The Ethiopia Essentials Tour – Southern Ethiopia, 8 Days


Southern Ethiopia tourTour of Southern Ethiopia – 8 days, 7 nights

(An Ethiopia Essentials Tour)


Why choose this tour?

When your time is really limited but you want to visit the tribal cultures of Southern Ethiopia and experience a way of life that few Westerners have witnessed first hand then this is the tour for you.

Ethiopia can be thought of as two separate countries – the South, where the emphasis is on visiting various tribal cultures, and the people who are still living as they did hundreds of years ago, and the North where there are plenty of historical and religious sites.

Of course, both parts of Ethiopia can be combined into one Grand North & South tour by making use of short, inexpensive domestic flights to cover a lot of territory.

The tour itinerary outlined below is exclusively for the South. 

Highlights of this tour:

  • Witness a ‘Evangadi’ dance and/or ‘Bull jump’ ceremony (if it coincides with your stay)
  • Visit two different regional markets
  • Meet people from five different ethnic groups from the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR)

This area is probably as close to “the back of beyond” that most people will ever get to see. In order to do so you will have to put up with some traveling on rough roads.

You will be going through much of Ethiopia’s famed Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). The SNNPR is home to 45 ethnic groups. Traveling in this area can only be done by 4WD car since it is Ethiopia’s most rural region. 

And while some accommodations can best be described as less than luxurious, you will always have an individual room and a private bathroom.

Please note that some of the hotels or lodges listed below have limited space with no more than 12-14 rooms.

We will make every effort to book you into those hotels but this means booking far enough in advance to make this possible. If not, there is usually a good second choice of lodging.

However, like most people who travel to the South of Ethiopia, we felt that these minor discomforts are worth the rewards of the visit.


Click to enlarge the map


Itinerary Highlights of the Southern Essentials Tour

Day 1, Addis Ababa: Arrive in Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia, acclimate, relax and do some sightseeing (overnight in Addis Ababa)

Day 2, Arba Minch: Flight to Arba Minch. Visit Dorze people and local marketplace in Chencha.

Day 3, Turmi: Drive (5.5 hrs) Arba Minch to Turmi, en route visit Konso and Arbore people. Optional ‘Evangadi’ dance and/ or ‘Bull jump’ ceremony if it coincides with your stay in Turmi.

Day 4, Turmi: Morning visit Karo people in Kolcho. Afternoon visit market in Turmi and Hamar people.

Day 5, Jinka: Visit Dassanech people in Omerate. Drive (2.5 hrs) to Jinka. Market day in Dimeka and Alduba.

Day 6, Jinka: Morning visit Mago National Park and Mursi people. Afternoon visit Ari people.

Day 7, Arba Minch: Visit Jinka museum. Drive (4.5 hrs) to Arba Minch, en route visit Key Afar market. Boat trip on Lake Chamo, Nech Sar National Park.

Day 8, Flight Day: Flight from Arba Minch to Addis Ababa. Minibus available for transport around Addis Ababa. Transport to Bole International Airport for international flight home. End of tour.


Tour Prices

All tour prices for the above itinerary are in US Dollars and based on 1/ 2/ 3/ 4 persons traveling together:

1 person $3895
2 people $2695 per person
3 people $2395 per person
4 people $2195 per person
5 or more people – please call or write for our best prices.

Included in the tour price:

  • Airport transfers  by private vehicle.
  • Road transport by 4WD with English speaking driver/guide, including fuel, driver allowances and accommodation
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing. One single room included for uneven number of travelers.
  • Meal plan bed and breakfast unless otherwise noted.
  • Fees for entrances and local guides for activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • All government taxes for the services included in the tour price.

Not included in the tour price:

  • International flights and visa fees.
  • Domestic flights are not included. Lower rates are available if Ethiopian Airlines is used for international flight. Fares subject to change by airline.
  • The current cost for all flights in this itinerary is $140 per person if at least 1 segment of your international flight is on Ethiopian Airlines. If not, the total cost is $300. These fares are subject to change.
  • Lunches and dinners, unless stated as included above.
  • Activities not mentioned or stated as optional in the itinerary.
  • Fees for photos and video.
  • Other personal expenses, souvenirs, tips and gratuities, etc


Detailed Itinerary of the Southern Essentials Tour

This tour starts and ends in Addis Ababa. Besides 2 domestic flights you will travel overland using a well maintained 4WD car with a reliable driver/guide.

This tour is primarily designed for people who want to spend a certain amount of time exploring and experiencing as much of the Omo Valley and its people as possible.

You will be able to view some extraordinary national parklands and interact with the fascinating  people of fascinating part of Ethiopia: the Omo Valley in Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). To see the daily itinerary, scroll down:


Day 1, Addis Ababa:


You will be met at the airport by one of our drivers and taken to your hotel, the Capital Hotel and Spa, which is not far away.


Addis Ababa – View from Entoto Hills

 You may be tired after a long international flight and just decide to rest up. If not, your guide will take you on a city tour of Addis Ababa.


In the evening you can enjoy a nice buffet dinner at the Habeisha Cultural Restaurant. The restaurant also features some very good live entertainment by local singers and dancers.  Overnight at Capital Hotel and Spa.  

Day 2, Arba Minch:

In the morning you will go back to Bole Airport for a 1-hour flight down to Arba Minch (40 Springs) in the South.

All domestic flights are on Ethiopian Airlines and generally work well. The airline has a fleet of Bombardier Q300 turboprops (50-56 seats), which are used most of the time. Flights are often quite scenic.


Upon arrival in Arba Minch you will be driven to the beautiful Haile Resort.

The Haile chain of hotels was started by the famous Ethiopian long-distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie and there are now several of these hotels in various parts of Ethiopia.

The Haile Resort should now be considered the top hotel in Arba Minch, replacing the former top choice, the Paradise Lodge.

In the afternoon there will be a trip to the first of several tribal villages you will be visiting.

This is the Dorze tribe, who live in beehive-like houses and are known for their crafts, especially weaving.

If you are here on a Tuesday or Saturday there will be an opportunity to visit the colorful market in nearby Chencha.

If not, no need to be disappointed. There will be other chances to visit a market along the rest of the tour itinerary.

Day 3, Turmi: 

Today will be taken up by some driving, much of it over unpaved roads. Your vehicle is a Toyota land cruiser, is built to withstand rough roads and makes driving over them as comfortable as possible.

On the road in southern Ethiopia – Weito to Turmi

Upon arrival in Turmi, you will be making visits to two tribal groups, the Konso and the Arbore peoples.

Konso – View at Kamule village

The “Konso Cultural Landscape” was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011, the most recent of the 9 sites within Ethiopia. 

According to UNESCO, “It constitutes a spectacular example of a living cultural tradition stretching back 21 generations (more than 400 years) adapted to its dry hostile environment.”

Konso – Waga stelae

The village is also noted for its Waga ancestor carvings.

Arbore – Village

Next there will be a stop to visit a Arbore village.

Each of the villages and ethic cultures you will find in the South is a different experience. Unique beadwork necklaces and women with shaved heads are two of the main distinguishing features of the Arbore people

You will be spending the next two nights at the Buska Lodge. This is not a luxury safari lodge but is clean and the best available accommodation in the area.

Day 4, Turmi: 

In the morning, you will take a trip to visit the Karo people. Later in the afternoon, you’ll visit the local market in Turmi and then go on to visit the Hamar people.

The Karo People

As we mentioned, each tribal group in southern Ethiopia, while relatively geographically cloose has their own unique culture. The Karo people are known for painting their bodies.

Karo – Young boy with painted body

By decorating the face and body, with ochre and white chalk the Karo people believe it boosts their sex appeal and scares off enemies. 

The Hamar people

When visiting the Hamar people, we hope you can witness an Evangadi dance and a bull-jumping ceremony.

The bull jumping is an all-day right-of-passage affair that includes dancing and other tribal rituals. It is extremely interesting to witness, if you are fortunate enough to be there at the right time.

Please note that seeing these rituals can not be guaranteed because these ceremonies are not put on just for tourists but are traditional rites done solely for their community. 

Also be aware that the Hamar people practice a form of scarification. The more scars a woman has the more attractive, strong and loyal she is thought to be.

Overnight back at the Buska Lodge.

Day 5, Jinka: 

The first activity of the day is to drive south on a good paved road, down near the border with Kenya, for a visit to the Dassenach people in Omerate.

Dassanech – Crossing the Omo River by local dug-out canoe

This will necessitate a short crossing of the Omo River in a dugout canoe.

The Dassanech women work incredibly hard on their attire. Most of their beads come from trading with other tribes from Kenya and they use found materials such as wire, brass, fur, plastic & shells to create their unique designs.

Then you will drive around 2 1/2 hours to the town of Jinka. On the way there may be stops for market day in Dimeka or Alduba, again depending on what day you happen to be there.

Overnight will be at the Eco Omo Lodge. Again, this is not a luxury lodge by any means, but it is the best place available and you will have individual accommodations and a private bathroom.

Day 6, Jinka: 

After breakfast, you will drive around 1 1/4 hours into the Mago National Park for a visit to the Mursi people.

Mursi – Woman wearing lip-plate

It is possible that you have seen photos of Mursi women, the best known of all the local tribes,who start wearing clay lip plates when they are teenagers.

In the afternoon there will be time for a visit to the Ari people, who are known for their pottery, their brightly painted buildings and colorful style of dress. 

Overnight again at the Eco Omo Lodge.

Day 7, Arba Minch: 

Before setting out on the drive back to Arba Minch there will be a visit to the small but interesting Jinka Museum, which houses several good exhibits of artifacts and crafts from the local tribal people.

On the way you can stop to see the large local Key Afar market.

Upon arrival in Arba Minch, you will check back into the Haile Resort.

Day 8, Flight Day:

In the morning, after breakfast, you will enjoy a refreshing boat trip on Lake Chamo, where you will have a chance to see hippos, crocodiles and a variety of water birds.

Nech Sar Natl Park – Boat trip Lake Chamo

Then in the afternoon it will be time to fly back to Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa – View from Entoto Hills

Upon returning to Addis Ababa you will have the use of a hotel room until it is time for your flight to depart, either the same night or the next morning. You will be transported to the Bole International Airport for your flight home. End of tour.


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