Benishangul Gumuz is one of the nine regional states in Ethiopia, located in the most western section of the country bordering Sudan. The name Benishangul is derived from two words Bela and Shangul. Bela is a local Nilotic word of the Berta tribes to mean rainmaking stone. Shangul is an Arabic word to support the claim of the Berta that they have an Arabic root. The present capital city is called Assosa which formerly was called Atsotso until the year 1886. The region is blessed with five unique and different tribal people. All of them have their own languages, cultural assets and religious practices. It is quite interesting for travelers to be available in these villages as these people are less visited even by people from their neighboring regions. Visit to these villages is always authentic, natural and life time experience. The most dominant tribe in Benishangul Gumuz regional state is the Berta. They account about 25.9 % of the total population (720,000 total populations). They speak Nilo-Saharan language family and practice the religion of Islam being fluent in Arabic language, for which they claim to be descendants of the Arabs. The Berta's are hugely popular for having a unique dance practiced during some special occasions such as wedding & festivals called Zumbara. They have a traditional bamboo made flute looking music instrument huge in size & making dazzling sound. The Gumuz are second largest next to Berta, about 21.1%.settled from mandura -aremja (Blue Nile River on the way to Assosa). They are characterized by being deep dark skin. They practice exchange marriage and inherited wives but no intermarriage within the same clan. Some are Muslims but most of them are traditional believers. They have scarification as tribe mark (identification mark). The Gumuz Speak Nilo-Saharan language family. Women are more responsible to carry out all types of activities. The Gumuz women give birth in a forest and stay there for about 40 days.
Drive to the town of Kossober along the Bahir Dar road. En route visit to the breathtaking Blue-Nile gorge which is comparable to the Grand Canyon in the USA. The town is known or making a gain made liuore called "Areke" and for its pure crater lake of Zengen. The lake is also regarded by the local Agew people to be a holy water and many come down to take it for medication use. Walk to the base of the lake and walk in the surrounding juniper tree. Overnight camping in the mouth of the Lake Zengena.
Drive via Chagni and Mandura. In the town of Chagni, visit to the colorful reddish Dondor waterfalls. Chagni is a town under the Amhara region administration and for long known to be home of the "Agew", original Ethiopian Jews people. On Saturday, there will be a colorful market for the "Gumz", "Shinasha and Agaw people". The "Gumz" are one of the 5 ethnic groups of the Benishangul Gumz region who are also found in the neighboring Sudan and were known in the past as "Shankla" a term used to denote their very dark skin and no more in use today. They are known to be good hunters of duikers and warthog and the same practice goes up until today. Presently they depend on shifting cultivation and grown mainly sorghum. Sorghum is used by the "Gumz" people to prepare porridge and also make a local beer called "Kea". They also do gather honey and fruits too. Those living in Sudan and along its border follow Muslim religion while some also adhere to Christianity but most follow the traditional belief in spirits. Chagni is also known to have the "Ardi" river that joins the other two lakes of "Dondor" & "Dura" and flows to the Blue -Nile River as a tributary. Take time in the colorful market and drive to the small town of Gublak. O/n Camping
Drive back to the town of Dahans Baguna where there is a colorful Sunday market to visit the Gumz people. On the way to the small market visit the Gumz women carrying fire wood and charcoal in a balance. Spend time at the colorful market and drive to Guba or Mankush. O/n Camping at the hotel compound
In the morning visit the former Palace of "Dej Azmach" Banjaw who was a military commander of the highest post during Emperor Minilik II time. The design o the palace resembles the caste of Gondar and was built by a Sudanese engineer in the year 1941-1943 the local chief use to have 40 wives living in the same compound including his Sudanese one. Then depart to Assosa. In few kilometers make de-tour to see the grand renaissance millennium dam which Egypt is opposing the construction and proceed driving. Then visit to the last flow of Blue-Nile river with in Ethiopia before entering to the Sudan soil at a place called "Arenja". Also take a visit to "Sherkole", the site where the Berta tribes make their living from a significant gold mining labor. The "Berta" people who are also called "Wetawit" are believed to migrate to their present location from eastern Sudan during the 16th & 17th century to the present locations they are now. A good number of "Berta" people are still found in Sudan. The area where they settled now was regarded by ancient Egyptians as a site of gold extraction. Most of them follow a Muslim religion and adhere to it strongly with a practice of indigenous belief on the spirit that they use to make rain and heal ill people among them. Like their counterpart tribes in the surrounding they depend mainly on growing of sorghum as a stable food. Over the centuries, they have been intermarried with Arabs and for the same reason speak fluent Arabic language in addition to their local language. In addition to traditional gold mining they depend on growing of fruits and other cereals as they use the gold for bartering of different goods and products. Take time at the gold mining and proceed driving to Assosa for overnight. O/n Camping or Bamboo hotel
In the morning head to visit the two Twin Mountains called Fametsere regarded by the Berta to be holy and couple mountains. For the reason of respecting to these mountains the Berta people do not access of climb in these mountains. Drive back to the junction and drive to Menge village where major traditional gold excavation work goes on. Along the road stop for a nice walk in the green jungle of the famous rock site called Bel Embeshe where the name Benishangul is derived from. Every year the Berta people will make a white dog scarification and coffee ceremony to their god in this particular place. Then drive to the place where the Berta with the surrounding Agaw & Oromo people do gold mine excavation, cleaning and collection work and back to Assossa. O/n Camping or Bamboo hotel
After a breakfast head to "Bambasi" zone, it is one of the 20 administrative zones known by hosting different ethnic groups. Most of the people living in "BamBasi" are followers of the Muslim religion and are migrants from the Wello region during the big famine period and also the surrounding Oromo people. Admire the colorful weekly market attended by the neighboring Oromo, Berta, and Amhara people. Then drive to the Ye'amesera mosque, where a Nigerian Sheik built a mosque during the 1940's. The Nigerian man has also introduced a small scale hydro-electric power system from which the locals get power for their mill house and also light. This place is an important pilgrimage site for many Muslims in the end of the big Ramadan season where up to 5 thousand people would come. Proceed driving to the market place for the Mao & Komo people that live bordering Sudan and follow the Muslim religion. The women of Komo have a tradition of piercing their lower lip and inserting a stick. Also they have a tradition of drinking locally made alcohol in group by a straw looking bamboo stick. The Mao and Kamo are also known for their body scarification. The Mao men have scarification in the face & chest, while female on the belly part. Also the Komo men on the forehead & face, while female on the belly. O/n camping in the compound of the Mosque.
After breakfast head to the "Ganzo tribe", known for having a body scarification culture. The "Ganzo" are among the more than 80 tribe, just discovered and recorded few years ago by the Ethiopian government. They are totally 150 members and practice scarification over their body. The men mainly in the face & chest while female in the belly, arms & back. They depend for their livelihood mainly on hunting of monkey, alligator and warthogs. They are the least surviving tribes in Ethiopia. Then drive back to Assosa. En route take a stop at the Thursday weekly animal market of Koshmandu village. The Berta, Mao, Komo and Oromo people would mingle in this market to trade goat's cattle, sheep & chicken. O/n camping or Bamboo Hotel
Visit to the Assosa museum and the Judge house of the last leader of the region, Sheik Ojele and then drive to Nekemte, the oldest town that has been acting as a capital for the Oromo region in the past. Along the road take a junction to drive to the Anger falls which goes out from the tributary of the Blue-Nile called Anger River. O/n Didessa, Didessa Lodge
Excursion on Dedesa River, in the forest spotting birds. O/n Didessa Lodge
Drive to Addis Ababa. En route visit to the Wenchi Crater Lake in the town of Ambo and the St. Mary church in Addis Alem which was originally built to be the Palace of Minilik II by Indians.