Coffee and Culture in the Western Highlands - 7 Day Tour

  • See the palace of Abba Jiffar, the last independent King of Jimma
  • Visit the stunningly beautiful Kafa Biosphere Reserve, the birthplace of coffee
  • Tour the Bebeke Coffee Estate - the largest in Ethiopia
  • Meet people of the Surma and Dizi tribes and learn about their ways of life

The western highlands of Ethiopia, with their lush green forests and rolling hills, productive cultivation and dense mountain forests, do more than any other part of the country to dispel the myth of Ethiopia of a land just of deserts and famine.  The western highlands are the birthplace of coffee and home to dramatic natural rainforests, remarkable landscapes, beautiful villages, and fascinating local cultures.

Day 1: Addis Ababa to Jimma

Leaving Addis Ababa, you will start the journey south west to Jimma.  On the way, you'll see villages of the Gurage and Oromo people, and the land that they traditionally farm.  Overnight in a hotel in Jimma.

Day 2: Jimma to Mizan Tefari

You'll spend the morning exploring Jimma, including visits to the Jimma Museum and Abba Jiffar's Palace.  Abba Jiffar was the last independent King of Jimma, and a selection of his personal effects are on display at the museum, along with some interesting ethnographic displays relating to local cultures.  Abba Jiffar's palace was built during the early years of his reign at a cost of 400kg of gold and 65,000 Maria Theresa dollars (money obtained largely through the King's active involvement in the slave trade).  From Jimma, you will continue the journey west, passing through the Kafa Biosphere Reserve and stopping at Kafa village.  The Kafa Biosphere Reserve contains the last remaining Ethiopian subtropical moist forests of any size and is a biodiversity hotspot, containing more than 5,000 species of plants.  The forest is managed by community-based committees and is also renowned for its abundance of sustainable non-timber forest products including coffee, forest cardamon, forest pepper and honey.  It contains natural features such as hot springs and waterfalls and is a haven for monkeys and birds, many of which remain undocumented.  Continuing the journey to Mizan Tefari, you will pass through more scenic countryside and a huge tea plantation at Wushwush.  Overnight in a hotel in Mizan Tefari.

Day 3: Mizan Tefari to Kibish

From Mizan Tefari, you will follow the remote road towards the village of Kibish, stopping on the way at the Bebeka Coffee Estate.  This is the largest coffee plantation in Ethiopia, covering 6,500 ha, and is home to an interesting variety of bird life.  From Bebeke, the road descends into more open savannah with tall acacia trees and bands of riparian woodland supporting rich bird life.  You will pass through the small market town of Dima, as well as traditional villages, and you may well see Surma men herding their cattle.  Overnight camping near Kibish.

Day 4: Kibish

You'll spend the day exploring the village of Kibish and meeting the Surma people (also known as the Suri).  The Surma are agro-pastoralists, with the women traditionally taking care of the household and the land, and the men taking care of the livestock.  Young boys and unmarried men spend much of the year in temporary grazing camps, returning to the established settlements only for ceremonial events and to collect food supplies.  The Surma are similar in appearance to the Mursi, with their most noticeable feature being the lip-plates worn by the women.  They also practise the art of body painting, mixing different coloured clays with water.  The men of the Surma take part in ritual stick fights using long wooden poles, called Donga.  Fights are held so that young men can prove themselves to the girls and find a wife.  They are also used to settle disputes between individuals, clans, or even whole villages. Overnight camping near Kibish.

Day 5: Kibish to Tum

From Kibish, you will travel to Tum, spending the day meeting members of the Surma and Dizi tribes.  The Dizi people live in the highlands around Maji and Hanna and cultivate the land, and have traditionally been looked down on by the Surma because of their lack of cattle wealth.  Overnight camping near Tum.

Day 6: Tum to Jimma

From Tum, you will complete the circuit back to Jimma, passing through lands occupied by the Menit, Bench and Kefa people.  Overnight in a hotel in Jimma.

Day 7: Jimma to Addis Ababa

From Jimma, you will make the return journey to Addis Ababa, arriving in the late afternoon.

 Services Included

  • An experienced professional English-speaking guide

  • All meals from lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 7

  • All land transport involved in the itinerary

  • 3 nights accommodation in hotels, plus 3 nights camping

  • Entrance fees and local guides for all excursions described

Services Not Included

  • Travel Insurance

  • Ethiopian Visa

  • Tips for staff

  • Miscellaneous expenses – alcoholic drinks, souvenirs etc.

Accommodation

This trip includes 3 nights' accommodation in hotels.  The exact accommodation used will be dependant on availability but please remember that Ethiopia is a developing country and that accommodation can be basic in comparison to European standards. All accommodation is based on two people sharing a room. If you are travelling by yourself, we can pair you with another client of the same gender or, depending on availability, it may be possible to book a single room (additional charges may apply).

The trip also includes 3 nights' camping.  Please bring your own sleeping bag, but all other camping equipment (tents, mattresses, cooking equipment etc.) will be provided. 

Group Leader & Support Staff

The group will be accompanied by an experienced English-speaking guide plus a driver and various local support staff.

Guidance On Tipping

Tipping should not be seen as something you have to do but in Ethiopia, as in many parts of the world, it is an appropriate way of saying thank you for a service well done. For each of your drivers on this trip we would recommend around £5 per day from the group, and for each of your guides around £10 per day from the group.

 

Upcoming group tour dates:

  • Sunday 17th - Saturday 23rd November 2019 (open for bookings)
  • Sunday 11th - Saturday 17th October 2020 (open for bookings)

Interested in this tour but can't make those dates?  We can arrange dates to suit you so please contact us.

 

Prices

The cost of this tour is 33,594 ETB (1,222 USD / 1,037 EUR / 907 GBP) per person for groups of 3 or more people.

It is possible to arrange this tour for 1 or 2 people, but a surcharge may apply.  Please contact us to find out more.

Please see the further details tab for information about services included.

A deposit is required upon booking.  For more details, please see our FAQ page, or read our full terms and conditions.