South and North of Ethiopia on New Year


Ethiopia is one of the most important and interesting countries in Africa. While it is one of the least developed at this time, there remains the great historical and archaeological heritage, religious traditions and cultural layers. By visiting both Southern and Northern parts of Ethiopia in one tour, you will dive into two whole worlds: the wilderness if the Omo valley and the spiritualism of the center of Christianity in Gondar and Lalibela. You will sail between monasteries of Tana lake, walk the salt deserts and ascent the live volcano of Afar.


The group meets in Addis Ababa International Airport and the journey begins. First, we will get some rest in a hotel in Addis Ababa where we can take a nap and have breakfast.
In the morning, we will start our way to the south and will ride around 450 km, approaching the lost tribes of the Omo valley.

That day we will meet the first of the tribes, Dorze. Unlike many others, it belongs to the Ethiopian Orthodox church and for thousands of years has been famous for its cotton produce. The mountain dwellers, people of this tribe learned to build elephant-shaped houses, weave natural cotton clothing, sintering of ceramics and make an amazing honey vodka. We will meet the people of the tribe in one of their villages and will learn about life and traditions of the Dorze tribe with the help of the local guide, Makkonen.

Then, we will be on our way to the town of Arbaminch (translated as “40 water springs”). Here we will stay in a nice lodge and have some rest before the next day.

Lodging in Addis-Ababa: Addis Ababa Adot-Tina Hotel
Lodging in Arbaminch: Arbaminch Paradise Lodge or equivalent
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Right after breakfast we move out towards Turmi – the area where the Hamer tribe lives. Before we get there, we will also stop by the Arbore tribe village. This tribe is known in the area by their magical skills and is highly respected by the other tribes, who sometimes go to them for help if they can’t solve their own problems.

We will also drop by the Dimeka village, where the traditional weekly market will take place that day. We will be able to sample local beer, honey wine, take part in the coffee ceremony and check out the local goods – tobacco, coffee, grains and onions.

After lunch we are off to see the Hamar tribe, the most handsome and expressive tribe of the Ethiopian south. It is known for their fat cattle, large territories and a huge number of local traditions and beliefs.

Lodging: Turmi Buska Lodge or equivalent
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Karo tribe’s name is translated as “Fish eaters” from the Hamer’s tribe language. People of Karo live on the bank of the Omo river and enjoy not only the pretty scenery, but also all the fish that the river brings. Most of the tribes in the Omo valley do not eat fish, preferring to raise cattle, but Karo is an exception which gets them to be laughed at from time to time by the others. Karo also is one of the few tribes that wear flowers, which, when combined with the AK-47s, looks pretty impressive. We will spend few hours in the Karo tribe’s village and after lunch will continue to the next tribe, Dassanech (previously known as Geleb).

On the way to the Dassanech tribe, we will be facing a real adventure, namely, crossing of the Omo river in old wooden canoes. There are no bridges over the river, and these boats are the only way to get across.

The Dassanech tribe is one of the least developed tribes in the area and, therefore, one of the poorest. They also get laughed at by the other tribes. For example, their previous name, Geleb, meant “Darky”. Their skin tone is in fact much darker than of the other tribes Arbore or Hamar, which is explained by their place of living – it’s almost right next to the South Sudan border. The Dassanech have an interesting tradition of female ranking with the help of decorations and clothings, and also a very characteristic way of the huts building.

Lodging: Turmi Buska Lodge or equivalent
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

On the fourth day we will travel to Jinka, one of the most remote regions of the Southern Ethiopia. There is an excellent ethnographic museum in Jinka, a very picturesque farmer’s market and, most importantly, the tribes of Ari and Mursi live nearby.

After leaving the lodge, we will travel 250 km towards Jinka. That day we will visit the Konso tribe and stop by the weekly market which is patroned by the tribes of Konso, Bena, Ari and sometimes Mursi.

Anyway, the Konso tribe is another one relatively developed tribe of the Southern Ethiopia and, together with the Dorse, is known for their cotton goods, but most importantly, this tribe was the one to introduce the principle of terrace farming to the while Africa. Terraces on the side of the hills are one of Ethiopia’s prettiest sights, and the history and traditions of the tribe is filled with remarkable beliefs and rituals. For instance, this tribe practices mummification of the dead and the only one which respects the cult of the dead. We will have a detailed tour on the rituals and customs of the Konso tribe and one can say that from this moment we will start to go deep into the really lost Ethiopia.

After lunch we will be on our way to Jinka and stop by one of the most well-known weekly markets of Ethiopia, Key Afar, patroned by the tribes of Ari and Bena. The big and bustling market of Ket Afar attracts hundreds of sellers and buyers, every one of whom is trying to get the best deal. Someone sells garlic, someone buys maize, and someone just came to drink some beer and talk to friends.

Here we can know the people of the Bena tribe a little better, who are easily recognized by the massive and colorful bead decorations. As a rule, the markets of the Ethiopian south are the most vivid and colorful sight. Places like these are the dream of any ethnography enthusiast.
Afterwards, we will arrive to Jinka and take a stroll along the town’s main street before the dinner. We will pass another market, little shops, local movie theatres (these need a separate story!), the bulls and their beaters and will learn for sure what “faranji” means.

Lodging: Jinka Resort Hotel or equivalent
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

We will dedicate this whole day to one of the Southern Ethiopia most famous tribes, Mursi. This tribe is known in the western world mostly due to their women and their custom of the lower lip piercing. Young girls pierce their lips and insert small ceramic washers. After a while, this washer gets bigger and bigger, reaching the size of the medium plate. The Mursi tribe is also different from the other tribes of the region by their height, unusual hats worn by females and excellent military knowledge.

In the Omo valley every one of the tribes have their own specialization. Hamer own a lot of cattle, Beshada produce ceramics, Ari grow coffee, Nyangatom trades weapons, Karo fishes. The tribe of Mursi is known for their cattle and their fighting spirit. The first thing that we will need to do when we arrive to the Mursi village is to learn couple of words in their language, shake hands with all of the Elders, pick up several kids and get dirty (you’ll see).

After hanging out with the Mursi and seeing one of the most scenic views of the valley we will move out towards the land of the Konso tribe. In the evening, we will have one more seminar on the ethnography and history of the Omo valley and will figure out the differences between the tribes that we will have seen by that time and what lead to such striking distinctions. Then, tired but happy, we’ll go to sleep.

Lodging: Konso Kanta Lodge or equivalent
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

In the morning we will visit the village of the Konso tribe, known for their skirts and the original hut design. Moreover, Konso is the only tribe in the region with the developed cult of the dead that respects their dead. They are also known for their excellent cotton goods and colorful clothing.

After lunch, our path will lie to Hawassa where we spend the night, and our journey to the Ethiopian North will begin the next day.

Lodging: Hawassa Enjory Tadesse Hotel or equivalent
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

On this day we are to begin our way to the North, namely, to the town of Awash. On our way, we will witness the unbelievably scenic views of the Northern nature, wild animals and birds, and, of course, continue to meet more people of Ethiopia. We will visit the National Awash park known for their ungulates, monkeys and hundreds of birds.

After travelling 215 km, we will arrive to the hotel to get some rest, prepare for the next day and hear an introductory lecture on the history and culture of Ethiopia.

Lodging: Awash Genet Hotel or equivalent
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Difficult, but extremely interesting day. We will have to travel 590 km, reach the North of Ethiopia and meet the Afar tribe. We will see amazing landscapes, colorful deserts, rock quarries, woods and wild, wild nature of the Ethiopian North.

We will arrive to the area called Afdera, one of the most remote places of not only Ethiopia, but the whole Africa. This place is so undeveloped that there is no hotels, lodges or anything touched by the civilization at all. And this is great, as we get to spend the night at the campsite. We will sleep on the beds made of twigs (and mattresses) and, most importantly, we will have our own cook, Mandi, the best cook in Africa!

Lodging: Afdera campsite
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

In the morning, before it’s too hot (in this area the temperature doesn’t change much over the year) we will ride to the Afdera lake and the salt quarries. Although this region is totally wild and uncivilized, a big chunk of Ethiopia’s salt harvested here. The tribe of Afar works in the quarries and salt mines, cuts kilometer-wide layers of salt into bricks, loads them on camels and sends to the nearest city with the caravans. This sight is unbelievable and magical. We will see here the strings of caravans and its cameleers and feel like we are in the fairy tale.

After lunch we will travel to El Dom (the campsite that stands at the bottom of the Erta Ale volcano). I have had my share of adventures, but nothing compares to what we will experience this evening. Closer to the dinner time we will start our ascent to the mouth of the volcano. We will have to hike few kilometers before we reach the top and will see the volcano in all of its might and beauty. Erta Ale is one of the few places in the world where we can actually walk to the edge of the volcano’s mouth and look down inside, feel its heat and fire. We will spend the night in the campsite near the mouth of Erta Ale (did I forget to mention it will be the most romantic night of your life) and will start the descent early in the morning, before the sunrise.

Lodging: campsite at the volcano’s top
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

In the morning, after breakfast we will go to Hamed Ela. The way there is around 100 km. We will stay at the campsite of Hamed Ela and spend the rest of the day visiting the nearby village, meeting the Afar tribe and getting some rest.

Lodging: Hamed Ela campsite
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Early in the morning we will make our way to the Earth’s hottest place and the prettiest part of the Syrian-African Rift, the Dalol lake (Dalol Cobar Sink).

One may wonder what to expect at the planet’s hottest place? Probably dull, gray desert? Nothing like that. In Dalol, we will see so many colors and tones that you have never seen before even if you have traveled all around the world. Even in the coolest seasons the temperature can reach 40-45C, but still you will not want to leave this hell on Earth due to all the oxidized minerals, hot geyser eruptions, huge purple, black, green, yellow salt boulders… At the same time all of this explodes, seethes, lives under our feet. This place is so crazy that it’s definitely worth the long way to get there.

After Dalol, we will swing by the salty Assale Lake, where all the salt mining happens. Everything here is dedicated to the one thing – the salt, African white gold.

After lunch, we will go to the town of Mekele, the region’s capital.

Lodging: Mekele Planet Hotel or equivalent
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

With the sun’s first rays, we will go to the stone temples of Lalibela to witness with our own eyes one the world’s best sites for any ethnographer and photographer, the underground Lalibela.

We will meet the Ethiopian kesses, feel the life of the monks and visit one of the world’s most important and beautiful temples, which unlike anything else anywhere. Walking around Lalibela, we will be accompanied by numerous people wearing white and coming there to a prayer. This will take us all day.

Lodging: Lalibela Tukul Village Hotel
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

In the morning we will visit one more pearl of the Ethiopian Christianity, Bahar Dar. Our way will lie along Debre Tavor and will be filled with unbelievably beautiful scenery. Upon arrival to Bahar Dar, we will have lunch and start our tour of the Tana lake, one of Ethiopia’s most famous lakes, that is also a home for 29 monasteries and skits.

We will sail on the special boat to the Ura Kidane Mehret monastery known by its colorful paintings and frescos. We will meet the monks, learn about their lifestyle and find out what is the difference between Ethiopian orthodox church and other Christian confessions.

Lodging: Bahar Dar Rahnile Hotel
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

This morning will begin with one of Ethiopia’s nature wonders, the waterfalls of the Blue Nile. This is second tallest waterfall in Africa – up to 45 meters tall and 400 meters wide.

Afterwards we will make our way to Gondar, known for its palaces, temples and the villages where the Ethiopian Jewish community, Falashi, used to live. We will visit the Royal Palaces, the Debre Berhane Selassie temple, and the Falashi village.

Lodging: Gondar Goha Hotel
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast, we will continue our tour of Gondar and will go to the residence of Mintewab, the 18th century empress. By the lunchtime we will be done in Gondar and will get to the airport to fly into Addis Ababa.

This morning we will visit Debre Birehanu Church, one of the best and most beautiful churches in Ethiopia, with ancient frescoes and music instruments.

After dinner our tour will end by the transfer to the Addis Ababa International Airport. Although the days of our travels have ended, the memories and the desire to come back to Ethiopia will stay!

Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Difficulty level:

3299 per person

Price based on twin room accommodation. Additional payment for single room accommodation – 380$

Sign up
What’s included in the tour’s cost:
    • Guidance of the professional historian and photographer Einat Klein, including lectures and seminars on ethnography and photography in the Southern and Northern Ethiopia
    • Staying in the lodges listed in the tour’s program or the equivalent ones
    • Visit to Lalibela National Park
    • Excursion to Lalibela
    • Visit to the National Park “Emperor’s palaces of Gondar”
    • Excursion to Gondar
    • Visit to all the locations listed in the tour’s program
    • Visit to the villages of the tribes listed in the tour’s program
    • Ferry over the Omo river
    • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners every day during the tour
    • Mineral water throughout the tour
    • Transportation in Nissan Patrols и Toyota Land Cruisers 4х4 (4 passengers + 1 driver in each 4x4WD)
    • Extra 4x4WD with the cook and gear in Danakil desert
    • Accompaniment of rangers during the Erta Ale volcano hike
    • English-speaking drivers
    • Entrance fees, rangers, tolls
What’s not included:
  • International airfare. The tour’s program starts from the moment of the meeting the group in Addis-Ababa airport.
  • Domestic flight airfare (Gondar-Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airlines, $168)
  • Visa
  • Medical insurance
  • Additional beverages (soda, beer, etc)
  • Personal expenses (laundry, cell phone, etc)
  • Tips to the tribes for taking pictures (several dollars each day)
  • Fee for the “Bull riding” ceremony (only if it takes place, around $20)
  • Tips to the drivers and cooks (suggested $100 from each tourist for the whole tour)
  • All other expenses not listed in the tour program

Getting to Ethiopia:

The tour will be conducted in English and is available to anybody in the world. The tour begins and ends in Addis Ababa International Airport, and every traveller is responsible to get there. We recommend Turkish Airlines, but please feel free to choose your favorite airlines.

All of the group participants must arrive to Addis Ababa by 04 of Jan before 7 AM for the meeting with the group’s guide. For those participants who will arrive to Addis Ababa on the Turkish Airlines flight TK676, pick-up at the airport and transfer to the hotel will be arranged. Other participants arriving on other flights will be picked up later and will join the group in the morning (skipping the hotel).

Domestic flight:
Airline tickets for the domestic flight Gondar-Addis Ababa are reserved by the host and their cost will be added to the tour’s total cost.
Payment terms:
The listed tour price is for one person in a double occupancy room. If you would like to stay in the single occupancy room, this will cost additional $450 for the whole tour.
Advance payment of $500 is required. The rest of the total amount due is payable in cash when you arrive in Ethiopia, or by a bank transfer, cash or check before the start of the tour.
The international airline ticket is reserved and paid for by every participant him/herself. We can help you to reserve the ticket if needed, but this remains the responsibility of the participant.
Airline tickets for the domestic flight Gondar-Addis Ababa are reserved by the host and their cost will be added to the tour’s total cost.

Please make sure to include your preferred payment method when signing up for the tour.

Our commitment:

Organizers commit to provide the best possible service during the whole duration of the tour:

  • Pickup of every participant in the Addis Ababa International Airport on the first day of the tour and drop-off in the same airport on the last day of the tour; transportation in 4×4 WDs in good condition and equipped with A/C; lodging and meals three times a day;
  • All necessary camping gear in the Danakil desert;
  • Additional 4×4 WD with a cook, power generator, sleeping gear, etc…
  • We commit to conduct the tour in accordance to the norms and safety rules of Ethiopia and follow all required regulations as well as to provide high quality informational content of the tour and professional guidance.
  • We sign an agreement with every participant that contains the description of every item of the program and obligations of the parties.

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