People are an intrinsic part of travel, and our post-conference tour of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley is a celebration of the country’s cultural melting pot. On this immersive cultural journey you will experience Africa at its rawest, meeting the ethnic tribes who lead a simple existence on the land, much as they have done for centuries. See the beehive-shaped homes of the Chencha people, explore an ancient Konso settlement, meet tribespeople adorned with beads, body paint and lip plates, and with luck, witness a bull-jumping initiation ceremony.
Addis Ababa - Arba Minch
Fly from Addis Ababa to Arba Minch in south-western Ethiopia. Check in to Haile Resort, owned by two-time Olympic gold medal-winning runner Haile Gebre Selassie.
After lunch, explore the traditional Dorze village of Chencha, just north of the city. Meet the villagers and admire the ingenuity of their beehive-shaped homes, fashioned out of bamboo.
The region is renowned for its beautiful shamma woven cloth, which can be seen at roadside stalls selling gabi robes and colourful scarf-like netelas.
Arba Minch - Turmi
Leaving Arba Minch, we travel south to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Konso. Learn how 21 generations of Konso people have reshaped the arid environment to survive, building fortified settlements and dry-stone terraces that retain soil and water.
See the generation-marking daga-hela stones and the carved wooden effigies used instead of tombstones to mark graves.
Arrive in the small town of Turmi in the afternoon and check in to your lodge overlooking the Buska Mountain plains in the heart of the Omo Valley.
After breakfast, travel by jeep to Omorate on the Omo River, where we board a boat to visit remote riverside villages. Meet the nomadic Daasanach people, distinguished by their beautiful beaded jewellery and headwear made from bottle tops. See their huts, built with branches and cow hides, and learn how they exist – herding goats and cattle and growing produce, including sorghum and maize, when the river is in flood.
In the afternoon, visit the Hamer villages around Turmi. Don’t be embarrassed if the Hamer people are more presentable than you – hair coloured, bodies oiled, limbs adorned in beads – the men and women take great pride in their appearance. Peruse the Dimeka market, laden with jewellery, woodcarvings, masks and pottery, and pick up a souvenir for home.
You’ve met the Hamer and the Daasanach people, today it’s time to meet one of Ethiopia’s smallest tribes – the Karo. Travel to the clifftop village of Kolcho, with its stunning views over a U-bend in the Omo River, and meet the Karo, famous for their elaborate body painting. See villagers painted in everything from dots, whirls and stripes to elaborate animal motifs.
After lunch, we return to Turmi to visit another Hamer village. If you’re lucky, we just might witness a bull-jumping male initiation ceremony.
Turmi - Jinka
Drive to Jinka, keeping eyes peeled for pelicans and other aquatic birds as we pass the Weyto River. Arrive in time for the weekly Key Afer Market, frequented by the Bena and Ari tribes, and see a colourful throng of people engaged in grassroots commerce – Ethiopian style.
After lunch, learn about the ethnographical make-up of local tribes at the South-Omo Museum & Research Centre.
Jinka - Addis Ababa
Today you will meet perhaps the most intriguing of all the Ethiopian tribes – the Mursi, known for their body scarification. Drive through Mago National Park en route to the Mursi villages, keeping a lookout for elephant, buffalo, zebra and other wildlife. Don’t be shocked when you first meet the Mursi – the women wear clay plates in their bottom lip as a symbol of fertility and men and women practice scarification – cutting themselves to create decorative scars.
Fly from Jinka to Addis Ababa and stay at a hotel near the airport.
Addis Ababa - Australia
Transfer to the airport for your homeward journey to Australia.