15 Days Southern Explorer: Harar, Bale Mountains & the Omo Valley

This is an extraordinary opportunity to travel through Southern Ethiopia, starting in the old walled city of Harar, before travelling overland to the Bale Mountains through Awash National Park, where the scenery and birdlife is second to none! Moving on from the Bale Mountains, there will be chance to meet some of the more remote ethnic groups of the fascinatingly diverse areas of the Omo Valley in South West Ethiopia. Whilst in this fascinating region we will learn about the varied ethnic groups who inhabit the region - from the Mursi, renowned for their lip-plates, the Konso famous for their terraced farming to the Hamer famous for their bull jumping coming of age ceremony. This is a unique itinerary in an unforgettable part of the world - it will surely be a journey to challenge the senses.

Day 1: Tour starts in Addis Ababa:

Meeting at our hotel this morning, there will be time to rest before having lunch and an orientation tour around Ethiopia’s bustling capital, including the Trinity Cathedral and the Mercato, the biggest open-air market in Africa. We’ll have an early dinner at an excellent local restaurant tasting traditional food and atmosphere.

Day 2: Addis Ababa – Harar

This morning we will be collected from our hotel and taken back to the airport, from where we will fly to Dire Dawa. In Dire Dawa before leaving town we will visit the historic train station. After which we will be driven on to Harar, where the prime attraction is the walled city. Known locally as Jugal, the old town is enclosed by a 5m-high wall that effectively defined the whole of Harar until the Italian occupation. On our tour we will see mosques, churches, the house of the French poet Rimbaud, the Adere people’s traditional houses, the markets, basket productions and much more. In the evening we will also visit a man who continues an age-old tradition of feeding wild hyenas on the outside of the city wall – a spectacle not to be missed!

Day 3: Harar and Valley of Marvels

In the morning, we will have another wander through the old town as the city comes to life before heading to the nearby Valley of Marvels, a desolate landscape of red earth, low acacia scrub, forbidding cacti and tall chimney-like termite mounds and gravity-defying rock formations. We will return to Harar in the late afternoon.

Day 4: Harar - Awash National Park

Today we will drive to Awash and although a full day in the vehicles, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop and see the countryside we are driving through. We will visit the famous local qat market in the village of Awedae before heading into Awash National Park. This park is one of eastern Ethiopia’s main attractions and we plan to have a late afternoon game drive. Although over 80 mammal species have been recorded in the Park – the majority being bats, rodents and small predators – the game viewing is arguably less of an attraction than the scenery and birdlife. The Park is regarded as one of Ethiopia’s premier birding destinations, with over 450 species. The park also has a magnificent 150m-deep gorge, carved by the Awash River and its substantial waterfall.

Day 5: Awash - Sheikh Hussein

: Today we will leave the asphalt road and take a little used gravel road to Sheikh Hussein. We will have a full day drive through stunning countryside and crossing the beautiful Wabe Shebelle Valley.

Day 6: Sheikh Hussein – Goba

According to many Ethiopian Muslims, the 13th century tomb of Sheikh Hussein is one of the most sacred places in the country. Sheikh Hussein is believed to be the one who introduced Islam to the region and is said to have performed many miracles. We’ll visit his tomb with its whitewashed walls inscribed with Arabic sentences from the Quran and afterwards head to Bale Goba, visiting the beautiful Sof Omar caves on the way. The Sof Omar caves are a vast network of limestone caverns, reputedly the largest in Africa. These caves have been carved by the Webb River which descends from the Bale Mountains to the flat arid plains that stretch towards the Somali boarder. The caves are named after Sheikh Sof Omar, a 12th century Muslim leader who used them as refuge, and they remain an important site of pilgrimage for Ethiopian Muslims.

Day 7: Goba - Bale National Park

Today we head to the Bale National Park which protects the higher reaches of the Bale range, including Mount Tullo Dimtu, which at 4,377m is the second-highest peak in Ethiopia. One of the main attractions of the park is its wild alpine scenery, particularly on the 4,000m high Sanetti Plateau, where there will be time to explore on foot and with luck spot the endemic Ethiopian Wolf, before heading across the Sanetti plateau, reportedly the highest all-weather road in Africa, to our well-deserved .

Day 8: Bale National Park – Awassa

This morning, heading out of the Bale National Park, we’ll stop at Dinsho, the park’s headquarters, from where we can take a walk to explore the local woodland and try to spot the endemic Mountain Nyala and Menekil’s Bushbuck. There may also be a chance to see animals such as warthogs and baboons too. We will then proceed to Awassa in the Great African Rift Valley.

Day 9: Awassa – Konso

After visiting the daily fish market in Awassa, we head out of town towards Konso taking a little used gravel road and in so doing cross to the west side of the Rift Valley arriving in Konso in the late afternoon. Kanta Lodge or similar (B,L,D)

Day 10: Konso – Turmi

The Konso are hardworking agriculturalists, who farm on ancient terraced lands. We will explore their villages on foot allowing us to observe their customs and lifestyles. After visiting the Konso villages we head deeper into the Omo valley to Turmi where the Hamer live. The most important event in the Hamer society is the bull jumping ceremony, which with some luck, we will attend. On the way, we will stop to visit the Erbore villages, who have ancestral and cultural links to the Konso and the pastoralists of the surrounding lowlands, the Erbore traditionally played an important role as middlemen in trade between the Omo River and the Konso Highlands.

Day 11: Turmi - Omorate - Karo – Turmi

A full day today sees us first drive out to the village of Omorate, which lies on Eastern bank of the Omo River. Here, we plan to meet the Dassanech, a tribe with whom Bruce Parry spent several weeks for as part of the BBC “Tribe” series. From here, we will drive to the town of Dimeka to visit the Tuesday Hamer market. Markets in the Omo region are excellent places to meet and interact with the local people. After lunch we will proceed to the Karo village of Korcho, beautifully positioned overlooking the Omo River. The Karo are known for their elaborate body painting before important ceremonies. After our visit, we will return to Turmi.

Day 12: Turmi - Mursi – Jinka

Today we’ll head towards Mago National Park in whose lands reside the Mursi, perhaps the most famous of all the peoples of Southern Ethiopia. The Mursi, are known for their distinctive “lip plates” which can reach diameters of up to 6”. After spending some time meeting with the Mursi, we’ll head for the nearby town of Jinka.

Day 13: Jinka - Arba Minch

Today we first visit the village of Key Afer, renowned for its Thursday Market. Here we can expect to meet mainly people from the Benna and Tsemai ethnic groups. Later we will proceed towards Arba Minch, where we’ll take a boat trip on Lake Chamo, part of Nechisar National Park, hoping to spot some of its famed wildlife, mainly hippos, crocodiles and prolific birdlife.

Day 14: Arba Minch – Lake Langano

This morning we’ll head up to the village of Chencha to the Dorze tribes. Speaking an Omotic language and settled in the hills above the lakes, the Dorze people are renowned for their beehive-like house architecture and weaving techniques. In the afternoon, we’ll make our way to Lake Langano, right in the heart of the Rift Valley and a great place for a swim or for a spot of bird-watching.

Day 15: Lake Langano – Addis Ababa

With a final morning to enjoy the natural delights of Southern Ethiopia we’ll make our way reluctantly back to the capital where our tour ends.


15 Days / 14 Nights

Price Includes:

  • 4WD land cruisers
  • all fuel expenses and drivers allowances
  • Accommodation and all meals throughout the tour
  • All needed Entrance fees and licenses
  • Scout and ranger
  • plenty bottles of water
  • camel and camel handler
  • Local guide service for the Afar region
  • Experienced cook with cooking material and camping equipment


Price Exclude:

  • Alcohol and tips

Browse Tours By Category

  • City Tour
  • Excursion tour
  • Cultural Tour
  • Historic Tour
  • Holiday and Festivals
  • Bird Watching Tour
  • Nature and Wildlife tour
  • Photography and Filming

Contact Information

Please feel free to reach us using the following address. We are happy and glad to answer all your questions.
Phone: +251 946 460 146, Email: tour@danakildepression.org, mickeymitiku@gmail.com 
Gondar, Ethiopia P. O. Box 1021