Southern Ethiopia offers a markedly contrasting experience to the historical North.
Explore the lakes of the Great Rift Valley, enjoy unique wildlife experiences and the chance to meet some fascinating tribes deep in the Omo Valley.
Southern Ethiopia offers a markedly contrasting experience to the historical North, with the dry and dusty highlands replaced by verdant mountain ranges, the lakes of the Great Rift Valley and fertile farmlands fed by the mighty Omo River. Castles and churches are replaced with unique wildlife experiences and the chance to meet some of the vibrant tribes deep within the Omo Valley.
Having started in Addis Ababa you will drive down to the breathtaking Bale Mountains, where some of Ethiopia’s most spectacular scenery unfolds before your eyes. Trips in to the Harrena Forest and Sanetti Plateau fill your days here, with a huge variety of wildlife including the World’s rarest canid, the Ethiopian Wolf to be spotted. From Bale you will spend two pleasant days travelling cross-country to reach the Omo Valley, with nights spent on the shores of lakes Awassa and Chamo respectively. Enjoy a scenic boat trip on Lake Chamo before heading deep in to the Omo Valley, past the normal stopping point of Turmi and on to your camp which is tucked away on the banks of the Omo River. The camp is your base for getting away from the crowds to see some of the more remote and interesting tribes of the region, aided greatly by the fact that your guide, Lale, is from the region and so knows the intricacies of the tribes and offers you a truly immersive experience. After your time exploring the Omo, you will be transferred to Jinka for a short flight to Addis Ababa and then fly home from there.
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Day 1 - Fly to Addis Ababa from Heathrow:
Fly overnight from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa, arriving early the morning.
Day 2 - Arrive in Addis Ababa:
You will be met at Addis Ababa airport and transferred to a nearby hotel for a refreshing breakfast and a quick briefing on the adventure you are about to undertake. From Addis you will then set off on the scenic drive South to the stunning Bale Mountains National Park, the first stop on your discovery of Southern Ethiopia. Your home for the next 3 nights will be Bale Mountain Lodge, a beautifully designed lodge which offers panoramic views to the surrounding peaks. Arrive in time for sundowner drinks and dinner before a well-earned night’s rest.
Day 3 - Explore Herrena Forest:
Start your exploration in earnest today, with a visit to the Harrena Forest, a wildlife lovers haven, with sightings such as giant forest hog, black-maned lion, vervet and Bale monkeys as well as rarer species such as Meneilek’s bushbuck all enjoyed on a regular basis. Keen birders will also revel in the variety of avian life here, with unique species such as Abyssinian catbird, black-headed siskin and Ethiopian cisticola all spotted. With clear mountain streams, beautiful clearings where you can enjoy a picnic lunch and the feeling of being a million miles from anywhere, this really is an amazing spot to explore.
Day 4 - Explore the Sanetti Plateau:
One of the joys of the Bale Mountains is that not two days are the same and you can enjoy a huge array of different experiences within a relatively small area. With this firmly in your mind you will set off this morning to explore the Sanetti Plateau, a stunning open plain and home to arguably THE reason to visit the Bale Mountains – the chance to see the Ethiopian wolf – the world’s rarest canid. Despite there being only 350 of these creatures left, success ratings of seeing them are remarkably high, as the plateau is home to their favourite prey, the oddly endearing giant mole rat. Marvel at the stunning vistas that unfold wherever you look and enjoy the chance to visit the small village of Rira where you can enjoy a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Day 5 - Journey to the Great Rift Valley:
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the lodge before setting off out of the park and down in to the Great Rift Valley as you start your journey South-West to the Omo Valley. Spend tonight at the lovely Haile Resort in Awassa, a great spot to spend the night relaxing and reflecting on what will have been an invigorating start to your trip.
Day 6 - Journey through the lush lowlands:
Continue through the fertile lowlands of Southern Ethiopia today, enjoying the lush green scenery that unfolds wherever you look. Tonight will be spent in the lakeside town of Arba Minch, the principal town in the South and a lovely place to relax and take in a well-earned afternoon of R&R. The Haile Resort will be your home this evening as well.
Day 7 - Tranquil boat trip and Omo Valley:
Rise early this morning for breakfast on the terrace before enjoying a boat trip on Lake Chamo, which is home to a huge population of crocodile and hippo, as well as an interesting array of birdlife. Return to dry land and set off South in to the Omo Valley, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way. In the late afternoon you will arrive at the beautiful Lale’s Camp, a truly incredible spot tucked away in a grove of trees on the banks of the Omo River. Your guide and host, the famous Lale, will be there to greet you and will join you for dinner to discuss the plan for visiting the region’s varied tribes over the coming days.
Day 8 - Unique interactions with tribes of the Omo Valley:
Commence your exploration of the Omo Valley this morning, with Lale taking you deep in to the region to start meeting the incredible indigenous people who call the valley home. The remote location of the camp, as well as Lale’s knowledge and ties to the region means that you can get away from the “masses” that visit the Omo Valley and enjoy some truly unique interactions with the tribes, that many other visitors are not able to do. After a day exploring return to the camp in the late afternoon to enjoy sundowner drinks on the bank of the Omo River.
Day 9 - Live like a local:
As well as being able to see some of the more remote tribes of the region, you will also have the chance to fly camp by one of the local villages, a truly unique experience only on offer to guests at Lale’s Camp. This allows you to feel at one with the region and learn more about the unique customs that each of the tribes have. You can choose between spending a night with the Mursi or Hammer people, both of whom are some of the most celebrated tribes in the region and well-worth making the visit down here to see.
Day 10 - A final day exploring with Lale:
A final day exploring with Lale can be spent seeing some of the tribes that you haven’t been able to get to as yet, with a trip down to the border with Kenya, where the Karo and Dasanaech people live an especially rewarding experience. As you travel around Lale will tell you more about the ever-increasing challenges that these tribes have, as interactions with one another, climate issues, tourism and the development of the Omo Valley in to a farming and industrial heartland changes their ancient way of life. A truly fascinating man and the perfect guide for your time in this unique region.
Day 11 - Farewell to your hosts:
Bid farewell to your hosts this morning and head out of the Omo Valley on the drive to Jinka, where you will catch the schedule afternoon flight to Addis Ababa. There you will be met and transferred to The Golden Tulip Hotel where you will have use of a day room until you are collected in the late evening and transferred back to the airport for the flight home in the small hours of tomorrow morning.
Day 12 - Time to head home:
Early morning flight to London Heathrow, landing at breakfast time.
Duration: 12 Days
Location: Ethiopia Holidays, Africa
Pricing is based on 4 people travelling (cost for 2 available on request) and has the following inclusions:
- All International and Domestic flights
- Accommodation as indicated
- Private transport throughout the trip
- All meals
- Guiding and entrance fees
If you are looking for a more private experience in the Bale Mountains then you can upgrade to the beautiful Webb's Tented Camp for an additional £985 per person for the 3 nights in the park.