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The Black Elephant Tour – Southwestern

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This is a unique trip to two of the least visited and accessible parks in Ethiopia: the Omo and the Gambela National Parks. A level 3/4 skill level tour for off-road enthusiasts looking for a unique trip in one of the last remaining unspoilt corners of Africa.

Tour Details

This is a unique trip to two of the least visited and accessible parks in Ethiopia: the Omo and the Gambela National Parks. A level 3/4 skill level tour for off-road enthusiasts looking for a unique trip in one of the last remaining unspoilt corners of Africa. Tourism infrastructures are almost inexistent in the Parks, therefore for accommodation we will rely almost exclusively on camping some of it wild. Come with an adventurous spirit and be prepared for some amazing riding in the Omo and Gambela plains alongside its wildlife. Meet some of most remarkable, fascinating and less visited tribes in Africa and if lucky witness their come of age rituals – a spectacle few have witnessed… Book now to avoid disappointment!

Duration of the tour:

16 days/15 nights

Riding days:

14 days

Total distance:

Approx. 2,522 Km/ 1,567 miles

Skill level:


Lodging type:

Hotels and camping sites

Maximum nr. of riders



Day 1Arrival in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Cultural evening in one of the best restaurants of Addis.

Day 2 - 5Menagesha National Forest - Bebeka Coffee Plantation

Ride through the magnificent Menagesha National Forest at altitudes ranging from 2,300 to 3,000 meters in a mix of road and off-road riding. Stop at the Wonchi Crater Lake an extinct volcano that reaches 3,386 meters. Here we can see fine examples of Gurage homes (one of Ethiopia ‘s most remarkable and industrious people) with roofs that almost touch the ground on each side. The road on this first 3 riding days varies from really good to very stony, with some parts worst than others. Yeahp! You will have fun! Visit the Gibe Water Falls on the way to Jimma.

We will stop at the Bebeka Coffee Plantation, a small paradise nested inside lush green forest. See the various coffee strips at various stages of development and visit the only rubber plantation in Ethiopia alongside fields of cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla… (262 km off-road / 478 km paved).

Overnights in double occupancy accommodation

Day 6 - 10Omo National National Park - Nyangatom, Dasanech , Surma

This is what you really came for: after Bebeka the landscape changes dramatically as we get closer to the Omo National National Park and Omorate. On the first day the ride will mostly be good but the first 44 km are very, very bad. Come prepared to curse!

The Omo National Park is the largest in the country, with an area of 4,068 square kilometres. It is a vast expanse of true wilderness, adjacent to the Omo River, which flows southwards into Lake Turkana and is one of the richest and least-visited wildlife sanctuaries in Eastern Africa.

Ethiopia is often referred to as the ‘water tower’ of eastern Africa because of the many rivers that pour off its high tableland, and a visit to this part of the Rift Valley, studded with lakes, volcanoes and savannah grassland, will give you a true safari experience.

Eland, oryx, Burchell’s zebra, Lelwel hartebeest, buffalo, giraffe, elephant, waterbuck, kudu, lion, leopard and cheetah roam within the park’s boundaries and you may even be able to ride the Omo Savannah alongside them.

Visit the Nyangatom, Dasanech and Surma tribes. If lucky witness the Surma Donga fights (come of age ceremony), even though it has been banned by the Government because of it’s violence, it is still sometimes done.

Lots of Sand, bush and open fields riding where you will have lots of fun with your bike (686 km off-road).

Overnights: Camping

Day 11 - 14Park of Gambela

This is where the ride to the remote and swampy Park of Gambela starts. It is one of Ethiopia’s least developed parks and has no facilities. Nevertheless, the large conservation area contains many species not found elsewhere in the country, such as the Nile lechwe and the white-eared kob. Roan antelope, topi, elephant, buffalo, giraffe and the unusual whale – headed stork are also to be found here.

We will take one day to visit the Park and will either visit the area inhabited by Anuwak fishermen and Nuer Pastoralists whose lifestyles are still virtually untouched from western influences or head to more remote areas for game viewing. Due to poaching, game in the park is shrinking alarmly but can still be seen.

This is one of Ethiopia’s true tropical zones and here all the elements of the African safari are to be found, enhanced by a distinctly Ethiopian flavour. Lost in the endless undulating plains of high Sudanese grass, it’s a place of exciting adventure and one of the few remaining challenges to the explorer (445 km off-road / 321 km paved).

Overnights: Camping and basic lodgings

Day 15Departure to Addis

In the evening we will have a farewell dinner in one of the best restaurants of Addis. There are many good Restaurants, Bars, Discos, Jazz Live Music and Cultural Dance venues to offer if you want to extend your stay (330 km asphalt/under rehabilitation).
Overnight in Addis

Day 16Flight Home