Great African Rift Trek (Kenya (Nairobi) > Ethiopia (Addis)
Region: Northern Kenya & Southern Ethiopia
Duration: 22 days including 15 of treks and walks and 6 of boat rides + walks
Type: Trek, cultural encounters and boat rides
- 11 days of trek in the territories of 4 great pastoralist peoples of the region and numerous walks lasting a couple of hours,
- 6 days of boat rides and walks on Lake Turkana and the Omo River Valley,
- Cultural encounters with the Rendille, Samburu and Turkana people in Kenya, then the Dassanetch, Hamar and Konso people in Ethiopia.
Physical level: Difficult
Period: Single departure in October 2017
Group size: From 3 to 5 participants
A sneak preview:
This exceptional journey across Kenya/ Ethiopia from Nairobi to Addis Ababa is the epitome of our unrivaled know-how of the region.
The approach of spending 11 days on exclusive trekking routes and the 6 days of boat rides + walks/ exploration of Lake Turkana and the Omo valley make this trip unique.
We will focus our time in the North of Kenya and the South of Ethiopia where the most beautiful pastoralist peoples characterising the Rift Valley: Rendille, Samburu, Turkana, Dassanetch, Hamar and Konso will in turns, be our hosts. They will invite us to discover their way of life and secular traditions, giving more importance on the immense landscapes that we will pass through – original, wild and tormented by the forces of the earth.
It is not “one of those trips” but is clearly THE most beautiful and exceptional trip that can be done between East Africa and the Horn of Africa.
- A unique expedition that makes the most of the trekking approach in one of the wildest and most original regions of Africa: Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia, entering through Nairobi and leaving through Addis Ababa.
- 11 days of trekking and 4 days consisting of walks:
- 3 days at the Rendille’s with a climb of Mount Poi and the night spent at its summit,
- 2 days on the sacred mountain of the Samburu,
- 3 days between Lake Logipi and Lake Turkana in Turkana region,
- 3 days at the Hamar’s, using an exploration-oriented itinerary,
- Finally, a few hours’ walk in the forest at the foot of Mount Kenya, on certain sites of Lake Turkana (Nabuyatom and Central Island), and at the Konsos.
- Exclusive boat rides across Lake Turkana and Omo Valley that takes us to the most beautiful and inaccessible sites of this region: the Magical Central Island and the Omo Delta,
- Cultural encounters and continuous interactions with the local communities: Rendille, Samburu, Turkana, Dassanetch, Hamer and Konso,
- Other than in Hamar region, we will encounter no other tourists along the way,
- High quality guiding: French Terres Oubliées guide who is a specialist of the region, helped by local guides who are specialists of the regions we travel through.
Day to day plan:
Day 1: Nairobi – foot of Mount Kenya: On arrival in Nairobi, we will pass by the Immigration office to notify of our exit from the territory via a special border “post”. Then a brief drive to get to the foot of Mount Kenya. Night in a lodge.
Day 2: Foot of Mount Kenya – Rendille land: Early rising for a forest nature walk to see plants, birds and mostly the 3 monkey species of the forest: baboon, guereza colobus and a diadem cercopithecoid. We then take a route that makes us progressively loose altitude. The ecosystem changes and mostly, the agricultural land that we just traveled across gives way to wild stretches of Northern Kenya; we are entering the heart of the trip. At the end of the day, we set up a basic camp at our Rendille friends’ (pronounced “re-ndi-l-e”).
Day 3 to 5: Trek in Rendille land: We leave for 3 days of camel hiking led by our Rendille guide and his camel handlers; infact, here, it is women who usually load up the camels. We will discover this wild and magnificent region of Ndoto Mountains and sandy Korante desert, on a neighbouring Samburu land that is more established in the Ndoto Mountains. The walk becomes a way to approach the way of life of the local tribes that we meet along the way.
Following the pace of the camels, we approach these “dream mountains” (Ndoto = dream in Swahili language), traveling these forest zones where elephant, buffalo, hyena and leopard marks attest to a certain harmony that exists between wildlife and the life of Samburu and Rendille pastoralists.
The goal of these 3 days of walking is to also reach the summit of Mount Poi, an amazing table-like mountain dominating the region, atop which we spend the night. Our “Great African Rift trek” starts powerfully! 2 nights in bush camps and on the 3rd night we return to the campsite.
Day 6: Rendille land – Samburu land: After a brief visit of the village of our Rendille hosts, we will take the route that will lead us to the heart of Samburu land, in a small village at the foot of Nyiro Mountains. Our Samburu guide awaits us and we will make preparations for the next trek. Night in bungalows.
Days 7 and 8: Nyiro Mountains trek: We are ready for 5 days of trekking, starting with 2 days on Nyiro Mountains that we will cross with our Samburu team. These mountains, sacred to these people, are a true treasure. The lush grasslands claim their place in what is truly the most beautiful and impressive primary mountain forest in East Africa, with its giant trees. After a night on the mountain, we get to the summit where we enjoy an uninterrupted view on the next part of our trek upto Lake Turkana…
Days 9 to 11: 3-day trek in Suguta Valley & Lake Turkana: The trek continues, this time with our Turkana friends. A large caravan of donkeys carries our luggage and mostly our water, essential in tolerating the great heat that we will experience. In 3 days of trekking, we will get to the mythical Lake Turkana, via Lake Logipi on the floor of the Suguta Valley, where we will contemplate the region’s most beautiful and great landscapes. At the end of our trek, we will ride on a boat to reach the amazing site of Nabuyatom bay.
Day 12: Boat ride on Lake Turkana: Our 6-day boat adventure on the “Jade Sea” and the Omo Valley starts, alternating boat rides and walks. After having done the delicate climb of Nabuyatom volcano, we board the boat to get to the village of Loyangalani’s oasis.
Important to note that the weather conditions on the lake, majorly its strong winds that sometimes bring about storms will dictate our trip, but ideally here is what we wish to achieve
Day 13: Boat ride to Central Island: Drive on 4×4 vehicle to Sibiloi Park. It is from here that we do the boat ride to reach the mythical Central Island where we will spend the night. The magic of the place and the isolation in the middle of the immense lake get us carried away.
Day 14: Boat ride to Koobi Fora: After exploring the island on foot, with its impressive crater lakes hiding some secrets, we get to Koobi Fora site – one of the cradles of mankind.
Day 15: Entry into Ethiopia: Whereas we have in the past entered Ethiopia through the river, we are henceforth prohibited by the customs authorities. Our entry into Ethiopia will therefore be through difficult routes… on the way, we return to Dassanech area and go upto Omorate where we will carry out the immigration formalities. Night on the shores of River Omo.
Day 16: We do a 1 and 1/2 day boat ride on the Omo River Valley upto its delta. The birdlife is abundant and the crocodiles and avaran lizards are impressive. In the mid afternoon, we will put up our camp near a Dassanech Village that we will visit when the herds are back for the night.
Day 17: River Omo > Hamar Land: After exchanging greetings with our Dassanech hosts, we return to Omorate. It is the end of our boat adventure, but other joys await us. We quickly drive to Hamar region using a 4×4 vehicle.
Days 18 to 20: 3-day trek in Hamar land. We begin our hike through a section of Hamar region, renowned agro-pastroralists who distinguish themselves by extreme body art, much more than all other ethnic groups that we have and will encounter. For some “political” reasons, the region where we usually carry out our trek is no longer accessible. We are therefore going to attempt a new route, on these lands that we know quite well. We will of course adapt our program to local festivities – that are quite frequent especially the “bull jump” ceremony where the entry of a young man into adulthood is celebrated (our trek will therefore be limited to 2 days instead of 3). We should thus be ready to adapt to realities and opportunities of the moment, as is often the case in this trip that has the true taste of adventure.
At the end of our trek, on the afternoon of day 20, we drive on a 4×4 vehicle and shortly arrive at the land of the Konso people, where we set up our tents close to the territory of one of the local kings.
Day 21: Konso land > Arba Minch: We dedicate the morning to the exploration of a cultural part of Konso. Despite being far in the South of Ethiopia, Konso traditions and way of life are completely different from the people of Omo Valley! Being farmers, they have fashioned thousands of their region’s hills into numerous terraces to maximise on arable land. Industrious and naturally strong, they have equally constructed astonishing villages, surrounded by fortifications of enormous blocks of rocks, that we will explore on foot.
After this visit of Konso land, we get to the town of Arba Minch, where we settle in for our last night in a comfortable lodge overlooking Chamo and Abaya lakes, typical of the Ethiopian Rift.
Day 22: Arba Minch – Addis Ababa: Drive up to the Ethiopian capital. After a last dinner, transfer to the airport then night flight to Europe.
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