Getting to the Omo Valley
By flight to Arba Minch
Most visitors to the Omo Valley start their journey in Arba Minch, the largest city on Ethiopia’s southern circuit and the gateway town into the Omo. Arba Minch is surrounded by mountains, verdant valleys, and two of the largest lakes in the Rift Valley.
Thanks to Ethiopia’s well-connected domestic flight system, you can easily reach Arba Minch via a short flight from any other airport town in the country, although you will probably need to connect via Addis Ababa.
Most visitors spend a night or two in Arba Minch before heading further into the Omo. Paradise Lodge is the best accommodation option here with great views of the valleys and lakes from the restaurant and bar.
By flight to Jinka
Another option to get to the Omo Valley is to fly directly to Jinka, the regional capital of the Omo Valley and the only town with an airport (Arba Minch isn't technically in the Omo Valley). From here, you'll take to the road to explore the region over the course of a few days, before heading up to Arba Minch to continue your onward journey.
Flying into Jinka instead of Arba Minch means you avoid backtracking as Jinka is along the Omo Valley circuit whereas Arba Minch is some hours north of the Omo by car. Whether flying to Jinka or Arba Minch, the flights are reasonably priced and there is a significant discount (~60%) available to those who also fly internationally with Ethiopian Airlines.
If starting from Addis Ababa, it is possible to reach the Omo Valley by driving across the Rift Valley that runs south of Addis Ababa. A drive like this across the Rift Valley is an experience in itself, and there are a number of amazing wildlife spots, national parks, lakes and towns to explore along the way.
You can spend a couple of nights at lakeside lodges, learn about local life and enjoying the beautiful scenery. A drive from Addis to the Omo Valley should take 2 to 3 days when done properly.
Planning your journey
All travel in the Omo Valley must be done by road, mostly on gravel or dirt roads. You will stop at various towns in each region that will serve as your base for visiting the communities within that area. Drive times between communities are typically 2-4 hours, and although the vehicles are good quality Toyota Landcruisers - the roads can be bumpy, and you will be spending a significant amount of time in a vehicle.
These drive times mean it's not possible to visit every community in the Omo Valley in just a few days, and balancing travel times with an in-depth exploration of the Omo Valley is a big challenge for independent travellers. We've visited this region many times over the years, and have sent hundreds of travellers to the region - we know it well and can help you get the most out of your time in the Omo Valley.
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