19 Days in Ethiopia
The Abyssinian Adventure Tour
This Photo Tour has only three places left available!
Photo Tour led by Roger Moo
Ethiopia - now there’s a place to visit! A paradise for photography, with incredibly diverse regions rich in culture and history, many ethnic groups and tribes of truly beautiful and handsome people exalted by their colorful dress and costumes, and a world of wildlife just on your doorstep. For Roger his first trip to Ethiopia some years ago was a true eye-opener, one he now shares with others as he returns each year to record the true magic of a magnificent place and people in this 19 day tour of both northern and southern Ethiopia.
This photo tour falls naturally into two parts: Northern Ethiopia and Southern Ethiopia. Nineteen days is a long time - and it is needed to cover both regions without rushing. So there is an option for people, which is to do both, or just the northern part, or just the southern. I would obviously suggest to do the full trip, as this might be the only time in your life you travel to Ethiopia, so make the most of it.
The trip to the north takes us to see live volcanoes, historic heritage sites, ancient cities and even more ancient customs. The trip to the south takes us into Nilotic tribal lands, where the people are incredibly beautiful, wonderfully dressed and adorned with fabrics of many colors. Here we witness the ceremonial bull jumping wedding ritual, women with lip plates, fishermen who hunt crocodiles in the Omo River, wildlife extraordinary and the rhythm of life.
We drive in SUVs, with room for four, including the local driver. Most of the time we stay in chalets/lodges. You can eat local, western and vegetarian food as you like; you will find it all very much to your taste. What is limited, given where we travel, is fast and/or reliable Wifi. So sometimes you will have to wait a day or so before publishing photos on social media, touching base with family etc.
On this tour you get much opportunity to practice several photographic techniques: composition, street photography, unusual angles, portraits, film/shutter/aperture combinations, depth of field, using light and many others. Photo skills can be shared "as-you-go" and also at the end of the day so you get the best from these opportunities. Almost every day we will start the trip after breakfast (unless by special request and of course you can always get up earlier to shoot the sky’s beautiful orange blue color at dawn), then ending up after sunset time for the golden and blue hours. Throughout the whole day you will also have something to see and enjoy, always with photography in mind.
Day 0 • Arrival in Addis Ababa
Everyone will come from everywhere, and getting to Addis Ababa is itself a challenge. On arrival our guide will take you to the assigned hotel to rest and recover. Once everyone has arrived we will get together over dinner for a briefing, questions & answers and trip assignments..
Day 1 • Addis Ababa and Harar
After breakfast an early morning departure through the northern end of the east African Great Rift Valley, we drive up the Chercher mountains, where the Oromo tribe live, growing coffee and khat. Later in the afternoon we head to the holy walled Islamic city of Harar, where non-muslims were historically not permitted to enter, until British explorer Sir Richard Burton, disguised as an Arab merchant, made it in 1854 to study Arab philosophy, after which he wrote his famous book "The First Footstep in the Horn of Africa, The Mighty People". After checking in to our hotel we take a short drive outside the walls of this fabled city, where we encounter strange friends: wild spotted hyenas who eat the food provided them by a muslim holy man every day. Then we too return to the hotel to satisfy our own ravenous appetites and enjoy a well earned rest.
Day 2 • Harar to Awash
We only spend one night in Harar, so in the morning we can wander inside the city, photographing this colourful people around market and its many mosques. After that we kick off towards Aweday, a small town along the way, where local farmers bring in their fresh khat leaves, the best in all the country and ever further to Djibouti and Salia. Khat is the second most important cash crop after coffee in all the country. Travelling through several small towns with colorful markets we head to Awash, where we spend the night.
Day 3 • Awash to Semera
We drive north east from Awash through the vast plains of the Afar tribal territory to Semera, the capital of Afar State, where we stay overnight in a good hotel. On the way we visit a desert town in the middle of recent volcanic phenomena and detour to Ali Deghe Wild life reserve. Here we can spot the Gravey zebra, which are the largest species of zebra, the Somali Ostrich, the Sammering Gazelle, gerenuk (giraffe gazelle), which are the tallest of gazelle family, black and golden jackals, the Kori bustard, which is the heaviest flying bird and the Arabian bustard, a slightly smaller and more rare sub-species, Sand grouses and much, much more.
Day 4 • Semera and Erta Ale
The morning gets eaten up with making our all-important paper declarations to the Semera Tourism Office. That done, we travel to Lake Afdera, which lies below sea level, is fed by more than 300 underground sources, and contains the lowest lying island on Earth. Not surprisingly the lake supplies much of the Ethiopia's salt. After this we head further to to our last destination of the day, the famous active volcano of Erta Ale, "the Smoking Mountain”, that contains one of only six lava lakes in the world. At Erta Ale we will meet the chief of a local Afar tribe; he will give us camels and assign his people to carry our stuff. We will also take four Ethiopian soldiers to be with us to the top of the crater, walking over the fresh caldera for about 3 hours and spending the night close to the volcano's rim!!
Day 5 • Erta Ale to Amedela
Early morning light finds us wandering around the crater to capture some great photos. After dawn at the summit we descend to our base camp for breakfast and pack up to head off to Dalol "the land of different colors" and the lowest place in the whole of Africa. Here we get to drive over salt beds before driving on to Amedela, where we spend the night in a camp.
Day 6 • Amedela, Dalol and Mekele
We cruise over crests of thick-rimmed salt to Dalol and Lake Asale sunken in its great depression, where we encounter caravans with their thousands of chained camels transporting slabs of salt to the nearest town, which is several hundred kilometres away! The imagery is stunning, with its wild, whitened formations, the nomadic tribe of dark skinned salt miners, the fustian of the camels and the dark red of leather and cloth, all set against the bright blue sky. From this wonder we travel to Mekele, where we spend the night.
Day 7 • Mekele to Lalibela
We head out of Mekele early to reach Lalibela, famously known as "Black Jerusalem”. This trip also gives us the opportunity of seeing the many small villages that dot the rolling hills of Ethiopia's northern highlands, as well as taking a peek into the lifestyle of the local people. We stay overnight in Lalibela.
Day 8 • Lalibela
You will have seen the images of Lalibela in documentaries on TV, for there are the rock hewn churches cut deep into the ground. Here too it is said the Ark of the Covenant was borne, many millennia ago. Lalibela is one of UNESCO's Wonders of the World, and justifiably so too. We stay in Lalibela a second night.
Day 9 • From Lalibela to Konbolcha
This is a trekking day, with a long drive to Kobolcha by way of Weldeya. We will stop frequently to enjoy the views over countryside that lies around the Lasta mountains. We spend the night in Konbolcha.
Day 10 • Konbolcha to Weliso
Today we head to Central Ethiopia for the second part of the tour, which is in west and south west of Ethiopia. We pass through Addis Ababa but do not tarry there other than to drop off anyone who has decided to stop the tour here and pick up others who may join us for the second section. We finish the day in Weliso, where we overnight in a very comfortable lodge.
Day 11 • Weliso to Mizan
This is a day's travel through some incredibly rich farming land, home to coffee plantations such as the renowned Keffa (remember coffee started in Ethiopia and was brought into Arabia by the traders of the Red Sea, including the Prophet's family based in Mecca, once called Mocca). We go west by way of Jimma, to drop down into the Gibe/Omo river gorge, an ever-green, fertile valley. Settled and semi-nomadic pastoral tribes are everywhere, as are their colorful market in places such as Gurage and Oromo. The whole day is full of photographic opportunities, to finally arrive in Mizan, where we stay the night.
Day 12 • Mizan to Surma
First thing after breakfast we go to the local tourism office to present our papers and get our passes. Once done we drive to the wild coffee forest called Bebeka, where it is said the coffee plant was first discovered. Later in the morning we travel on to the land of the Suri "The land of the yellow gun", where an isolated group of exotic Nilotic gorgous people called the Surma live. These people are considered one of the most decorated and beautifully exotic tribes in the world. So remote are their settlements that they think anything beyond their territory is out of the Universe! Here we will stay two nights in a very comfortable camp site.
Day 13 • With the Surma
This day we explore the Suri lands, villages, cattle camps and of course take the opportunity of photographing this incredibly beautiful and handsome people.
Day 14 • Surma to Turmi
We set off along an isolated, off any form of beaten track back towards the Omo/Gibe valley. We cross the Omo River to Turmi and the lands of the Hamer people. We stay in Turmi for two nights in a very comfortable lodge.
Day 15 • A trip to Dasenech
From Turmi we drive south to the very northern tip of Lake Turkhana, quite close to the Kenyan border near Lake Turkana. Here we visit the Kushite crocodile hunters of Dasenech, mostly Amhara and Hamer tribes, who live by the banks of the Omo River. If the day of our visit day is a Saturday we will drive to Dimeka and encounter the beautiful people of the Hamer tribe in their local market. We might even have a good chance of catching one of their famous bull jumping initiations in the afternoon.
Day 16 • Turmi to Arba Minch
We leave the southern lands of Ethiopia to head back north, in the morning crossing the Weyto Valley. This is the country of the Tseamy tribe and the highlander Konso tribe, who are famous for their terraced landscapes, which are recognized as a world heritage site. After lunch in Konso, we travel to Lake Chamo, where we sail over the lake to spot some of the biggest Nile crocodiles and hippopotami that exist - and thousands of brightly colored aquatic birds. We rest up in another delightful lodge, this time in Arba Minch.
Day 17 • Arba Minch to Awasa
This is incredibly rich, fertile and beautiful country. As we go along we pass several small market towns and villages of the Dorze, Welaita, Alaba and Oromo tribes. We end up at the beautiful lake of Awasa and the lakeside resort owned by Ethiopia's world champion long distance runner, which has to be the best resort in Ethiopia.
Day 18 • Awasa to Addis Abeba
After breakfast we take a short drive to a fish market located by the shores of Lake Awasa. Here we can mix in with the local people as they busy about their activities. Also we may come across several marine birds as they plod along the bank. We kick off to Lake Ziway, where we stop for lunch and bird spotting around the lakeshore. After that it is a three hour drive back to Addis Ababa, where we finish our circuit of the south. After freshening up at the hotel we will go out for a traditional Ethiopian dinner in a really god restaurant.
Day 19 • Addis Ababa
End of Tour. We wrap up everything, have a celebratory and relaxing morning before the bus takes us to Addis Ababa's international airport for our flights home or on to other adventures.
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Bookings are made directly with the photographer. For more details please contact Roger Moo by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fees are exclusive of your own travel to and from Addis Abeba.
- Fees do not cover international travel and medical insurance.
- 50% to be paid on confirmed booking.
- Balance of 50% paid at least 45 days before the tour start date.
- By bank wire transfer.
- 100% refund if made 30+ days before the tour start date.
- 50% refund if made 15+ days before the tour start date.
- 25% refund if made 7+ days before the tour start date.
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Coming from the magnificent country of Malaysia, Roger is very familiar with seeing beauty all around him, in nature, in culture, in peoples and in life itself. Having successfully finished a career most of us follow, he turned to photography to capture the essence of that beauty, which has since led him to find it in other countries around the world. His passion now is to share such opportunities with others, so he specializes in tours to more distant and exotic places. Discover his tours here.