From 8th to 22nd Sept 2013, we’ll be going on yet another unique and exotic PhotoSafari…… to ETHIOPIA. If you wanna join us, please PM or email me ([email protected]) as quickly as possible. We’ve arranged for 4 units of 4×4 all Terrain vehicles complete with drivers in Addis Ababa. Each Landcruiser/Nissan Frontier will take only 3 participants and a local driver, which means there will be only 12 participants including me and Maxby. 9 people have shown firm interest so unless they pull out when I ask for deposits, only 3 places are left. If you procrastinate, you’re gonna miss a trip you’ll never be able to arrange on your own..
Ethiopia is the mysterious hidden jewel of Africa. The last time I was there, was in 2011. And I assure you its safe, its beautiful and its still totally unspoilt by tourists. People who don’t know Africa will assume Ethiopia is unsafe. In fact, the unsafe areas are Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti, on the Red Sea Coast, and at the Gulf of Aden, zillions of miles away from where we are going. We will drive deep into the great Rift Valley in southern Ethiopia to visit, shoot and stay in 4 star Lodges near the villages of very friendly natives…. the Mursis, known for their strange practice of putting large plates in their lips, the Bena shepherds who walk around on stilts, the Hamers and their bull jumping customs, the Ebores, Omos, Konsos, Desenechs, etc. etc.
Day 1. Sun 8 Sep 2013. ADDIS – Lake AWASA
After breakfast, we will drive to Hawassa, traversing the rift valley agro climatic zone. Today, we’re driving about 300 km and looking out for migrating bird life in the Central Rift Valley. Along the way we will stop to shoot local villages, landscapes and places of photographic interest.
Overnight at Lake Awasa. Tadese Enjory Hotel, Hawassa, Ethiopia
Location 7° 3’2.09″N, 38°28’8.85″E (+251 462200101)
Day 2 .Mon 9 Sep. AWASA-ARBA MINCH
Today we will drive south west, passing different landscapes and tribes. The Labas, Welaytas and Gomos are agro pastoralist tribes living in the fertile zone of the rift valley escarpments. Lunch will be in Arbaminch. Along the way we will see the Nile Crocodiles of Lake Chamo (the biggest croc is 7 meters) and also shoot groups of River hippos. There will be large numbers of Aquatic birds (Great white pelicans, Goliath herons, African darters, great Cormorants etc.) and also Zebras. On the east of Arbaminch lie the twin lakes of Abaya and Chamo. These twin lakes are parts of the Nech Sar National Park and they are rich in fauna & flora. Fish thrive in Lake Chamo, so there will be plenty of cormorants, and crocodiles, breeding in safety on volcanic islands dotting Chamo’s surface. Traditional way of life of the Gamo and Oromo tribes in the thick acacia woodlands surroundings, make this place special for photographers.
Over night at Paradis Lodge Arba minch. (+251116612191)
Day 3. Tue 10 Sep – ARBA MINCH-JINKA
Drive down to the Omo valley – the Little Africa, where we will shoot photos of native tribes living in this fertile valley. The Konsos are one of the biggest tribes in the valley numbering 300,000. The Konso region is full of rugged land which is predominantly composed of many hills. Through time the people here have devised their own mechanism of retaining their fertile soil by developing complex and yet entirely their own, terracing systems. Extensive and intricate, this system preserves the fertility of the friable top soil and prevent them from being washed down in to the valleys below. The people are so hard working that one can hardly see an un-terraced hill. They grow sorghum, wheat, barley, maize, peas, beans, bananas, cotton, tobacco, coffee and root plants The Konso landscape is one of the 9 UNESCO world Heritage sites in Ethiopia. The natives have old walled or fortified villages. The Konso are the only remaining stone tool-using tribe, where women predominantly make and use stone tools. The Tsemays are another Cushitic group living here. They number about 15000 inhabitants. And the Bennas are Omotic tribes ancestrally native to the Omo valley, along the Omo river. Overnight in Jinka at Orit hotel or Jinka Eco lodge,(+251.118 61 20 40), located just outside the town and bordering the Neri River on the way to Mago National Park. The lodge has 20 Safari tent rooms with en suite bathrooms. All beds have large mosquito nets.
Day 4. Wed. JINKA-MURSI-JINKA
Early morning, set off to the Mago National park. We will drive down to the plains land between the Neri and Mago River. We will go off-road in the park to shoot Cape Buffalos, African Elephants, Lesser Kudus, Orbis, Dikdiks etc. We will spend a full day exploring the park. After the early game drive in the park, we drive to the buffer zone of the Park and meet the Mursis (nilotic tribe famous for the lip plate of women and Donga stick fighting for men). We’ll shoot the Mursis in their villages and spend some time making friends with them in their villages. Might be good to bring printers so we can give them photos on the spot. We will then drive back to Jinka for over night stay (or if there is consensus, we can spend the night camping for some more exploration in the Safari park along the Neri river). Overnight Jinka at Orit hotel or Jinka Eco lodge +251.118 61 20 40)
Day 5. Thu. JINKA – KEY AFAR – TURMI
Today we will be busy meeting 3 tribes coming to the Key Afar Market (Thursday market 5°31’25.95″N, 36°44’8.31″E) which bring the surrounding tribes together. The Tsemay, Ari and Benna men and women come to the Key Afar Market to exchange their products (domestic animals, honey, tobacco, animal products, etc). It’s going to be a colourful day. Return to Turmi for overnight at Orit Hotel or Eco Lodge Turmi.
Day 6. Fri. TURMI-DASENECH-TURMI
This morning we drive towards the Kenyan border, near Lake Turkana, the largest permanent alkaline desert lake in Africa. We’ll take a canoe boat to cross the Omo river to the other side and visit the Dasenech tribe who are crocodile hunters. The Dasenech live where the Omo River delta enters Lake Turkana – their name means ‘People of the Delta’. Despite the lake and delta, this is an incredibly dry region: there is nothing but desert to the west and southwest, and daytime temperatures hover round 35 degrees centigrade, The Daasanach are agropastoral people; they grow sorghum, maize, pumpkins and beans when the Omo river and its delta floods. Otherwise the Daasanach rely on their goats and cattle which give them milk, and are slaughtered in the dry season for meat and hides. Sorghum is cooked with water into a porridge and eaten with a stew. Corn is usually roasted, and sorghum is fermented into beer. The Daasanach who herd cattle live in dome-shaped houses made from a frame of branches, covered with hides and woven boxes (which are used to carry possessions on donkeys when the Daasanach migrate). The huts have a hearth, with mats covering the floor used for sleeping. The Dies, or lower class, are people who have lost their cattle and their way of living. They live on the shores of Lake Turkana hunting crocodiles and fishing. Although their status is low because of their lack of cattle, the Dies help the herders with crocodile meat and fish in return for meat. Overnight Turmi. Turmi lodge (+251-116-631-481/+251-911-679-096)
Day 7.Sat. TURMI-DIMEKA-TURMI
At late morning, we leave the lodge to drive to the Saturday Dimeka market. Today we spend our day with the Hamar tribe (Omotic tribe of 45000 pop). The Hamars live among the bush covered hills on the eastern side of the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia. They are a tribe with unique rituals such as a cattle-leaping ceremony that men go through in order to reach adulthood, and young Hamar women get whipped to prove their love for their kinsmen. They also have women weepers for their ancestral rites. The Hamars are one of the most colourful and hospitable tribes in the valley. The land isn’t owned by individuals – it’s free for cultivation and grazing, just as fruit and berries are free for whoever collects them. The Hamar move on when the land is exhausted or overwhelmed by weeds. Often families will pool their livestock and labour to herd their cattle together. In the dry season, whole families go to live in grazing camps with their herds, where they survive on milk and blood from the cattle. Just as for the other tribes in the valley, cattle and goats are at the heart of Hamar life. They provide the cornerstone of a household’s livelihood. Cattle and goats are used as ‘bride wealth’ that men must pay to marry. There is a division of labour in terms of sex and age. The women and girls grow crops (the staple is sorghum, alongside beans, maize and pumpkins). They’re also responsible for collecting water, doing the cooking and looking after the children – who start helping the family by herding goats from around the age of eight. The young men of the village work the crops, defend the herds or go off raiding for livestock from other tribes, while adult men herd the cattle, plough with oxen and raise beehives in acacia trees. Relations with neighbouring tribes vary. Cattle raids and counter-raids are a constant danger. After the Dimeka market, in the afternoon, we will have to depend on luck to see if there is any bull jumping ceremony near in the village. This ceremony happens only at weddings. Overnight in Turmi at Turmi lodge. (+251-116-631-481/+251-911-679-096,)
Day 8 – Sun – TURMI-KARO-TURMI
Drive to the Karo land Murule. The Karos share the same ancestors as the Hamers in the highlands. Legend says that a long time ago, their ancestors lost their Zebus in the acacia bush land. When searching for their Zebus, they discovered the Omo River which they have never seen before and they decided to settle along the river and became fishermen (Karo=Fish). Today they live along the Omo river banks. They are famous for body painting. We will spend some time at a Karo village shooting photos there, and we will have a picnic. Then we will drive back to Turmi and stay overnight at Turmi. Turmi Lodge (+251-116-631-481/+251-911-679-096,
Day 9 – MON – TURMI-ERBORE-KONSO
Leave Turmi in the morning and follow the Buska mountain chain. Visit the Erbore and the villages of this Cushitic tribe. Meet Erbore elders and young colourfully dressed girls and boys. The Ebores paint their faces and bodies in brilliant colours. Then we drive up to the higher parts of Konso to meet the King of Konso and the Konso villages where houses have stone walls and conical roofs. Overnight Konso. Kanta lodge (+251 467730062)
Day 10. Tue. KONSO-SHASHAMANE
Today we will be driving to the Rasteferian town of Shashamane at the foot of the Bale Mountains. Shashamane is the capital of the Rastafarian Movement. The Rastas are mainly Jamaicans who started migrating to Ethiopia 38 years ago, when Haile Selassie gave them 500 hectares of land on which to settle. This was in gratitude for their help in defending Ethiopia during the Second Italian-Ethiopian War. When Haile Selassie was deposed in 1974, the new government of Mengistu Haile Mariam confiscated all but 11 hectares. Today, nearly half of the people in Shashamene are Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, with about 30% Muslims. It’s a beautiful town in the Central Great Rift Valley. Here we will be passing by different agro climatic cultivated zones and coffee plantations. It is one of the best coffee supply provinces of Ethiopia. We will pass through, and shoot the Cushitic agriculturalist tribes, the Burj, Gedeo and Sidamas. Coordinates: 7°12′N 38°36′E. Over night at Shashamane. Rift valley hotel (+251 221112345)
Day 11. Wed. SHASHAMANE-DINSHO-GOBA
Today we head towards the Bale Mountains, a high altitude plateau that is broken by numerous spectacular volcanic plugs and peaks, beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams that descend into deep rocky gorges on their way to the lowlands below. The Bale is the second highest mountain range in Ethiopia. Starting at 1000m we will drive up to 3000m. The main attractions of the park are the wild alpine scenery, particularly on the 4000m high Saneti Plateau, and the relative ease with which you can see many birds and mammals that are unique to Ethiopia. The Bale Mountains are a formation of volcanic eruptions during the Cenozoic Era about 25 million years ago. The massif is dotted with volcanic-blister domes and plugs. The Landscape here is literally breath taking. Today we will also see some of the endemic wild life in the main game reserve. (Mountain Nyalas, Menelik Bush bucks, Warthogs, Bohor reed bucks, simian wolf, golden jackal, etc.) The Bale region is undoubtedly the best part of Ethiopia for endemic birds, and a casual visitor could hope to see most of these. Perhaps the most peculiar bird of the alpine highlands is Rouget’s rail, a moorhen-like bird with a distinctive white rump. Overnight at Goba. Wabe Shebelle Hotel (Coordinates: 7°1’27″N 39°58’46″E,Tel:+251 226610041)
Day 12. Thu. GOBA – SENETIE – HARENA FOREST – GOBA
Today we will go to the second highest point of Ethiopia, at 4377m, on the Senetie plateau. It’s an “Island in the air”, a vast Alpine zone, sheltering the rare and endangered Abyssinian wolf. The plateau is also home to about 40000 rodents per hectare, which includes the endemic giant mole rat. At the end of the plateau we will descend to the escarpment of the Harena forest, which is one of the few remaining natural forests in the entire country of Ethiopia. This region is known for its mammals, amphibians and birds including many endemic species. The Sanetti Plateau once was habitat to packs of the endangered Painted Hunting Dog, but expanding human presence has resulted in this species becoming endangered. The edge of the plateau is marked with volcanic conic chimneys. We’ll have a picnic in the forest and then drive back to Goba.
Incidentally, Ethiopia is the country where coffee originated and is therefore the only place in the world where you can find coffee plants in a wild state. For thousands of years each family has roasted its own berries, ground them in a mortar and offered coffee to guests following a solemn ritual involving symbolic displays of hospitality, friendship and respect.
The preparation of coffee―an integral part of daily Ethiopian life―is an atmospheric traditional ceremony covering all social classes. Guests are welcomed by a woman in charge, and by a carpet of freshly cut grass and flowers spread before a small table holding the traditional small cups without handles. The shelled coffee beans are washed and roasted until they are the right colour, and then shown to the guests. A coffee aroma permeates the air, aided by delicate hand movements. The powder obtained after grinding the beans in a mortar is poured into a jabana, the traditional coffee pot, full of boiling water. The first coffee (abol), already sugared, is served to the oldest person, then the next two are made (tona and baraka), by adding water to the jabana as required. The three coffees are served with corn, wheat or toasted barley.
The Harenna forest, one of the largest in Ethiopia, is situated in the mountains of the magnificent Bale National Park, 350 km south of the capital Addis Ababa. Here, at an altitude of around 1800 meters, an arabica coffee grows spontaneously in the shade of tall trees. It has outstanding quality potential which has been little studied or developed. The small farmers of this area mainly live on selling coffee which is their main source of income.
The gatherers harvest the ripe fruit by hand, an operation which is often obstructed by baboons, which are very greedy for them.
The berries do not require stripping or washing, which are crucial stages for coffee from Latin American Presidia. It is a real “natural” coffee: after the berries are harvested they are just dried in the sun on suspended nets.
Overnight Goba at Wabe Shebelle hotel (Coordinates: 7°1’27″N 39°58’46″E, Tel:+251 226610041)
Day 13. Friday – GOBA-ADDIS ABABA
Drive from Goba to Addis Ababa. Get some time for shopping and have traditional evening and welfare diner with Folkloric ambience of Ethiopia.
Day 14. Saturday – Flight home
For more details and booking email: [email protected]