It is good to arrive in time (15.00 h.) to enjoy the beautiful lodge and surrounding. After incheck you can make a walk to a nearby Sidama settlement with a locale guide. You visit one of the huts and the housewife shows you how flour is prepared from the stem of the Enset (false banana) tree. O/n in Aregash lodge.

Day 3: We drive further southward on the asphaltroad to the Kenyan border passing the area of the Sidama en Gedeo people. The hills and mountains are intensively cultivated in this densely populated area. Everywhere you see the beautiful round huts, surrounded by coffee shrubs, sugar cane and enset (false banana) trees. After having passed Agere Maryam, the landscape changes into the barren acacia shrub of the Southern Rift Valley. Also the people are different: we enter the area of the semi-nomadic Borena tribe and we see already small flocks of camels with their Borena owners here and there. In afternoon we visit the “singing wells” of the Borena’s and the Chew Bet crater lake were salt is extracted from the black mud.O/n in Yabelo hotel. “singing wells” of the Borena’s and a crater lake were salt is extracted from the black mud. O/n in motel in Yabelo.

Day 4: Now we leave the asphalt road and continue driving on rough roads. We are entering the “wilderness” with only a few lorries or landcruisers passing and around us the silence and sounds of pastoral life. The mountains and hills are only covered with bushes and some scattered trees with varied views and panorama’s. En route we visit a Borena village. Approaching Konso we see the ingenious way of terracing the steep slopes for the cultivation of sorghum and other grains. Thus the Konso have survived in a rather dry and infertile environment, using to the utmost what they have. In afternoon we visit Dekatu, one of the beautiful, with stone wall surrounded villages of the Konso. We also see the natural wonder“New York”: huge sandpillars formed through ages by rain and erosion. If the guests like, they can also visit the Konso Chief (Optional) O/n in Kanta lodge

Day 5: A mountainous route with magnificent views into the Weyto Valley leads to Jinka. We pass the territories of the Tsemai and Banna tribes and visit their villages. And make a coffeestop in Weyto to meet the Tsemai people. The Tsemai resemble the Ari but they speak a language which is similar to Arebore with whom they also have social connections. They intermarry frequently with the Hamer. The Banna are agriculturalists and practice flood-cultivation but they also like hunting. When a man has killed a wild animal they make a big feast and the hero is decorated with clay-paintings. In the little town of Key-Afer we visit the very colourful regional market were Ari, Tsemai and Banna people sell their agricultural and handmade products. The Ari are living in and around Jinka and grow sorghum, maize and enset in the fertile highlands of Jinka area. O/n in Jinka Resort hotel or Goh hotel

Day 6: Visit Mursi area

Via a track through the wilderness we drive into the Mago National Park. This scenic beautiful park had once a wealth of wildlife but due to the still existing hunting practices of the different tribes nowadays you very seldom see an elephant, buffalo or lion. Most tourists only cross the park for a visit to the famous Mursi tribe and so we do. On our way we can observe lewlew’s hartebeests, gerenuk, dikdik (small antelope) or kudu. After having crossed a savannah plain you reach the Mursi area.

The Mursi are well known for the big clay plates the women bear in their lower lip and ear. Although the origin of this custom is unknown it is considered as a sign of beauty and wealth: the greater the lip plate the wealthier the woman so the more attractive for marriage. Once a year it is time for furious stick fighting among the men where they can prove their strength and masculinity.

Try to visit a more remote village and to stay until late afternoon instead of spending only a short moment (click, click, only for photo’s) in the tourist spoiled villages such as Bella where the people are rather aggressive and money minded.

O/n on Mago NP campsite

Day 7: From the Mago NP we drive on a track through a wilderness of dense bush, savanne and grass land to Murille. Here you really get the “far away from civilized world” feeling, being alone with nature and Karo or Hamer men wandering about with their cattle or enthusiastically greeted by the girls, clothed in their ornamented goat skin skirts with iron bracelets around their arms and necks. The small Dikdiks are jumping away in front of the car and in the distance you see herds of gazelles or oryx.

We visit Karo village Kolcho on a hilltop near the Omo river. The Karo are related to the Hamer and masters in bodypainting with white chalk for dance, feast or celebration. O/n at Kolcho campsite.

NB: If the track through Mago NP is impassible, we drive via Jinka and Dimeka to Kolcho.

Day 8: A raft brings us to the other side of the Omo river for a visit to the Nyangatom tribe. They are great warmongers and at war with almost everyone.

Men as well as women use body scarifications for cosmetic purposes, tribal identification and indications of prowess in battle.

O/n again at Kolcho campsite

Day 9: We continue on the track through the wilderness of the Omo valley to the Dassanech (or Galeb) who are living on the other side of the Omo river. To reach their village we have to cross the river in a canoe which is made of a hollow tree. Also these people are semi-nomads and their housing is very simple. The women insert their lower lip with at the end a little iron plate. The little girls try to imitate this with a small leaf of a tree and want you to make a photo of them.

Our next goal is Turmi, in the heart of the Hamer territory. The friendly Hamer people are well known for the remarkable body decoration and special hair style of the women. After having killed an enemy or wild animal the men are decorated with a clay-cap, painted in different colours and the feather of an ostrich.Late afternoon visit a Hamer village and if the guests want, see the evangadi (Hamer dance) which is OptionalO/n on Turmi Kaske campsite

Day 10: Today early morning, if the guests like, they can make a walking trip with a local guide to more remote villages which are difficult to reach by car. Or visit a village by car. Hereafter visit the regional market in Dimeka where Hamer, Arebore and Karo sell their products. These markets are one of the best places to make pictures/

O/n again on Kaske campsite

Day 11: Via an Arebore village and Konso we leave the Omo valley and proceed in northern direction to Arba Minch. En route visit the Arebore village.

This town is beautiful situated near two of the most scenic Rift Valley lakes: Chamo and Abya. In the dense forest near our hotel are fourty springs after which Arba Minch is named. From your bungalow at Paradise lodge you can enjoy a splendid view on both lakes. O/n in Paradise lodge

Day 12: In the morning make a boat trip on lake Chamo where the longest and fattest crocodiles of Africa take a sunbath on the shores. Hippo’s hide themselves under the water and we see also colonies of pelicans. O/n again in Arba Minch.

Hereafter the boat brings us to one of the most scenic National Parks of East-Africa: Nech Sar National Park. Here we can see the Burchell's zebra's, antelopes, Grant's gazelles, colobus monkeys and different bird species while making a walking trip of appr. 3 h. on the savannah plain. O/n in Paradise lodge.

Day 13: Early in the morning we ascend several hundreds of metres into the mountains to visit a compound of the Dorze people. They are famous for constructing distinguished beeheeve shaped huts, terrace cultivation and the best weaving work of Ethiopia. On our route to Lake Langano we enjoy the green, mountainous landscape of the Wolayta people who are farmers. They even cultivate the sometimes steep slopes which unfortunately causes erosion. On our right hand we have beautiful vista’s to lake Abya which is the biggest lake of the Rift Valley with a length of 90 km. We also pass Shashemene where we can visit the community of the Rastafari’s. Emperor Haile Selassie –who is considered by the Rasta’s as a kind of messiah- provided them a piece of land here to give opportunity to the descendants of Africans who were once sold as slaves to return to their African home and start a new life. At the shores of lake Langano we can relax on the beach, swim, climb the rocks and/or make a waterbike, motorboat or horse trip. O/n in hotel on the shores of lake Langano.

Day 14: We return back to Addis Abeba Ziway, Modjo and Debre Zeit OR take the alternative quiet asphaltroad via Butajira to visit the Tiya stellae field with its 600 years old stellae (a Unesco world heritage site) and Adadi Maryam Church which is the only rock hewn church south of Addis Abeba. (Optional excursions)

In Addis Abeba you can do your last shopping in Merkato, the biggest open air market of Africa or you can rest in a dayroom of the hotel for the night-flight back home. In evening check-in at Bole Airport and return home.

REMARK:

You can make this trip 1 or 2 days shorter by driving on day 3 directly to Konso and/or cancelling day 8

EXTENSION OF THE TOUR

EXTENSION WITH TREKKING IN BALE MOUNTAINS. (YT01A)

Day 1 – 12: program YT01

DAY 13: Drive to Wondo Genet, the beautiful, green mountain area with many hot springs. You can swim in a pool filled with warm spring water. O/n in Wondo Genet Wabe Shebelle hotel

DAY 14: Drive to Dinsho Headquarter and prepare trekking in the afternoon. O/n in the guesthouse

DAY 15, 16, 17: Trekking program in the wonderful Bale mountains.

Day 15: from Dinsho headquarter to Mararo Campsite (4 hours)

Day 16: from Mararo to Worgona campsite (4 hours).

Day 17: from Worgona to Sanetti road (6 hours)

The car picks you up at Sanetti to drive to Goba for O/n in Wabe Shebelle hotel

Bale mountains national park is 2,400 km2 in area, covering a wide range of habitats and ranging in altitude from 1500 to 4377 metres (Tulu Demtu) the highest point in southern Ethiopia.

Temperatures on the plateau range from -70c to 260c depending on the season. The dry season is cold at night and hot during the day while the wet season has more moderate temperatures. The rainfall is high, averaging 1.500 mm, and usually falls between March and October, as well as other months.

The Bale mountains are an area of high altitude plateau that is broken by numerous spectacular volcanic plugs and peaks beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams that descend in to deep rocky gorges on their way to the lowlands below. As you ascend in to the mountains you will experience changes in the vegetation with altitude, from juniper forests to heather moor lands and alpine meadows, which at various times of year exhibit an abundance of colourful wild flowers.

The Bale Mountains harbour unique and diverse fauna and flora. The area contains species that are Ethiopian endemics, but there are also species that are found only within the Bale Mountains themselves.

Bale mountains National park the largest area of afro-alpine habitat in the whole of the continent. It gives the visitor opportunities for unsurpassed mountain walking, horse trekking, scenic driving and the chances to view many of Ethiopia’s endemic mammals; in particular the mountain Nyala and Semien Fox; and birds such as the thick-billed Raven, spotted Bale plover, Blue Winged Goose, Rouget’s Rail etc.

DAY 18: Drive via Bale/Arsi highlands and Shashemene to Lake Langano for O/n in Sabana Beach resort

DAY 19 Drive back to Addis and in evening flight back home.

EXTENSION TO HARAR (YT01B)

Day 1 – 13: Program YT01

DAY 14: Drive to Awash NP.

Make excursion to the gorge of Awash river, gamedrive (if possible visit the hot springs) and finally drive to the new lodge near the waterfall of Awash river for overnight

DAY 15: Drive to Harar.(appr. 7 hours)

The walled city of Harar covers an area of a little over 1sq km.There are over 87 mosques in the old town alone, and these are said to form the largest concentration of mosques in any city in the world. Harar is known as the 4th Moslem sacred city of the world next to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The town is also regarded as the walled city because of the wall that was built in 15th c by Harari (Adare people) to protect themselves from the repeated invasion of surrounding tribes.

Up to 1887 Harar was an independent city-state and a political, commercial and cultural centre of the region between the Ethiopian highlands and the Red Sea.. After emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia conquered the city and surrounding area, it became part of Ethiopia. The city has always been a melting pot of many different peoples and tribes such as Somali, Oromo, Arabs and Turks. Still the city breathes a special atmosphere with its winding alleys with white plastered houses. Recently UNESCO has declared the city “world heritage of humanity”.Late afternoon we arrive in Harar where we visit the Hyena Feeding (7pm -7:30 pm) Harar’s greatest attraction and certainly its most famous one. It is said that his habit dates from ages ago when there was a great famine in Harar. Even the hyena’s where hungry and came from the mountains to the city to eat the children. To avoid this, the inhabitants decided to give the hyena’s porridge

Day 16: Excursions in Harar

In the morning our city-tour starts from the old town through the main gate, which is known as Harar gate. There are seven gates; two were added by the Emperor Menelik in 1889 to the five original ones, which dates from the 16th century. Inside the wall we visit the museum of the Harari National Cultural Centrewhich is designed like a typical Adare houses and contains examples of traditional arts and crafts, typical household objects and ornaments, traditional clothing, writing implements etc. Other interesting places are the 17th century Jami mosque, different tombs and shrines of important Islam leaders, Rimbaud house, birth place of emperor Haile Selassie Ras Tafari house) ,Church of Medhane Alem (1890 and the colourful market.. O/n in Harar Rawda house.

DAY 17: Drive to Sodore recreation park at the shores of Awash river. (appr. 10 h. drive).

Here you can swim in the pool which is filled with warm spring water, take a very hot spring shower in the open air basin, walk along the river and enjoy the presence of many monkeys and late afternoon or early morning observe the warthogs.

DAY 18: Drive back to Addis Abeba (2 hours)

You can do your last shopping at Merkato and after farewell dinner check in for flight back home.

EXTENSION TO BALE MOUNTAINS AND HARAR ( YT01C)

Day 1 – 12: Program YT01

DAY 13: : Drive to Wondo Genet, the beautiful, green mountain area with many hot springs. You can swim in a pool filled with warm spring water. O/n in Wondo Genet Wabe Shebelle hotel

DAY 14 Drive to Dinsho headquarter to prepare your trekking. In afternoon make a walk with the local guide into the forest around the headquarter to observe the mountain Nyala, menelik’s bushbuck and warthogs. O/n in Dinsho Guesthouse

DAY 15, 16, 17 : Trekking in Bale Mountains to Sanetti plateau. On day 18 the landcruiser will wait for you on the plateau to bring you to Goba for o/n in Wabe Shebelle hotel.

Trekking program: Day 15: from Dinsho headquarter to Mararo Campsite (4 hours)

Day 16: from Mararo to Worgona campsite (4 hours).

Day 17: from Worgona to Sanetti road (6 hours).

DAY 18: Drive via Bale/Arsi highlands and Shashemene to Lake Langano for O/n in Sabana Beach resort or in Awassa.

DAY 19 Relax 1 day at lake Langano. O/n in Sabana Beach Resort

DAY 20 Drive to Awash NP. Make excursion to the Gorge, gamedrive (if possible visit the hot springs) and finally drive to the new lodge near the waterfall of Awash river for overnight

DAY 21 Drive to Harar. In afternoon start excursions. O/n in Harar Rawda house.

DAY 22 Excursions in Harar to the different gates, market, Jami mosque (1760), tomb of Emir Nur (16thcentury), Harar museum and cultural centre, Church of Medhane Alem (1890), Rimbaud house (1908) and the house where Ras Mekonnen (emperor Haile Selassie) was born. O/n in Rawda house.

DAY 23: Drive to Sodore recreation park at the shores of Awash river. Here you can swim in the pool which is filled with warm spring water, take a very hot spring shower in the open air basin, walk along the river and enjoy the presence of many monkeys and late afternoon or early morning observe the warthogs.

DAY 24: Drive back to Addis Abeba

’You can do your last shopping at Merkato and after farewell dinner check in for flight back home.