The Omo River is rated as one of the world's great rafting trips. It has it all: challenging whitewater, abundant wildlife, excellent birds, superb scenery, and some of the most unique unvisited people in Africa. It is a trip back in time, to another era, road-less and pristine, where wildlife and traditional tribal groups carry on their lives, relatively untouched by the modern world. The trip is for the adventurous in spirit, for the lover of the wild; the river expedition that in 15 years has not become a 'tour'
Even the most remote corners of Ethiopia will eventually see roads, bridges and tourists lodges. A strong reason to take the chance to experience this piece of a "disappearing world".
From the first hour of the trip, a series of lively and challenging rapids spice our descent. While offering splashing excitement, none of the rapids we encounter are threatening and no previous experience is required. We scout the larger rapids and team members will have the option to walk around, providing excellent photo opportunities.
The variety of scenery throughout the trip is truly dramatic; ranging from sections of spectacular sheer inner gorges (up to 4000 feet high) to lowland deserts. There are innumerable side streams with waterfalls up to 1000 feet high; water slides; hot springs; and clear, cool swimming pools. There are still many places yet to be explored and each trip we investigate new ones.
Wildlife: Hippos surfacing near the boats for a suspicious inspection, crocodiles basking in the sun, bushbuck silently taking an afternoon drink, mesmerized waterbuck staring as we float by, colobus monkeys flying through the trees, baboons barking from their cliffs.... Sometimes even lions, leopards, and wild dogs.
Vegetation: Giant euphorbias, fragrant jasmine, rare orchids, the desert rose, classic acacias.
Birdlife: A full complement of African water birds, plus forest and bush species. Fish eagles, Goliath herons, kingfishers, bee eaters, storks, kites, vultures.... In the background, the soft lament of the emerald spotted wood dove, the bubbly purr of the white browed coucal and the raucous cawing of silvery cheeked hornbills.
Activities: Hiking up the sidestreams to fantastic waterfalls, highland villages and markets. Swimming in clear pools, showering under falls, soaking in hotsprings. Fishing the Omo catfish which can exceed 5 feet and 50 pounds.
Exotic Tribes: We'll meet among the most remote and least visited people anywhere. Our interaction with those spectacularly decorated and friendly groups is something very special.
Comforts: Pleasant climate, great campsites, excellent cuisine featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products, bread, pies and cakes baked in a well embered Dutch oven. Thermarest sleeping pads and Eureka Timberline tents are provided.
Annoyances: Insects (tsetse flies and mosquitoes) can be a big irritation. Tsetse flies are attracted to blue and red, so try to avoid wearing these colors. They dislike white and yellow, and we've found the best protection is to combining a cotton t-shirt with a cotton long-sleeve "duck" shirt on top.
Crew: An elite crew of international and Ethiopian river guides who know and love the African bush along with English and Amharic speaking local guides and staff.
Expert leadership and excellent naturalist guides, airport transfers, all hotels
and meals (except as noted), river trip, camp and cook staff, camping and commissary
equipment, room occupancy taxes, all ground transportation.
International flights, visas, airport taxes, insurance of any kind, tips, excess
baggage, cost of immunizations, and items of a personal nature (laundry, sodas, alcoholic
Day 1 : Depart home, en route to Ethiopia.
Day 2 : Arrive Addis Ababa. Upon arrival you will be greeting by an
expedition representative, and transfer together to the Holiday Hotel or similar
accommodations. Afternoon free to relax and see the city. Welcome dinner and trip
briefing. Overnight Holiday Hotel. (D)
Day 3 : After breakfast we begin making our way to the river. We
drive through the typical highland farming country with thatched huts dotting the fields of
ripening grain. Our 65 mile drive brings us to the small town of Wolisso, where we spend
the night at the Wolisso Hot Springs Hotel. (B,L,D)
Days 4-11 Upper Half : Drive 50 miles to Gibe Bridge. After rigging the boats, we head
downstream and are soon baptized by the rapids abounding in this section. The river lies
within a 5,000-foot deep canyon and the scenery changes constantly. We have ample
time to stop for hikes and to swim in tributaries. We visit spectacular waterfalls, careen
down the water slides of the Red Grotto and Baboon Flume, float beneath the 300-foot
cliffs of serenity Canyon and soak in hot springs by the light of the moon.
We usually lay over (two nights at on site) at least once, frequently at a lovely campsite
from which we can climb up to visit picturesque Wolayta villages. The first half of the Omo
has an abundance of wildlife: we have a chance to observe hippo as they surface near our
boats for a suspicious inspection, see crocodiles basking in the sun, colobus monkeys
flying through the trees, and baboon barking from the cliffs. Occasionally we spot lion,
leopard, or greater kudu.
Day 12 Resupply: Meet re-supply vehicles at the Bele Bridge to take fresh
supplies. Those doing only the upper half of the trip will leave the river here, spending on
night en route to Addis Ababa at Lake Langano. The rest of the group continues
downstream to our first camp on the lower half.
Day 13-23 Lower half: The river cuts through a deep canyon for the first few days, but
starts to open up with frequent tree-lined broad stretches, curving around enormous rock
bars. Two of the Omo's most challenging await us on the third and fourth day. Superb
vistas of distant peaks and mountain slopes with a patchwork of fields appear around
every bend. The birdlife increases: we see fish eagles, Goliath herons, kingfishers, beeeaters
and much more; in the background we'll hear the raucous cawing of silverycheeked
hornbills or the bubbly purr of the white-browed coucal.
Hikes to highland farms bring us to more and more remote groups: Gemo, Gofa, Zala, and
the Kulo-Konta. Finally, as the canyon opens up and the river broadens, we encounter our
first group of lower Omo peoples, the Bodi. Jolly bands hail us from the shore, and we
frequently pull in to chat, observe, take pictures, and give limited medical help. For the last
week or so, we encounter Bodi, Mursi, Kwegu (Bacha), and Chara. Each group has its
distinctive dress and decoration: fantastic hair-dos, enormous clay lip-plates, ear plugs,
bark-cloth, and beaded leather skirts. We'll have many chances to buy or trade for carved
wooden headrests, artful baskets, musical instruments, or honey. (B,L,D each day)
Day 24 : Our final day on the Omo. Depending on the road and weather we’ll either
end our trip at Karo or Murelle where we meet 4x4 vehicles and begin our journey back to
Addis Ababa. We overnight in Jinka at a small hotel where we enjoy hot showers and a
comfortable bed. (B,L,D)
Day 25 : En route to Addis Ababa. We drive north through the Rift Valley spending
one night along the way and arrive back in the capital late afternoon of the second day. In
the evening we enjoy live music and a farewell dinner celebration at one of the many
excellent restaurants in Addis. Overnight Holiday Hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 26 : Free day in Addis Ababa for last-minute shopping and sightseeing. Day
rooms will be available. Breakfast included, other meals are on your own. Evening transfer
to airport for departure. (B)
Day 27 : En route home.
Please Note:Terms and conditions apply. We reserve the right to change prices if necessary.