Best of Southern Ethiopia

Explore the very best that Southern Ethiopia has to offer. Combining the Omo Valley with the scenic delights of Yirgalem and Bale Mountains National Park, this adventure is a perfect blend of culture, history, and staggering landscapes.

13 Days

Best of Southern Ethiopia - 13

Itinerary Map

Landmarks visited on Best of Southern Ethiopia


Day 1: Addis Ababa

We will meet you at Bole International Airport for your international flight. The first day we spend in the bustling capital of the country: Addis Ababa. We take you on a city tour visiting some sites of your choice like the Ethnographic Museum, National Museum, Trinity Cathedral, Mercato, the largest market of Africa, or the smaller and easier accessible Shola market. We can also visit the Entoto Hills just outside Addis Ababa, meanwhile passing by the Shiro Meda market, famous for traditional clothing. Or have a walk through a village to get an impression how many inhabitants of Addis Ababa are living. When you are interested in art, there are several galleries in town. In the evening we visit a cultural restaurant, enjoying the great Ethiopian food together with traditional music and dance from all over this fascinating country.

Overnight: Monarch Hotel.

Day 2: Addis Ababa to Jinka

A short domestic flight takes us to Jinka where we meet our vehicle waiting at the airport. We are entering an area where the people living their authentic tribal life. Nowadays a vanishing lifestyle. More than at any other place we shouldn't forget that we are the visitors and act responsible. In the afternoon we visit the Jinka museum at the South Omo Research Centre to learn more about the people living in the area and we visit the Ari people who have adopted a much more 'western' lifestyle than their neighbors we are going to meet the coming days.

Overnight: Eco Omo Lodge.

Day 3: Jinka to Turmi

Early morning, we travel into the Mago National Park on our way to probably the most well-known people of the Omo Valley: the Mursi. Don't expect much game on this brief visit to the park. After about a 2 hours drive we reach one of the villages where the Mursi people are living.  We return to Jinka for lunch and continue to Turmi, traversing an area where Ari, Banna, Bashada and eventually Hamar people are living. En route we visit the weekly market in Key Afar where we find Ari, Banna and Tsamai people. Today or tomorrow we have a chance to experience the ‘Evangadi’ dance or the ‘Bull jumping’ ceremony. We have to be lucky to be a witness and it is not guaranteed, therefore it is not included in the tour price.

Overnight: Buska Lodge.

Day 4: Turmi 

This morning we visit the Karo people in Kolcho, well known for their body painting. They live along the bank of the Omo River, about 60 km from Turmi, a 2.5 hrs drive. We continue to visit the Nyangatom people near the small settlement of Kangatan, not too far from Kolcho, at the other side of the Omo River. To reach Kolcho and Kangatan we have to cross the Kizoo river. Usually a dry riverbed, but not passable after heavy rain.

Overnight: Buska Lodge.

Day 5: Turmi

We drive about 70 km to Omerate at the east bank of the Omo River. This is the area where the Dassanech people are living and we are going to cross the Omo River by local canoe to visit one of their villages. We return to Turmi and continue to Dimeka where Saturday is the weekly market. Mainly Hamar, but also Bashada and Banna people travel from far to attend the market.

Overnight: Buska lodge. 

Day 6: Turmi to Arba Minch

We try to take the road at eastern side of the Buska Mountains and visit en route the Arbore people. This road follows a riverbed for some kilometers, mostly dry and no problem but not passable after heavy rain. After lunch in Karat-Konso village we meet the Konso people with their maze like villages and terraces for agriculture. They are also well known for their Waga stelae, grave markers for the brave and important men of this people. The cultural landscape of Konso is the youngest World Heritage Site of Ethiopia. After lunch we proceed to Arba Minch.

Overnight: Paradise lodge.

Day 7: Arba Minch

This morning we embark on a boat trip on Lake Chamo and have a good chance to come up close with most probably the biggest crocodiles you have ever seen. Many (water) birds and hippopotamus are also easily found. In the afternoon we drive from Arba Minch at an altitude of 1400 m to the highland village of Dorze at 2600 m, enjoying beautiful vistas over Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo on the way. We visit the Dorze people with their famous beehive like huts and see the preparation of their staple food made of false banana. Of course we try their food. Monday is market day and well worth a visit.

Overnight: Paradise Lodge. 

Day 8: Arba Minch to Yirgalem

We continue our journey on the bottom of the Rift Valley and close to our destination we enter the green and fertile hills where a lot of the famous Ethiopian coffee is grown. En route we visit Senkele Game Sanctuary where we have a good chance to find the endemic Swaynes hartebeest. We stay at the Aregash Lodge in Yirgalem, situated at a coffee plantation. The lodge is a fine example of an eco-lodge. The huts are built in the same style as the surrounding Sidamo people. Delicious organic, home grown, food is served in the restaurant.

Overnight: Aregash Lodge.

Day 9: Yirgalem

Today a very relaxing day with a visit of the coffee plantation and a nearby Sidamo village. Around the lodge we’ll find many monkeys and beautiful birds. Late afternoon hyenas are usually around while we are enjoying a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

Overnight: Aregash Lodge.

Day 10: Yirgalem to Hawassa

It is short drive to Hawassa, where we visit the fish market with many birds around, waiting to get their share of the catch of the day. An optional boat trip is available to explore the lake. The afternoon is spend at leisure at our lovely resort, owned by Ethiopia’s most famous long distance runner Haile Gebreselassie.

Overnight: Haile Resort.  

Day 11: Hawassa to Goba

Our next destination is the Bale Mountains. In Dinsho we visit the park headquarters to finalize the formalities to enter the park. Here we enjoy a walk in beautiful surrounding area with juniper-hagenia forest and have a very good chance to see the endemic mountain nyala and Menelik's bushbuck.

Overnight: Bale Mountains Lodge 

Day 12: Goba

The Bale Mountains are known for great scenery and of course we continue our search for endemic species. Among them the Ethiopian wolf and many birds. The Sanetti plateau is Afroalpine moorland with the highest point, Tullu Deemtu, at 4377 m. The Harenna Forest, south of the Sanetti Plateau, is Afromontane cloud forest. The area is easily accessible via Africa's highest all-weather road.

Overnight: Bale Mountains Lodge

Day 13: Goba to Addis

On the last day of our remarkable visit to southern Ethiopia we leave the Bale Mountains behind and return by flight to Addis Ababa. Our minibus is available for transport around town and a room is available until the time is there to take you to Bole International Airport for your international flight.

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