Rondreis Omo Valley - Individual Tour South Ethiopia With Surma

Highlights Ethiopia South

During this individual tour you will explore the historical South.

Day 1 – Arrival in Addis Ababa - Capital of Ethiopia

Welcome to Ethiopia! You’ll be stepping off the plane into Africa’s fourth largest city and diplomatic capital, Addis Ababa. Your Yared Tour & Travel guide will be there to meet you at Bole International Airport and drive you to your hotel.
The direct translation of Addis Ababa is ‘new’ ‘flower’ and you are likely to find this rapidly growing city a fascinating place full of contrasts between traditional and modern Ethiopia, making it a great starting point for your tour.

Day 2 - City tour Addis Abeba

Today begins with a drive to Entoto Mountain where we visit the historical site of Emperor Menelik’s Palace and Maryam church, the oldest in Addis Ababa. From here we drive through Shiro Meda which hosts the city’s largest market for traditional clothing, continuing to the campus of Addis Ababa University, home to one of Africa’s best Ethnological museums and the former palace of Emperor Haile Selassie. You visit the Ethnological or Ethiopia's National Museum with ‘Lucy’, the world-famous fossilized hominid. The museum also showcases ancient artefacts from Axum and Gondar, and an exhibition of Ethiopian art. Then visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral (built in 1933), the largest Orthodox church in Ethiopia and the final resting place of Haile Selassie. To conclude, you will visit the busy life of traders in Mercato - Africa’s biggest outdoor market.

Day 3 – Via Tiya & the Rift Valley to Arba Minch

Today you’re heading to the south! It’s a 6-7 hour drive to Arba Minch and we’ll be stopping off along the way to visit Tiya – one of Ethiopia’s most important, and least understood World Heritage stelae fields containing 41 obelisks engraved with interesting symbols thought to be around 600 years old. We arrive in Arba Minch region, meaning ‘forty’ ‘springs’, in the afternoon. The southern city, situated in the Gamo Gofa region is rich in natural resources including two Rift Valley lakes – Chamo and Abaya – home to large populations of hippos and crocodiles, innumerable little springs, Nech Sar (‘white’ ‘grass’) National Park and huge irrigated fruit farms which provide an important source of fruit farms.

Day 4 – Nech Sar & Dorze tribe

During today’s action-packed excursion, we visit the nearby scenic Nech Sar National Park. From the park’s edge, we take a motorboat on the lake to see hundreds of huge Nile crocodiles bathing in the sun and hippos bobbing in and out of the water. There are also many pelicans and other birds around the lake.
In the afternoon, we drive into the Gamo highlands outside of Arba Minch, to visit an extraordinary mountain community called Dorze. The traditional way of life of the Dorze people is fascinating. The friendly local community invite you into their beautiful villages to view their huts artfully woven from bamboo and thatched with leaves, which look like huge beehives or upturned baskets, followed by visits to the weaving, pottery and tanning cooperatives. You will also enjoy the breath-taking views of the lakes in the valley.

Day 5 - To Turmi via Key Afar Market

Today you will travel from Jinka to Turmi. You’ll witness the landscape dramatically change to wild, dry, acacia tree savannah and feel the warmth and humidity rise. You’ll also notice colourful wraps change to animal skins, shoes to rubber sandals, and the diverse fashions of passers-by wearing brightly coloured adornments and fantastic hairstyles. Turmi village lies in the heart of the Hamar tribe region. From here you will explore different tribes in the Lower Omo Valley. You can best visit the Hamar tribe in the evening, after the work has been done. Therefore, we will take you here just before sunset. You will spend time in the Hamar community with a trained guide and a local family, enjoying the traditional food, drink, delving deeper into rural tribal culture. We pass through Key Afar, the main town of the Banna tribe. We’ll catch one of the biggest traditional tribal markets which takes place on Thursdays. Groups of Ari, Benna, Tsemay and Hamar people are the main attendees, walking long distances to buy and sell local commodities at the Key Afar market, like tabacco (‘tampo’), coffee husks (‘bunno’) and sorghum (‘asine’).

Day 6 - Hamar Tribe Experience

Ancient traditions still form the backbone of daily life in Hamar. Most live in rural settlements and practise traditional livelihoods through subsistence agro-pastoralism. Daily life revolves around taking care of livestock, domestic duties and farming of maize and sorghum. Hamar men are semi-nomadic and travel with large herds of goats and cattle between grazing areas, whereas Hamar women take care of the children, cooking, water and firewood collection. Ceremonies and rituals are an integral part of traditional Hamar life. The most well-known is a rite of passage for men into adulthood and marriage called ‘ukili bula’ or bull-jump. During the ceremony, a young Hamar man leaps naked over several of his family’s bulls. It’s a highlight to witness if there’s one taking place whilst you’re here.

Day 7 - Jinka, Benna Tribe & Market

Our next stop is Jinka, a fast-developing market town set in a cradle of green hills above Mago National Park which gives the area a cooler climate compared to the rest of the Lower Omo Valley. On your way to Jinka you will meet the Banna tribe and you will discover the local market.

Day 8 - Drive to Omo National Park

After lunch in Turmi, the small market town of the Hamar community, we continue our drive to Omo National Park via Nyangatom, a group of around 25,000 agropastoralists inhabiting the land west of the Omo river. We camp overnight in a traditional Nyangatom village. The next morning, after breakfast we drive through Omo National Park – a vast expanse of true wilderness and one of the richest and least-visited wildlife sanctuaries in East Africa.

In Omo National Park you will have a chance to see elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and elan, as well as Lelwel's hartebeest, waterbuck, kudu and gerenuk. The best time to make a game drive is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. We also visit villages of the Surmi people (otherwise Suri) - a fascinating pastoralist community with strong cultural heritage who also inhabit the park. A spend a night camping under the stars in Omo.

Day 9 - Visit the Surma in Omo NP

The Surma are a community of around 45,000 people living in the western parts of Omo National Park deep in southwestern Ethiopia. Cattle are enormously important to the Surma and are traded or used as a source of milk and blood. The Surma are most well-known by outsiders for their spectacular form of traditional stick-fighting and other painful rituals such as lip plates and scarification. Surma is a collective word for three sub-ethnic groups; Chai, Timaga and Suri Baale. Therefore, the Surma are also known as Suri. Travelling to visit Surma can be incredibly tough and there is virtually no infrastructure so we will camp and bring along a local cook to prepare meals.

Dag 10 - Visit Mursi tribe

From Jinka, we will visit the Mursi tribe, an ethnic group living around west of Jinka. The Mursi have a rich cultural heritage and they are most well-known by the outside world for their practice of ceremonial stick fighting and the large pottery discs (‘debhinya’) which are worn by Mursi women in their lower lips. It is not always advisable to visit the Mursi, because it is difficult to really get in touch with the people. We will help you planning which tribes to visit.

Day 11 & 12 - Drive to Unesco Konso

Visiting the Omo Valley, you always pass Konso twice. This is the first place in Ethiopia recognised as a ‘cultural landscape’ by UNESCO. The Konso are a resourceful, efficient, charming, careful, and hard-working people. They have always fiercely defended their territory. This is evident in the fact that each village is walled. They are famous for their wooden anthropomorph statuettes, erected in honor of important - deceased - people. In the Konso language these statuettes are called Waga. You’ll have a chance to walk around the fortress like villages (‘kantas’) with their uniquely designed stone-walled walkways, thatched huts and terraced farms. Konso is also known for its natural phenomenon "New York" - interesting pinnacles of red earth, reminiscent of city skyscrapers with a legendary tale.

Day 13 - Drive to Yabelo

You leave the Omo Valley via Konso and Yabelo. It is a beautiful drive to Yabelo. Here live a number of tribes that differ from the others, such as the Aribore tribe. You will also become acquainted with the Borana tribe who travel with their cattle in search of water and green pastures. The members of this tribe sing in the wells when they fetch water for their livestock. You will visit the “singing well” here and see their way of salt extraction. Overnight in Konso and Yabelo.

Day 14 - Rift Valley & Yirgalem Coffee

Through the Rift Valley you drive to Hawassa via Yirgalem in the Sidama region, one of the important coffee regions in Ethiopia. During your drive up to Yirgalem you will notice the first few coffee plantations. When you arrive in Yirgalem you will visit one of those fairtrade coffee plantations, so that you can experience first-hand how the Yirgechefe and the Sidama coffee is being made. Furthermore, Ethiopia is well-known about its high quality arabica coffee beans. Here you can see how coffee is being made in a fair way.

Day 15 - Relax in Addis Abeba & back home

Today we head back to Addis Ababa by plane. You could shop or make a single final visit in the capital in the afternoon. Or you take a rest in your dayroom in Addis Ababa. On the final day you will enjoy a farewell meal and celebration in one of the city’s cultural restaurants. Enjoy the authentic Ethiopian cuisine for the last time, whilst enjoying traditional dance and music.