Come with us on this wild journey that takes you through some of the most remote parts of Africa and to the most incredible tribes in Ethiopia; the Surma; Mursi.
Ethiopia is a country that is rich with colourful history, amazing wildlife, breathtaking scenery and fascinating tribal groups that have resisted pressures of the modern world to hold onto their ancient traditions. The Surma tribe are so remote that it can take up to five days to reach them by car, stop at various sites along the way to enjoy the magnificent landscape of Africa with rolling hills and barren deserts.
Explore Addis Ababa, the largest city in Ethiopia and home of the ‘Mercato’ one of the largest open-air markets in Africa. Discover Mago National Park, Ethiopia’s newest nature reserve and home to the Mursi tribe and herds of African Elephants, Grant ’s gazelle and Burchill’s Zebra. The Mursi are known for their body scarification and (among the women) the wearing of lip plates. If you’re lucky, you will get the chance to witness the coming of age ritual practised by this tribe of bull jumping.
Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival in Addis, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The name of the city, in Amharic, means ‘new flower’. Founded in 1886 by Menelik II, it is located at 2,500 metres above sea level in one of the highest parts of the Entoto mountain chain (3,000 metres above sea level). Addis enjoys an excellent climate all year round, with an average temperature of 25°C. Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of jacaranda trees, interesting museums and one of the largest open air markets in Africa, known as the “Mercato”.
This afternoon, you will have a city tour which includes a trip to the Archaeological Museum (where you can meet 3.25 million year old Lucy), the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Ethnological Museum (the former residence of His Majesty Emperor Haile Sellassie).
Overnight at the Jupiter International Hotel or similar
An early start today, departing at around 07:30, heading down the western side of the Rift Valley passing through Butajira, Hossana and Sodo. It’s a long day’s drive, taking about 8 hours with lunch and coffee stops en route, but it is on a good asphalt road. The scenery is very attractive as you pass down the Rift Valley, on the western side. There are interesting places to be visited en route – the Neolithic site and museum at Melka Kunture, the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Tiya, and the rock hewn church at Adadi Mariam, contemporaneous with the churches of Lalibela.
After Sodo you skirt the western shores of Lakes Abaya and Chamo, the southernmost of Ethiopia’s Rift Valley Lakes, before arriving in Arba Minch, or “40 springs”, and check into Paradise Lodge. The Lodge is situated on a hill overlooking the narrow stretch of forested land, known locally as “the bridge of heaven”, which separates the two lakes.
Distance: 454 kms – approx. 8 hours
Overnight at Paradise Lodge or similar
Today, you drive south to Konso, whose people are known for their intricately terraced hillsides, fine woven materials and the carved totems with which they decorate their graves. Konso is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Market days in Konso are Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Pass the Weyto river where you will see a great variety of pelicans and other aquatic birds. On Thursdays there is a very attractive market at Key Afer, frequented by the Bena and Ari people. After your visit, you turn towards Jinka, where the markets are held on Saturdays and Tuesdays. This afternoon oyou could visit the museum in Jinka (not included), which along with various artefacts has a lot of ethnographical information about the people of the Omo.
Located in southwestern Ethiopia, near the borders of Sudan and Kenya, Jinka is the largest town in the Debub Omo Zone. It serves as an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding area. This remote market town is home to the Mursi people, who are well known for their elaborate lip plates made of clay. At the South Omo Research Center and Museum, visitors can learn more about the Mursi, as well as other groups in the region, through a series of exhibits detailing the cultures and customs of local tribes. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby Mago National Park, where abundant wildlife finds shelter in the dense acacia woodland. (B,L,D)
Distance: 275 kms – approx. 5 hours
Two night stay at Eco-Omo Safari Lodge
You leave Jinka and drive to the Mago National Park. The park has a variety of mammals and birds, but the animals tend to stay away from the roads and sightings cannot be guaranteed. In the park you may see the following animals: elephant, buffalo, Grant’s Gazelle, Topi and Burchill’s Zebra.
The main attraction in Mago are the Mursi people, so you head to Shembel, the nearest Mursi village and if you wish, you can go further, up the escarpment to the Mursi villages there! The Mursi are known for their body scarification and (among the women) the wearing of lip plates. You return to Jinka for your overnight arrangements in the Eco Omo Lodge. (B,L,D)
After breakfast at the Eco Omo Lodge, you will depart and begin your visit to the Hamer villages around Turmi. The Hamer are a fine-looking people, both the men and women take great pride in their appearance, shaving and colouring their hair, oiling their bodies and decorating themselves with beads and bracelets worn around their arms and legs. If this visit falls on a Saturday or a Tuesday, you will also visit the market at Dimeke, which is one of the most colourful and interesting in the area.
During the time you have in Turmi, if there is a bull jumping ceremony in the vicinity, you will head to see this rite of passage ceremony for young men, marking their transition to adulthood. It may also possible to see Evangadi, or Hamer dancing ceremonies. (B,L,D)
Distance: 132kms – 3 hours
Two night at Buska Lodge or similar
After breakfast you will drive to Murule, visiting the Korcho village of the Karo people. Among the people living along the Omo, the Karo excel in face and body painting. You will then head to your lodge in Turmi, the Buska Lodge for lunch.
After lunch you will head towards the Omo River to Omo Rate, passing Kangate and the villages of the Bume people, going on to visit the Galeb villages. Here you will cross the river in a local boat and visit the villages on the other side. (B,L,D)
Overnight at Buska Lodge or similar
After breakfast you will be transferred to Kibish, which is approximately 140 km, where you will visit the Demeka Market on the way (if the day is Saturday). (B,L,D)
Distance: 140 kms – 3 hours
3 nights camping at Kibish
Following breakfast, you will head around the old Kibish village (14kms round trip) for the visit of more of the Surma villages – to visit and appreciate the very attractive culture of Surma people, they are renowned for the strange custom followed by their women who, on reaching maturity, have their lower lips slit and circular or rectangular clay discs inserted. The Surma men are well known for their stick fighting, which is called Donga. It is extremely rare to witness a Donga. (B,L,D)
Today you will have the chance to explore more Surma Tribe Villages, hopefully witnessing some of their ceremonies & cultural-events. According to the Suri, they came to their present territory near Mount Naita about 200 years ago from the banks of the Nile River. The Surma have a sky god named Tuma. The Suri also believe in spirits and use medicine and undertake sacrifices or prayers and directly send them to Tuma. Another belief of the Suri is the rain maker.
Piercing and lip plates are a strong part of the Suri culture. At the point of puberty most women have their bottom teeth removed in order to get their lower lip pierced. Once the lip is pierced, it’s then stretched and a lip plate is then placed in the hole of the piercing. (B,L,D)
Today you will depart from Kibish and the Surma Villages, leaving with fond memories of a truly unique way life that is unparalleled to anything you will find in the Western world. You will be driven to Mizan Teferi. (B,L,D)
Distance: 208 kms – 5 hours
Overnight at the Salayish Hotel
This morning, you’ll drive to Jimma for your connecting scheduled flight and head back to Addis Ababa. In Addis Ababa, you’ll be transferred to the Jupiter Hotel. (B)
Distance: 220 kms – approx. 5 hours + fly
Overnight at Jupiter International Hotel or similar
Today, you’ll head to the Addis Ababa International Airport, where you will connect with your onward flight. (B)
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.