Tour – 2: Tour to Ethiopian Land of Endemism & Wilderness of South( 14 days )
Day 1, Thursday: Addis – Awassa (270 road). After early breakfast head to South direction of Addis Ababa. After 48 km you are in the Great Rift Valley. Stop at Dabre Zait to see some of the crater lakes. Passed Mojo town is the Lakes region of the Rift lake Koka, Ziway, Abijata and Shalla. Both these lakes are good bird watching sites. Lunch stop in Ziway and continue to Awassa via Shashemene for overnight stay.
Day 2, Friday: Awassa – Bale Mouintains Park – Robe (150 km gravel). This day’s drive is a shift from the Great Rift Valley to the Eastern Mountains. After 70 km the landscape is changing to flat barley fields and you see rolling mountains at distance. This is the area occupied by the Oromo farmers. Rising above the cultivated lands of the Oromo at an altitude of around 3000 meters, the bale massive is covered with magnificent forests. From the tree line up to about 3800 meters the undulating moorlands are covered with heather. Above this is the Afro-alpine plateau. You will have many stops for the view.
At Dinsho, the Head quarter of the Bale Mountain Park, about 1 hour walk shows you most of the animals of the area. Bale is known as a place of endemic animals and birds of Ethiopia. Two species of mammals, the Ethiopian Wolf and mountain Nyala(large graceful antelope) have brought a great deal of attention to the Bale Mountains. The third endemic in mammal, menilik’s bushbuck is the smallest member of the tragelaph group and a highland sub species of the common bushbuck is in good number around Bale. After the visit continue to robe for over night stay.
Day 3: Saturday: Robe – Senete Plateau – Robe (130 km gravel). After early breakfast we head to Senete Plateau passing through the town of Goba, the old capital of Bale province. Passed Goba you take the spectacular road to Dolo Mana that crosses the Senete Plateau. This is the highest road on the continent of Africa which reaches to the altitude of 4000 meters. After Goba the climb is through the juniper, cedar, and cypress forest before attaining truly alpine altitude.
After 3800 meters the Giant Lobelia, endemic tree appear. On this top you can view several small lakes and mountains. Around the area called Kontich (the satellite station area) is the best place to see the Ethiopian Wolf. In order to enjoy an unforgettable view over the plateau and its surroundings, climb to the dome of Tulu Dimtu, “the red mountain” in Oromo language. After Tulu Dimtu the road continue and meet the escarpment of Harena, which opens up a splendid view over the low country to the south and if you further drive you reach the forest of hygenia. Back to Robe for overnight.
Day 4, Sunday: Robe – Sof Omar Cave – Robe (240 km gravel). From Robe the road crisscrosses the fertile land of the high plains before descending to the lowlands. The sparse acacias provide shade for goats and sheep of the pastoral Oromo. Termite hills are towering here and there. After 100 km, you reach the little village of Sof Omar which overlooks the cliff which plunge down to the bed of river Web. The river flows right through the majestic caves carved out of the calcium over the course of centuries. The caves are named after the famous Muslim shake Omar. After visiting the cave back to Robe for overnight.
Day 5, Monday: Robe – Shashemene – Sodo (270 km). We drive south back to the Rift valleyand stop for lunch at Shashemene for lunch. After lunch we cross the rolling hills of Wolayta. En route you visit the different house styles of the Alaba Oromos, the Wolaita’s, and Hadiya. Short stop to visit the potter’s village. Arrival at Sodo and night stay in Bekele Mola Hotel.
Day 6, Tuesday: Sodo – Dorze – Arba Minch (120 km). After early breakfast we head to Arba Minch (forty springs). Before getting Arba Minch, we visit the Dorze people culture of weaving and their beehive style house made from bamboo on the top of Mt. Goge, Reach Arba Minch town located between two lakes, Abaya and Chamo. In the afternoon, boat excursion on lake Chamo to see crocodiles and hippos and many birds. Overnight stay in Bekele Mola hotel, a hotel located on one of the best views in Africa.
Day 7, Wednesday: Arba Minch (Nech Sar Park). Morning visit to Nech Sar National Park to see zebras, gazelles, heart beasts, and variety of birds. In addition to the wild life, the surrounding scenery is wonderful. back to hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, we start our drive in the remote south Ethiopia and of the different peoples culture in wilderness. Around Konso you see the people of Derashi, Gidole and Gewada mostly with traditional short skirt. Afternoon visit to the Konso people village to admire their house style and village complex, their farming style. Konso is a site recorded by UNESCO as World Heritage. Overnight stay in Idget Hotel.
Day 8, Thursday: Konso – Key Afer – Jinka (160 km). After early start direct to the western direction of Konso. Cross the territory of Gewada people who have the same culture with Konso. Around Woyto river the people of Tsemay and Benna with their animal skin made clothes and their body is decorated with shells, bids, quarry shells and metals and unique hear styles. After refreshment stop at Woyto continue to Key Afer. Thursday is market day in Key Afer town. This weekly colourful market is one of the vibrant markets in the area. Many of the surrounding tribes are coming to this market. This helps to understand their life, to see the materials they use in their daily life, their products and more than this it is easy to compare and contrast the different tribes culture. After the visit continue to Jinka for overnight stay in Goh hotel.
Day 9, Friday: Jinka – Mursi – Jinka (140 km). We live Jinka after breakfast and to the western direction of Mago park to see the Mursi people. They mostly live in separate villages of small groups. The famous Mursi women sport remarkable lip decorations, flat slabs of dried clay which can be the size of a small plate, inserted into the lower lip. The men are renowned warriors; very slender, they rarely cover up their body which proudly bears the scars of their combats. Drive back and continue to Jinka for over night in Goh hotel.
Day 10, Saturday: Jinka – Key Afer – Dimeka – Turmi (120 km). This is a day we drive to the country of Benna and Hamar via Key Afer town. Our first stop is at the town called Dimeka to see the weekly Saturday colorful market. This is another of the vibrant markets in the area. After the visit of the market we head to Turmi, the center of Hammar people. The Hamer are a fine looking people, both men and women take great pride in their appearance, shaving and coloring their hair, oiling their bodies and decorating themselves with beads and bracelets worn around arms and legs.
They are also famous for their annual celebration of initiation of boys to transform to adult hood, a ceremony called Bull-Jumping. Bull-jumping is a precondition of marriage for men of Hamar people. June up to September, which is after harvest time in the area, is a time for bull-jumping. They rarely do the jumping in other months. Overnight stay in Kaske Evangadi camp site.
Day 11, Sunday: Turmi – Karo – Turmi (118 km). After breakfast we drive to karo country. The drive gives you a chance to pass through some of the villages of remote Hammar. At a village called Kisso, the villagers show their traditional danss on the road side. After kisso you pass through well forested part of Omo valley which has a lot of termite hills. Some of the termite hills are above 5 meters tall. You arive at the village of the Karo Pople called, Qorcho. At Qorcho the scenery of the surrounding with river Omo crossing the desert is wonderful. Among the people living along the Omo River, the Karo excel in face and body painting as well as body scarification. After the visit drive back to Turmi for over night camping.
Day 12, Monday: Turmi – Arba Minch (290 km). This is like a drive back on the same road to Arba. The new part is the first 120 km, where you see the unique people called Erbore. Stop at Woyto for lunch and continue to Arba for over night stay in Bekele Mola Hotel.
Day 13, Tuesday: Arba Minch – Sodo – Hossaina (320 km asphalt). After Sodo we take the left turn to Gurage people land. Most of the farm is dominated by Ensat plant. You cross rolling green mountains. After passing this attractive landscape you arrive Hossaina for over night in Heimi Hotel.
Day 14, Wednesday: Hossaina – Addis Ababa (280 km). This day’s activity includes both landscape, archeology and history. After early start you drive east of the main road first in the land of the Oromo then in Gurage tribe. The drive is through green rolling mountains and table lands looking the age of the Great Rift Valley on the left side. The stops are in Tiya stele Park, Adadi Maryam Rock-hewn church and Melka Kunture Stone age archaeological site. Tiya, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site marks the northern limit of a belt of mysterious engraved Stella that stretches across southern Ethiopia through Dilla to Negele Borena. Remarkably known about the origin of these stelae, or of the meaning of the symbols that are carved upon them.
Continue to the church of Adadi Mariam, the southern-most rock hewn church in Ethiopia. Contemporaneous with those of Lalibela (in fact local tradition says that it was built by King Lalibela in 1106), the church was carved below ground level and contains 24 windows surrounded by a wide, high tunnel. It is still being used today. Your final stop is at Melka Kunture, one of the most important Paleolithic sites in Ethiopia. Along the Awash River where Melka Kunture is located, have been found the fossils of hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and elephants. It is believed that, this butchery site was the oldest stone age site in the world and it is the only stone age site in the world which has both ages of the stone age(early, middle and old). Arrive Addis late afternoon, check in to Holiday Hotel. End of the tour