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Insights into Southern Ethiopia

A tour created to give you true insights to what Southern Ethiopia is like. Culturally and geographically so divers and only few in common with Ethiopia‘s northern parts it is a world of one’s own. The south-western regions have one of the most colourful and miscellaneous cultural diversity all over the world. Almost fifty different peoples with their own cultures, lifestyles and beliefs inhabit these regions.

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Accompanied by one of our experienced SimienEcoTours guides (English, Italian, Spanish, French & German available) you will visit the castellated settlements of the Konso people and meet their king, encounter the skilful weavers from the Dorze tribe and wander through picturesque villages of the coffee farmers in the Sidama Region. A journey that deliberately omits some of the supposed ‘must sees’ in order to give you intensive and everlasting impressions of some non-touristic places that showcase what Southern Ethiopia is like in an authentic way.

From the Great African Rift Valley savannahs and its semi-deserts you will climb to the mountainous areas to explore the natural treasures of Bale Mountains National Park where some of Ethiopia’s rarest endemic wildlife lives such as the Ethiopian wolves, the Mountain Nyala antelopes and dozens of endemic and semi-endemic bird species. A three day excursion through an unexpected variety of landscapes and ecosystems, from the lush juniper forests and grasslands to barren sceneries on Africa’s highest plateau almost touching the clouds to evergreen and diverse rainforests in one of the remotest parts of the country.

You will finalize your tour in the warm climate shaded under huge trees at the lakeshore of Lake Langano. It is the perfect spot for a swim in beautiful scenery and to recap a wonderful journey before you head back home.

Overnights are spent in wisely selected and mainly beautifully located mid-range to high-range hotels and lodges.

Tour code: CU09

Operator: SimienEcoTours

Gallery

Itinerary & In/Exclusions

Day 1

Addis Ababa - the third highest capital in the world

Travel: 1 h, 30 km

After your arrival & immigration you will meet with your guide at the airport and you will be transferred to your hotel/lodge for some refreshment. Depending on your arrival time your guide will go on a city tour through Ethiopia’s vibrant and lively capital. In the National Museum you can discover the cradle of mankind where the skeleton of “Lucy” is kept. Entoto Mountain with its Eucalyptus forest is a nice short escape out of town to see Mariyam Church and Menelik Palace, the place where the Emperors resided. Others might enjoy one of the city’s weekly markets. You can choose your itinerary with your guide.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Zeist Lodge or similar (check-in after 12pm), Addis Ababa

Day 2

Flight to Arba Minch and onwards to the Konso villages

Flight time: 1 h

Travel: 2-3 h, 130 km

You will be transferred to your domestic flight to Arba Minch. The town is the hub for Southern Ethiopia and from here your journey moves on along Lake Chamo through fertile regions where most of the countries tropical fruits are grown to the Konso highlands where your cultural adventure can start. Kanta Lodge will be your get away to visit the people of the Konso tribe.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Kanta Lodge or similar, Karat Konso

Day 3

UNESCO World Heritage of the Konso

Travel: 3-4 h, 160 km

Today you have a full day to visit some of the non-touristic Konso villages in the surrounding highlands. Strolling around the fortressed villages your guide will explain a lot about Konso beliefs and cultures. Generation trees are erected on a central court in the village not only telling the history of the villages but also being used a sacrificial sites for the locals. The Konso are among only few peoples in Ethiopia that established permaculture as a means of getting more and better harvests in dry environments which makes them well off compared to other tribes in this region. These are just some of the interesting things to discover while visiting the Konso. A meeting with their friendly king (if available) will also give you another chance to learn more about the Konso before you will set off in the late afternoon to Arba Minch.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Haile Resort or similar, Arba Minch

Day 4

The weavers of the Dorze people

Travel: 3-4 h, 100 km

This morning you will have a sunrise breakfast overlooking Nechisar Nationalpark crammed between the two lakes Abaya and Chamo. Certainly, one of the best breakfast spots in Ethiopia! After breakfast a motor boat will sway you to crocodile beach on Lake Chamo to see the massive Nile crocodiles warming up in the morning sun. You will have good chances to see hippos and plenty of waterbirds as well.

Back in town for lunch before you head for your next cultural experience with the Dorze people that live up in the Chencha highlands. Your car brings you to meet the villagers and their homesteads. The false banana tree supplies them with their staple food kojo. How? You will learn about tis amazing technique. The Dorze are also skilful weavers that market their cotton shawls all over Ethiopia. Late afternoon return to Arba Minch to the lodge.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Haile Resort or similar, Arba Minch

Day 5

Drive to where the coffee grows

Travel: 5-6 h, 250 km

Another gorgeous breakfast overlooking nature awaits you this morning before you will start heading north where the huge Lake Abaya accompanies your journey for quite some hours before you reach the coffee forests of the Sidama region where some of the finest coffee beans grow. In the early evening you will get a chance to experience your first Ethiopian coffee ceremony watching, smelling and tasting while hyenas lace from the woods and their laughter echoes all over the place.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Aregash Lodge or similar, Yirga Alem

Day 6

Spend your day with the Sidama people

Hiking: 2-3 h, 6 km (difficulty: easy, altitude difference: ↑100m, ↓100m)

This morning you awake in your traditional bamboo-woven house (traditional Sidama houses) surrounded by the sounds of birds and hyenas. Early birds are welcome to go on a nature walk with the lodge guides to spot some black and white colobus monkeys in the tree tops. After breakfast, your guide will take you on a village tour on foot to the Sidama villages. A truly unique experience close to the locals and their culture on lush forest trails and through farmlands. Free afternoon at the beautiful lodge.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Aregash Lodge or similar, Yirga Alem

Day 7

The nature oasis of Bale Mountains National Park

Travel: 8-9 h; 350 km

You will enter the highland ecosystems today leaving the Great African Rift Valley behind for a couple of days. Bale Mountains National Park – one park, but many worlds are awaiting you and one of the most diverse landscapes in the world! The park hosts some of Ethiopia’s rarest endemic wildlife lives such as the Ethiopian wolves, the Mountain Nyala antelopes and dozens of endemic and semi-endemic bird species and also the home to fourteen of Ethiopia’s endemic birds.

In the following days the fine Bale Mountains Lodge will be your get away for several excursions to the evergreen tropical forests and the highest plateau in Africa that you will cross already while you are arriving to the lodge today. Do some game watching from the car and don’t worry because you will come back to the plateau in some days for a deep experience on foot.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Bale Mountain Lodge or similar, Rira

Day 8

The Harenna Forest and the remote coffee village of Manyete

Travel: 2-3 h; 80 km

Hiking: 2-3 h, 6 km (difficulty: easy/moderate, altitude difference: ↑150m, ↓150m)

After yesterday’s drive today’s schedule is rather easy. You have the opportunity to get some resting at your forest cottage at Bale Mountains Lodge. Your veranda is a beautiful place to spot wildlife or you go on one of the guided walks right from the lodge to trek the endemic Bale monkeys and to experience one of the countries last evergreen rain forests. 

An afternoon excursion to visit the coffee cooperative in the close-by village of Manyette is another option or your driver takes you on an late afternoon game drive to find the Black-maned lions that still live in the forests.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Bale Mountain Lodge or similar, Rira

Day 9

The 4,100 meters high afro-alpine Sanetti Plateau

Travel: 2-3 h; 80 km

Hiking: 2-3 h, 3-6 km (difficulty: easy/moderate, altitude difference: ↑150m, ↓150m)

Southern Bale is certainly a peaceful oasis that you might not want to leave this morning but your guide wants to share another Bale experience with you today. He takes you once more to the 4.100 m (13.400 ft.) high Sanetti-Plateau. Don’t worry, the highest all-weather road in Africa makes your arrival easy. But you should not miss the chance to get of the car and experience this barren, windy and cold scenery on foot. Hiking at this altitude and climate is not for everyone but so unique. Discuss with you guide what is capable for you and you will have a unique nature experience. The plateau is not only the habitat of the largest Ethiopian wolf population (aprox. 300 individuals) which got very rare and endangered almost all over Ethiopia but also for endemic birds such as Rouget’s Rail, Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose and the spot-breasted Plover as well as migratory populations of Wattled Cranes. Sanetti’s barren landscapes will stand in contrast to its vast birdlife and open landscapes with wide views give you almost everywhere great opportunities to spot animals. Augur Buzzards are the common birds of prey but commonly seen are also Steppe Eagles and Cape Eagle Owls.

After one of your tours best highland birding opportunities you will get rest in the Wabe Shebelle Hotel in a way lower altitude in the town of Goba. Certainly, not the best hotel during your trip but a charming atmosphere of the 80’s which makes it a pleasant stop to break your long journey to Lake Langano for today.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Wabe Shebelle Hotel or similar, Goba

Day 10

Drive into the Great African Rift Valley

Travel: 6-7 h; 250 km

On your today’s long drive to Lake Langano, you will have the chance to make stops at the northern outposts of Bale Mountains National Park for a last time. We undertake a walk in the old juniper forests searching in particular for roosting owls.The area is also rich in Bohor reedbucks and the endemic Mountain-Nyala-Antelopes and Menelik’s Bushbucks.

From here your journey steadily slopes downhill back into the Great African Rift Valley where you will reach Lake Langano in the afternoon.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Hara Langano Lodge or similar, Lake Langano

Day 11

Day trip into the savannah national parks of the Rift Valley

Travel:  2-3 h; 100 km

With the first sunlight you will have the chance to go on a nature walk (1.5 hrs.) along the lake shore and into the groundwater forest. Walk under giant fig trees and spot birds.

Return for breakfast in the lodge garden and set off for a half day excursion to the picturesque Abijata-Shalla National Park with its three lakes and a resident population of the thousands of Lesser and Greater Flamingos. A rather more impressive savannah landscape is the Swayne’s Hartebeest Sanctuary which can be visited in another half day. Famous for its endemic population of about 300 Swayne’s hartebeest antelopes it is the only sanctuary over the country where this game still survives.

Discuss with your guide the night before if you prefer a full day game day or just half day and some relaxing at the only lake in Ethiopia that is suitable for swimming.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Hara Langano Lodge or similar, Lake Langano

Day 12

UNESCO Site Tiya - a medieval graveyard

Travel: 6-7 h; 260 km

Your last day takes you back to the capital but along the way there lies some lush green highlands where the Gurage people live. Their homesteads are well kept and inviting and your guide is happy to make stops along the way. In the Gurage region lies also one of Ethiopia’s mysterious UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The steale field of Tiya is almost a must although archaeologists quarrel about the cultures that buried their dead people there. Definitely, a controversial stop before you return to the capital. After a nice traditional farewell dinner your driver will transfer you to the airport.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: ---

Included

Our services include:
  • all (1) domestic flights in Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa-Arba Minch), Note: If the international flight is with a carrier other than Ethiopian Airlines, there will be a supplement of US$ 80 for the domestic flights;
  • all accommodations in double rooms with private toilet/shower in hotels or lodges (6x high-range, 4x mid-range, 1 low-range);
  • all transfers and travels in Ethiopia with private car (minivan & 4x4);
  • full board (1 drink per meal included, alcoholic drinks excluded);
  • boat cruise on Lake Chamo;
  • nature walk at Lake Langano;
  • all entrance fees and permissions at tourist attractions, churches, museums and national parks;
  • all persons for safety and security (when prescribed);
  • all tips for meals;
  • all (mandatory) local guides in the single destinations;
  • all taxes and administrative fees;
  • 24/7 emergency assistance;
  • experienced SimienEcoTours Tour Guide (fluently English & Amharic speaking), other language guide on request with surcharge.

Excluded

Our services do not include:
  • international flights;
  • travel insurance;
  • visa for Ethiopia (currently US$ 52);
  • alcoholic beverages;
  • tips;
  • photo and video fees (if applicable);
  • all extras and personal expenses.