Experience Ethiopia’s bursting religious and cultural attractions on this spectacular tour through the rock hewn churches of Lalibella to the Omo Valley tribes and the fascinating Konso Kingdom. This tour offers unforgettable cultural experience.
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Day 1: Arrival in Addis
Upon arrival at Bole airport in Addis, our guide will be waiting to take us to the hotel for check in and a briefing. We visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral on our city tour and Entoto mountain at an altitude of 3200m which offers a panoramic view of Ethiopia. We also visit the old King’s Palace, before returning to the hotel. In the evening, we attend a traditional welcome dinner with food and dance. Overnight stay will be at the Friendship Hotel.
Day 2: Lalibela
We will have an early breakfast and transfer to the airport for the 9.00 am flight to Lalibela. At an altitude of 2800m, Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Axum and is a center of pilgrimage for most of the country. Unlike Axum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian and is widely believed amongst the clerics to be a replica of Jerusalem. We drive to the Panoramic Hotel for lunch and admire the stunning scenery from the hotel. In the afternoon, we take a guided visit to some of the 11 monolithic rock-hewn churches of the remarkable King Lalibela. Meals and overnight stay will be at the Panoramic Hotel.
Day 3: Asheten Mariam Monastery
After breakfast, we have an opportunity to explore another remarkable rock-hewn church in Lalibela. The Asheten Maryam monastery is located on Mount Abuna Yosef at an altitude of nearly 4,000 metres overlooking Lalibela. We drive to the monastery and cover the remaining short distance by climbing to the church. The monastery is well preserved from the 12th/13th Century with relics such as scriptures and crosses still available for use by the priests. We will hike back to the Hotel for lunch and visit a local village in the afternoon. Meals and overnight stay will be at the Panoramic Hotel.
Day 4: Dorze Village
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our 10.35a.m flight to Abar Minch via Addis. We arrive just in time for a late lunch. In the afternoon, we take a short drive up the mountains to visit the Dorze people. They are always a delighted to have visitors as the children display their unique Dorze dance. Their houses are tall structures, resembling a beehive. Inside the hut, a section is partitioned off for the family’s animals (cows and goats) to sleep in during the cold rainy season. The Dorze people are very skilled weavers, providing a majority of the country’s traditional cotton and other unique Ethiopian clothing.
Day 5: Lake Chamo
Today we visit Lake Chamo National Park and take a boat ride on the lake which is home to the largest Nile Crocodiles and a number of Hippos. There is also rich birdlife with Pelicans, Fish Eagles and Herons just to name a few. The trip takes about 2 hours. We proceed with our safari through the southern Nations to Konso for lunch at the Kanta Lodge. In the afternoon, we visit another UNESCO Heritage site - the Konso Villages. A local guide explains to us the traditional lifestyle of the Cushitic speaking ethnic group who are basically agriculturalists. The area is arid area with stone walled terraces and fortified settlements which constitute a spectacular example of a living cultural tradition stretching back 21 generations. Overnight stay will be at the Kanta Lodge.
Day 6: Konso King
Today we pay a visit to a Konso Chief. The royal compound does not distinguish significantly from other Konso homes let aside its considerable size. No obvious sign of wealth or social status is displayed to the visitor. However, the place offers beautiful traditional sceneries. Konso kingship is a family matter since 22 generations. Kala Gezhgne studied and practices civil engineering in Addis Ababa until the death of his father 12 years ago, which prompted him to take over the Konso royal duties. He is also the chief of one of the nine clans of the tribe. Not to mention his charge of chief priest (poqola). Before an early lunch at Kanta Lodge we visit the well- established Konso Museum. After lunch we drive through the Highlands down to the Omo Valley for dinner and overnight at the Jinka Guesthouse.
Day 7: Mursi Tribe
Today we visit the Mursi, an ethnic group of not more than 4000 members in the Mago National Park. We are accompanied by a local English speaking guide who not only acts as an interpreter between us and the tribe members but also shares his rich knowledge with us. The Mursi are basically herdsmen but farm when it rains along the river banks of the Omo River. The women have an unusual jewellery of clay plates in the split lower lips and spectacular body paintings. After the visit, we drive back to Jinka for lunch and take an afternoon drive to Turmi. Overnight stay will be at the Turmi lodge.
Day 8: Hamer Village
After breakfast, we venture out to visit the Hamer people and Hamer market. A local English-speaking guide takes us on a walk to the villages. The Hamer are famous for their beautiful ornaments and red orchre they use for decorating their hair. If we are lucky we will get to witness the cattle-leaping ceremony that marks the transition from boyhood to adulthood. We will have lunch in a local hotel in town. In the afternoon, we will visit the Karo people on the banks of the Omo River who are known for their scarification and body painting rituals. It is clear that we have to ask for permission and pay for photographs. Our guide will assist us with this. Dinner and overnight stay will once again be at the Turmi Lodge.
Day 9: Drive to Yabello via Borana Village
Today we return towards Konso and branch south East to Yabelo the Center of the Borana Community. The scenery is spectacular. On the way we visit a Borana Village. Here, we get insight into the traditional lifestyle of the Borana people. They are pastoralist and have maintained their cultures over the centuries. About half of the 500 000 people live in northern Kenya. In the late afternoon we arrive at Yabelo and have time for a stroll through the colouful town. Overnight stay will be at the Yabello Hotel.
Day 10: El sod Salt Lake
After breakfast, we drive 80km down south from Yabello to El Sod, a crater lake where salt is mined for sale and use throughout Ethiopia, Northern Kenya and Somalia. The site is spectacular. It looks like a black eye staring out of the parched red landscape. With the binocular you can see the hundreds of people submerged in the black water, mining high quality salt here every day. The salt is transported with donkeys up the steep crater walls. We return to Yabelo for lunch and drive to Yirgi Alem for dinner and overnight at the Aregash Lodge.
Day 11: Shashemene town walk and Drive to Langano
After breakfast we check out and drive to Shashamane, the Rastafarian capital of Ethiopia. In 1948, Emperor Haile Selassie donated 500 acres of his private land to allow members of the Rastafarian movement and other settlers from Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean to go to Africa. Nicknamed ‘Little Jamaica’, many followers of the Rastafarian belief view Shashemene as the Promised Land. We take a stroll through the town and after lunch drive through fertile farmland to Lake Langano. Dinner and overnight stay will be at Sabana Resort at the shores of the scenic Lake.
Day 12: Tranfer to Addis for Departure
Today we drive back to Addis Ababa via Ziway. In Ziway Castle Vinery has established vineyard and a variety of sweet red vine is produced here. At the vineries restaurant we stop for lunch and get a chance to taste the different varieties. Another 160km drive on excellent roads takes us finally back to Addis for our evening departure flight.