Safaris to Ethiopia concentrate on the cultural history of the country. We travel to the Omo Valley in the South of Ethiopia to see the fast vanishing indigenous tribes still located there. The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are also an essential stop. While Ethiopia does not have wildlife like other areas in Africa, Hemingway Safaris strives to tie in animals whenever possible. Hemingway Gallery has held multiple fundraising events for Born Free in New York. Born Free’s president Adam Roberts is a powerful force in the animal conservation world. We arrange with him personally for in depth tours of the Born Free animal sanctuary just outside of Addis Ababa. This sanctuary rescues illegally owned and abused wild animals throughout Ethiopia.
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Ethiopia Cultural Safari
Destinations in Ethiopia include Addis Ababa, Lalibela, Gonder, and the Omo Valley among others. See the UNESCO world heritage site composed of the rock-hewn churches in Lalibela. Visit the Omo River in Ethiopia’s famous Rift Valley where the Hamar tribes preserve the authentic cultures of the area.
Visit the 3.6 million year old remains of “Lucy”, who’s skeletal remains were discovered in 1974. At that time, the bones were the oldest proto-human remains ever found, which lends credence to the theory that human life arose in Africa. Visit the Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa. Here you will be presented with a confusing, but fascinating, glimpse of the vast range of goods and artefacts available from all parts of the country and enjoy the Ethiopian trade exchange tradition.
The town of Lalibela, lies among the Lasta Mountains at 2630 m above sea level and remains until today a place of pilgrim and devotion for Ethiopian Christians. The construction of the eleven rock-hewn churches is attributed to king Lalibela of the Zagwe Dynasty. Some of the 12th century churches are monolithic, carved from a sloping mass of red volcanic rock and interconnected by a maze of tunnels and passages with openings to hermit caves and catacombs. Some are of the basilica type, having archaic features and imitating architectural elements from earlier periods, yet they differ in design and style. Two are decorated with interesting wall paintings and carved figures. The Lalibela churches are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ethnic Groups of the Omo Valley
The Karo people are experts in body painting using clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on their faces, chests, arms and legs. These designs have no special symbolic significance but are created purely for fun and aesthetic effect, each artist vying to outdo his fellows. Karo men also sculpt and shave their hair into extravagant shapes, with special ochre "caps" of hair usually containing several ostrich feathers.
The Mursi are renowned for the strange custom followed by their women who, on reaching maturity, have their lower lips slit and circular clay discs inserted.
A pagan society, the Konso people erect eerie wooden totems replete with phallic symbols over the graves of the dead and have numerous cults based around the breeding and veneration of serpents. The cornerstone of Konso culture, however, is a highly specialized and successful agricultural economy that, through terracing buttressed with stone, enables these people to extract a productive living from the none-too-fertile hills and valleys that surround them.