Highlights of the trip to Ethiopia
Alternative route visiting places that are rarely or not at all frequented by tourism, such as the territory of the Suri, Dizi and Nyangatom peoples.
Coexistence with some of the most impressive ethnic groups in all of Africa.
All the local team, guide, cook, drivers, etc. They are great connoisseurs of the area and true specialists in this route.
DAY 01 // WEDNESDAY: CITY OF ORIGIN – ADDIS ABABA
DAY 02 // THURSDAY: ADDIS ABABA
DAY 03 // FRIDAY: ADDIS ABABA – JIMMA (FLIGHT) – MIZAN TIFERI
DAY 04 // SATURDAY: MIZAN TIFERI – TULGUIT
DAY 05 // SUNDAY: TULGUIT
DAY 06 // MONDAY: TULGUIT- KIBISH – TULGUIT
DAY 07 // TUESDAY: TULGUIT – KIBISH – TUM
DAY 08 // WEDNESDAY: TUM – NP OF OMO
DAY 09 // THURSDAY: P.N. OF OMO – KANGATE
DAY 10 // FRIDAY: KANGATE – KARO – TURMI
DAY 11 // SATURDAY: TURMI – DIMEKA – TURMI
DAY 12 // SUNDAY: TURMI – KONSO – ARBA MINCH
DAY 13 // MONDAY: ARBAMINCH (FLIGHT – AMH ADD 1530 H.) – ADDIS ABABA – DEPARTURE TO CITY OF ORIGIN
DAY 14 // TUESDAY: ARRIVAL IN THE CITY OF ORIGIN
(B) BREAKFAST (L) LUNCH (D) DINNER
DAY 01 // WEDNESDAY: CITY OF ORIGIN – ADDIS ABABA (-, -, -)
Departure to Addis Ababa, check in and transfer to the hotel. Hotel accommodation
DAY 02 // THURSDAY: ADDIS ABABA (B, -, -)
Breakfast and departure to visit the most important points of the city. Visit the National Museum where the fossil remains of Lucy are exhibited, one of the most important paleontological finds in history, the Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George, built in an octagonal shape, and the famous Merkato, the largest open-air market in the world. “Horn of Africa”. If there is time in the afternoon, we will climb Mount Entoto to see a view of the city from its 3,300 meters high.
DAY 03 // FRIDAY: ADDIS ABABA – JIMMA (FLIGHT) – MIZAN TIFERI (B, L, D)
Breakfast and departure to the airport to take the flight to Jimma, to the south of the country. We will continue the journey in 4×4 to the city of Mizan Teferi. On the way we will admire a large forest with spectacular views of the coffee plantations that exist in this area, since during the day we will cross the Kaffa region, where the denomination of “coffee” came from. We’ll eat on the way. Arrival at Mizan Teferi.
In the district of Mizan Teferi there are 61 villages and the main city has an altitude of 1,300 m. Mizan is located very close to the oldest and largest coffee plantation in Ethiopia, called “Bebeka Coffee Plantation”, which covers a total of 6,537 hectares.
DAY 04 // SATURDAY: MIZAN TIFERI – TULGUIT (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will leave in our 4×4 heading south, crossing mountains with thick vegetation towards Tulguit, passing through beautiful landscapes in the Surmas mountains.
We will make contact with one of the last African tribes and one of the most isolated in the world, the Surmas or Suri, whose customs and way of life have changed little since the Neolithic.
It is a tribe of Nilotic origin, with tall and slender individuals, whose women share the “lip plate” with the Mursi acquaintances, a tradition that seems to have its origin in the time of slavery, since to avoid being kidnapped by the slave-owning Arabs, they deformed their face, and thus not be attractive for sale.
Anchored in a remote location between the Surma Mountains and troubled South Sudan, they are surely the most “primitive” tribe in the area, and some of their villages have had minimal contact with Westerners for years.
Accommodation in camp near Tulguit.
The Surma or Suri: They call themselves Dama or Dhuak and there are about 32,000 individuals (2016).
Neighboring towns: Mursi, Diz, Murle, Didinga. The Suri language is very similar with the Mursi.
Economy: His herds of cows are his main wealth. Second is agriculture. The problems that the civil war in South Sudan has caused for herding, and the ease of acquiring automatic weapons have led them to enter into poaching, having been accused, along with the Nyangatom, in recent years of being destroying the wild fauna of the region.
They enter National Parks, moving freely in the face of the impotence of the Parks personnel who are poorly trained and poorly provided with means of defense. The region has become so dangerous at times that, a few years ago, the construction of a road was suspended due to intimidating shots fired by Surma youths on the heads of workers on the construction site.
Society: They proudly maintain their traditions, despite government attempts to make them adapt to less ancestral ways of life.
Surma women are internationally known for the gourd discs or clay plates that decorate their lips and earlobes and that they wear from the age of twenty. To do this, they pierce the lower lip, where they place a small saucer that, over time, gradually change to larger and larger saucers. It is a body adornment that is important at the time of marriage: the larger the plate that the bride carries, her family will have the opportunity to request a larger dowry, generally consisting of heads of cattle.
Between November and February, the young singles engage in their favorite sport, Donga, a type of wrestling with long sticks. In the Donga, the prestige of their community and the possibility of celebrating a good marriage are at stake.
Another of the characteristics of the Surma, like some of the neighboring peoples, is their taste for body adornments. They hardly wear any clothes, but instead they adorn their entire bodies with paintings. It is believed that this custom, which is maintained today as mere decoration in another time, had an intimidating character towards other enemy ethnic groups. In fact, men fill their bodies from head to toe with the most diverse geometric patterns (often very different, based on serpentine, horizontal and vertical lines, round shapes and diagonal planes). To achieve this effect, they paint their entire bodies with white chalk mixed with water, sometimes mixed with ocher, or other dyes obtained from the earth. Then, with their fingertips, they remove parts of that paint, thus creating art on the skin.
DAY 05 // SUNDAY: TULGUIT (B, L, D)
Breakfast and departure to visit the villages of the Surma tribe, with their women and their large clay or wooden lip plates. Most women are missing their lower teeth, leaving a space for their lip plate to fit and it is well adapted to their mouth. From an early age, a first incision is made, into which wooden sticks of increasingly larger diameters are inserted, until the first plate enters, which increases until adulthood, reaching plates of about 30 cm. Night in Tulguit.
DAY 06 // MONDAY: TULGUIT – KIBISH – TULGUIT (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will leave this incredible place to go to Kibish, a new location of the Surma people. We will visit their villages and we will take a short walk guided by members of this tribe. The idea is to hire their services as guides, so that it is easier to make contact with them and learn more about their customs.
During the days of stay in this territory, they will look to see if there is any celebration of the well-known “Donga”, or fight with long sticks that is currently persecuted by the Ethiopian government, which wants to end this type of tradition, for which will be hard to find. We will also look for a river where they paint their entire bodies (many of their men are totally naked) with mud and ash, in a kind of very spectacular tribal art.
The Donga consists of a fight with enormous sticks in which the Surma defend their honor and that of their community. They display their virility and acquire social prestige. The Surma are polygamous, so the one who wins the most dongas, the more women he will have. The Donga is usually held at the end of the harvest. In addition, it helps them to prepare both physically and mentally for possible fights with other tribes. The participants fight two by two and are eliminated until there are only two fighters left, from which the winner of the tournament will emerge.
DAY 07 // TUESDAY: TULGUIT – KIBISH – TUM (B, L, D)
After breakfast, transfer by car to Tum. In our 4×4 we will head south through mountains covered with expressive vegetation. We will enter the territory of the Dizi ethnic group and we will look for a place to set up our camp and share moments with these charming people.
DAY 08 // WEDNESDAY: TUM – OMO NP (B, L, D)
After breakfast and early in the morning, and if the accesses allow us, we will leave for Adikas going up through a spectacular mountainous area and where we will be able to contact small communities of the Dizi ethnic group. We will continue to the Omo National Park to do a safari in the area, although we must be aware that in the national parks of Ethiopia, practically all the animals have disappeared. The park is almost unknown and there is no exact information on the fauna that inhabits it, but in 1999, large herds of antelopes (topis and alcephalus), zebras, a large number of buffaloes (some around the camp), waterbuks (water antelope), colobus monkeys, giraffes, and the big surprise, 6 lions in the plains called Llibai Plains. The lion, the great symbol of ancient Abyssinia, has disappeared from most areas of the country, and the Omo National Park is perhaps one of the last places where it is possible to see it, although we would have to be quite lucky.
DAY 09 // THURSDAY: P.N. FROM OMO – KANGATE (B, L, D)
After breakfast we will dismantle the camp, and we will head towards the unique town of Kangate, a small center of the Nyangaton ethnic group and where we will be able to contact this tribe, who have always faced the Surmas over their territories. We will look to camp in a Catholic mission of some Spanish missionaries, near small villages of Nyangatón that will allow us to have very close contact.
The Nyangaton (Bumes): They number about 30,000 people (2007) and live in the extreme southwest of Ethiopia and in two areas: on the Omo river and on the Kibish river. Their language is Nilo-Saharan, and is quite close to the languages of the Toposa and Turkana. They live more or less in harmony with their neighbors Toposa, Turkana, Murle and very little is known about the history of the Nyangatom people.
According to their traditions, they descend from the Karimojong and come from northern Nigeria. They began to cultivate sorghum in the vicinity of the Omo and Kibish rivers, and began to lead their current semi-nomadic life, in which they only leave their habitual residences during the dry season, to march with their herds towards areas with better pastures, approximately during the months of November to February.
On the banks of the Omo River, many Nyangatom families have settled and although they raise some cattle, their main activity has become agriculture. They have conflicts with their neighbors on a regular basis, causing constant cattle theft. One of the most important features of this tribe are the colorful necklaces worn by the women and thanks to the colour, number and placement of these traditional ornaments, we can get to know their social rank, hierarchy and family affiliation. For their part, men sometimes wear lip piercings, bracelets and metal rings. They can also have scarifications that represent the number of enemies killed and animals hunted.
DAY 10 // FRIDAY: KANGATE – KARO – TURMI (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will drive to Turmi, territory of the Hamer peoples. First we will cross the Omo River, by the only and recently built bridge that exists in the entire river and that allows to go from one bank to another. We will continue to Korcho, a small village located on top of a cliff on the Omo River, a place to contact the Karo people.
The Karo people are made up of about 1,000 people and are the only sedentary people in the area. They are seasonal farmers, herders and honey collectors. They practice fishing, which until recently was taboo and is only done by young singles. Their villages are a bit more sophisticated with well-crafted huts and barns. They get along well with the Hamers whom they hire as herdsmen and sell them sorghum. With the Nyangatom and the Mursi they always have conflicts. Physical beauty has a very important value among the Karo; the men, more presumptuous, decorate their bodies with white and ocher vegetable paints and always carry the “borkota” (a kind of head-resting stool) and a Kalasnikov with cartridge belts full of bullets. The women wear their hair in balls, wear a nail in their lower lip, and are laden with necklaces and bracelets. They are quite sociable and make a mead-type drink that they drink at parties at the end of the harvest. It can last several days and is the occasion to dance, decorate and form a couple. Like the Hamers, the young people practice the Salto del Toro, an unavoidable initiation rite that negatively stigmatizes those who fail. Continue our way to Turmi territory of the Hamer peoples.
DAY 11 // SATURDAY: TURMI – DIMEKA – TURMI (B, L, D)
Breakfast. Then we will head towards Dimeka (Saturday market), where we will have the opportunity to see the well-decorated Hamer and Karo family engaged in buying and selling their consumer products and paying no attention to the presence of tourists. Afternoon dedicated to touring the territory of the Hamer: they are one of the most interesting tribes, both for the clothing and ornamentation of the women and for the ceremonies they celebrate. With luck we will be able to see some Ukuli Bula, the jump over the oxen that marks the passage from young to adult. In this ceremony, the young Mazan whip the backs of the young Hamer women who are related to the young aspiring adult with thin whips. The marks on a woman’s back denote her ability to deliver and strength, a great social value. Hotel accommodation.
The Hamers: They are an agro-pastoral tribe made up of 46,532 people (2003) and who occupy the southwestern lands of Mago National Park, close to the border with Kenya. They subsist mainly on the cultivation of sorghum, millet, vegetables and some tobacco and cotton, as well as herds of sheep and goats. They usually paint their bodies in many colors and wear lots of beads. Its most significant ceremony is the “jumping of the oxen” (Ukuli Bula) performed by young people after leaving puberty. Days before the ceremony, invitations are distributed in the form of knotted leaves of dry grass. The ceremony lasts three days, but the most important day is the last. At sunset thirty oxen are lined up, the young man, naked, runs towards them and jumps on the back of the first one, then he begins to run over the animals, at the end of the line he turns around and walks in the opposite direction. If the initiate falls, it is considered a symbol of bad luck.
DAY 12 // SUNDAY: TURMI – KONSO – ARBA MINCH (B, L, D)
Early in the morning, we will leave for Konso, crossing Eribores villages on the way. Continuation crossing the Weyto valley to reach Konso where we will admire this town with a great agricultural tradition, the first in Africa to use the terraces to cultivate and practice a rich intensive agriculture (sorghum, wheat, barley, cotton, corn, fruit trees…). The women’s skirts remind us of the double roof of their interesting huts. We will continue the journey to the city of Arba Minch.
Konso: This town is made up of about 250,000 people spread over numerous villages. Sedentary farmers in a difficult and mountainous environment, they have worked very hard to build terraces on the slopes of these mountains and grow up to 28 different products. The towns are walled to defend themselves against attacks by wild animals and other ethnic groups. They have a very particular structure because in the inner labyrinth they have comfortable public spaces for social life. They are divided into nine clans known as “gada” and each clan has a religious authority called “pokwalla”. They are animists and practice a cult of the dead and in some cases they embalm them for years before burying them. They also make a wooden totem pole (waga) which they place next to the grave or fields of the deceased. They really are the “civilized” frontier against the semi-nomadic peoples of the Omo River. They are good musicians, blacksmiths, potters and weavers that are highly recognized by neighboring towns.
DAY 13 // MONDAY: ARBAMINCH (FLIGHT – AMH ADD 1530 H.) – ADDIS ABABA – DEPARTURE TO CITY OF ORIGIN (B, L, -)
Departure to Arbaminch and navigation through Lake Chamo at dawn to observe large Nile crocodiles, hippos, as well as numerous birds and flocks of pelicans. Then we will make an excursion to the nearby mountains of Chencha (3,000 m) where the unique Dorze people live. The vegetation changes and you can see bamboo and false banana plants. Their huts are very tall with sloping roofs topped at the front in the shape of an elephant’s nose or trunk. They are good weavers and farmers and from the false banana trunk they extract a paste called “kocho” which is a very important part of their diet. The “kocho” is wrapped in large leaves and fermented for months to make it edible. From these heights there are spectacular views over the Chamo and Abaya lakes. Transfer to the airport to take the flight to Addis Ababa. After lunch, we will leave for the airport to take the flight to Addis Ababa. In the Ethiopian capital we will have just enough time to make the last purchases. At the agreed time, transfer to the airport to take the flight back to Spain.
Day use room.
DAY 14 // TUESDAY: ARRIVAL IN THE CITY OF ORIGIN (-, -, -)
Departure of the flight, night on board and end of the trip.