THE OMO VALLEY TRIBAL LIFE EXPEDITION – NOVEMBER 22-DECEMBER 3, 2018
Located in the far southwest of Ethiopia is the Omo Delta, one of the last great tribal regions in the world. Living in this remote yet accessible area are a vast number of tribal groups all within driving distance of one another. Living in voluntary isolation, their culture, dress and language have remained intact. Some 45 different languages are spoken, and tribes range from the many-thousand-strong Borena to the smaller Karo tribe. With the recently constructed road stretching from Addis Ababa to Arba Minch, this area is now open for exploration and tourism. To anthropologists, the Omo Valley is a living museum; to photographers, the Omo Valley is a breathtaking experience. Hairstyles, body paint, tattooes, scarification and lip plates take on meanings that distinguish each group. Returning to the roots of humanity itself, these tribes are living rhythms of the seasons.
Seven distinct groups of people live in this area. The Mursi are known for the clay lip plates that the women insert into their lower lips. The Hamer women wear thick, heavy copper necklaces that never come off and braided hairstyles colored with red ochre clay. The Karo are highly decorated with chalk and live directly above the Omo River. The Arbore are sweet pastoralists who shave their heads, wear long beaded necklaces and black head shawls. The Bodi use scarification techniques to create incredible designs on their torsos and legs. The Daasanach hunt crocodiles in the Omo River and love to sing. The Nyagatom, which means “elephant eaters, are originally from Sudan and wear deep layers of beads around their necks. They all live in visually stunning landscapes, ranging from mountains to savannah.
Visitation to the local tribes is a unique travel experience. Photographic opportunities range from documenting the daily life of the tribes, portraiture and dramatic landscapes as well as the opportunity to enhance one’s compositional skills. Until the 1970s, these tribes had no contact with the outside world. Now you will have the opportunity to get to know them. Traveling three photographers per Land Cruiser, eating the local food and staying at local accommodations makes this a special experience.
DAY ONE: Addis Ababa.
Arrive in Addis Ababa, transfer to hotel, and Welcome Dinner. Dinner begins at 7:30 p.m. at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, which will include the best spicy Ethiopian cuisine while watching an amazing display of traditional dancing and music. Overnight at Zola International Hotel.
DAY TWO: Addis Ababa-Arba Minch-(Dorze)
In the morning we will take a tour of Addis Ababa to visit the always buzzing and renown Merkato, which stretches for kilometers and has unique areas such as the recycling center, then proceed to Holy Trinity Cathedral, the highest ranking Orthodox cathedral in Addis Ababa, built to commemorate the liberation from Italian occupation. If time allows, we will visit the Red Terror Memorial Museum, which opened in 2010 and tells the story of recent Ethiopian history. In the early afternoon, we will board a short flight to Arba Minch. Upon arrival, we will meet the Dorze, a small ethnic group who were formerly warriors and now known for their high quality textiles. The word Dorze has become synonymous with the best quality of cotton fabrics. Their beehive-shaped houses, constructed with bamboo and rising 12 meters high, are unique, with an aristocratic entrance where guests are received. The walls and vaulted ceilings of these houses are large and airy and covered by an elegant thatch called Ensete, making the house lightweight. Gradually over time, termites will take their toll on the foundation and the house will be abandoned after approximately 40 years. We will see how the flesh of the Ensete leaves is carved out to make banana bread using a process of underground fermentation. At the end of the day we will be spending overnight at The Paradise Lodge, www.paradiselodgeethiopia.com.
DAY THREE: Arba Minch (Konso)
After breakfast, we will take a boat trip on Lake Chamo, home to numerous giant crocodiles and hippos who congregate in the middle of the lake with their offspring. Lake Chamo also contains Tigerfish and the Giant Nile Perch. We will then depart for the Konso region, situated among rolling hills covered with dense vegetation. Known for religious traditions, waga sculptures and nearby hominid fossil sites, Konso is a living cultural tradition stretching back 21 generations (over 400 years) that has adapted to its dry, hostile environment. Stone terracing agriculture, among other cultural practices, is one of the reasons why Konso is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will meet the current village chief and have a chance to interview and photograph him. We will be spending the night at The Paradise Lodge, www.paradiselodgeethiopia.com
DAY FOUR: Jinka-Mago National Park (Mursi)
After breakfast, we will visit a rural village of the Mursi located within Mago National Park. The Mursi are considered some of the most feared warriors in the Omo Valley. Donga stick fighting is a martial art that is an important part in the life of men. Stick fighting is a way for men to show their virility, courage and resistance to pain to the young women in their tribe. To show their courage, they fight completely naked. The Mursi use white chalk mixed with water for body painting. Although they are mainly a pastoral people, they have only about one head of cattle per person and considerably fewer goats and sheep. They have no more than 20 percent of the stock they would need in order to survive entirely on a diet of milk, blood and meat. They depend on cultivation for the remainder of their needs, including sorghum, maize and cowpeas. We will eat our take out lunch and then proceed to visit the ethnological museum of the people of the Omo. Dinner and overnight at the Eco-Omo Lodge, www.eco-omo.com
DAY FIVE: Jinka-Turmi (Hamer)
We will visit the Hamer Tribe, where men wear a simple checkered cloth around their hips tied with a bullet holder belt, which is sometimes used to keep bullets, but also tobacco and food. Some Hamer men stand out with original hair styles that can include ostrich feathers for special occasions. Men wear clay hair buns, which is plastered directly onto the head, covered in white chalk, and then splattered with ochre paint. Hamer women weave their hair into thin ochre braids, decorate their necks with permanent heavy iron coils that show their marital status, and wear cow skin skirts embellished with shells. We will then visit the market at Dimeka, then dinner and overnight at Buska Lodge, www.buskalodge.com
DAY SIX: Turmi (Karo)
We will visit the Karo Tribe, the smallest group whose numbers are only near 1000. Because of this, they are most susceptible to conflicts with other tribes over land and cattle. They live high above the banks of the Omo River, and numerous campfires can be seen burning on the banks directly below their village. They are experts at body painting using white clay. Overnight at Buska Lodge, www.buskalodge.com
DAY SEVEN: Turmi (Nyangatom)
We will visit the Nyangatom Tribe who live on the west bank of the lower Omo River. The Nyangatom live in the dry, semi-desert lands of southwest Ethiopia and southern Sudan, where their lives revolve around their herds of zebu cattle and raising crops. The tribe’s numbers have tripled over the last three decades to almost 14,000, partly due to missionaries who provided health care and relief supplies. They arrived in the Omo Valley from northern Uganda about 150 years ago and their territory extends all the way to the Kenyan and Sudanese borders. Their language is one of the Eastern Nilotic languages. The Nyangatom are famous among the tribes for their storytelling and singing. Dinner and overnight at Buska Lodge, www.buskalodge.com
DAY EIGHT: Turmi-Omorate (Daasanach)
We will visit the Daasanach Tribe, a semi-nomadic group numbering approximately 50,000 who live along the banks of the Omo River. Their survival is intimately linked to the forces of nature and the seasonal flooding of the Omo River. Their clans stretch across Sudan, Kenya and southern Ethiopia. Hats made from discarded bottlecaps are one of the creative ways the Daasanach use to make something beautiful out of found objects. The women wear a pleated cowskin skirt with colorful necklaces and multiple bracelets and marry by age 17. Dinner and overnight at Buska Lodge, www.buskalodge.com
DAY NINE: (Turmi-Omorate)
We will visit other Daasanach villages, those that are rarely seen by tourists. If possible, we will also visit the Bodi tribe, who are known for their unique scarification designs on both their torsos and legs. Dinner and overnight at Buska Lodge, www.buskalodge.com.
DAY TEN: Turmi (Arbore)
Today we will visit the Arbore Tribe, a small tribe that lives in the southwest region of the Omo Valley. They perform many ritualistic dances while singing in the belief that this will drive away negativity and bring good fortune to the tribe. They are pastoralists whose wealth is measured by the number of cattle they own. The women cover their heads with a black cloth and are known to wear very colorful necklaces and earrings. They migrated to their present homeland about 200 years ago from Konso and believe in a Supreme Being creator whom they call Waq. The girls shave their heads to indicate virginity and only start to grow hair after marriage. In order to marry, a man will need to give at least 30 cattle to the bride’s family. Dinner and overnight at Buska Lodge, www.buskalodge.com
DAY ELEVEN: Turmi-Arba Minch
After breakfast, we will depart from Turmi for Arba Minch, stopping along the way for any photo opportunities that we come upon. Dinner and overnight at Paradise Lodge, www.paradiselodgeethiopia.com
DAY TWELVE: Arba Minch-Addis Ababa
After breakfast, we will have time to relax before boarding a short flight to Addis Ababa. We will dine together for our farewell dinner at a unique location, and then overnight at the Zola International Hotel. This will be the final evening of your 12 day tour of the Omo Valley.
Please Note: Some changes may occur to this itinerary, based on weather conditions or new opportunities that may arise. We are always looking to visit the locations that are off the most traveled routes of tourists. As photographers, we understand the kind of authentic experience that you are looking for.
- Addis Ababa: Zola International Hotel
- Arba Minch: Paradise Lodge
- Jinka: Eco Omo Lodge
- Turmi: Buska Lodge
TOUR FEE AND DETAILS
Please contact us directly for updated pricing information. If you prefer a single room, the single room supplement is $600.00
SUGGESTED EQUIPMENT LIST:
It is recommended that participants bring a digital SLR camera and laptop computer. A complete list of optional equipment will be sent at registration.
WHAT IS INCLUDED:
- Photography Instructors Fee
- Accommodaton x 12 nights based on Double Occupany rooms.
- (Single Room Supplement is an additional $600.00)
- Airport Transfers and ground transportation by Private AC minivan.
- Expert English speaking local guide
- All meals on itinerary days
- Cold bottled mineral water
- All admission fees to sites on the itinerary
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:
- International flights to and from Ethiopia
- Insurance: we strongly recommend you purchase Travel, Medical and Cancellation Insurance.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Personal expenses and tipping
- Visa and Passport fees
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
A nonrefundable deposit of $1200 per person is required at time of booking. We recommend you reserve your spot as soon as possible. You can pay your deposit by Bank Wire Transfer. Bank details will be provided upon registration.
The tour will be confirmed 8 weeks prior. Please do not make any travel arrangements to Ethiopia before we have confirmed the tour. Full payment is due when the tour is confirmed.
Please send us an email at email@example.com with your first and last name, your phone, which tour you are registering for, along with any additional information that you would like us to know.