Photography Expedition to the Tribes of the Omo Valley — 11 Days
- Tour Type: Photographic Tour
- Limited To: 8 Guests
- Duration: 11 Days
- Price: on request
This is a small group photographic expedition to the remote tribes of the Omo Valley to witness some of the last remaining authentic tribes on the African continent.
Isolated for millennia from the rest of the world, the beautiful Omo Valley is home to an exciting mix of many small and distinctive tribal groups. Amongst others, we find the Karo, the Mursi and the Hamer — all of whom have retained their own unique customs and traditions. Lifestyles are as varied as the tribes themselves. Lacking any material, culture and artifacts common to other cultures, these tribes find unique ways in which to express their artistic impulses. Arbore women are well known for their long headdresses. The girls shave their heads to indicate virginity, and only start growing hair after marriage. The Desanech are a semi-nomadic tribe living on the shore of Omo. Their clans stretch across Sudan, Kenya and Southern Ethiopia. They are known for their very unique and ornate hair buns. Both the Surma and the Karo, for example, are experts at body painting, using clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on each other's faces, chests, arms, and legs. These designs are created purely for fun and aesthetic effect, each artist vying to outdo his fellows.
This photographic expedition will take you on the east side of the Omo River. On this photo trip you will visit the Konso, Hamer, Karo, and Nyangatom tribes. You will spend a couple of days visiting their villages and intermingling with the different tribes, learning their lifestyle, attending ceremonies and rituals, and taking photos. There will be enough time with good light on different days to photograph their day-to-day activities of body and face painting, herding cattle, farming, and more.
Being isolated from the fast-moving world because of its remote location for thousands of years, the Omo Valley is truly heaven for anthropologists and photographers looking for a unique photography opportunity in a lesser-known and seldom-photographed region.
This tour will be lead by our experienced A-rated friendly guides who have lead many photography tours to the Omo Valley. They know each and every village really well and will guide you on the best times and places to be. They have an immense knowledge of the tribes you will be visiting, their culture, and how to deal with them.
Our drivers are well trained and well travelled in the challenging Omo Valley area. They know the terrain and the valleys you will be traveling in well. They always make sure you are comfortable and safe. They have been rated excellent by many travelers who have been on the road with them for long periods of time.
We will primarily be using comfortable 4x4s on the tour. There will be one domestic flight from Addis Ababa to Arba Minch.
On this trip, you will be staying in a 4-star hotel in Addis Ababa and the best-available lodges in Turmi. In Dus, we will have a comfortable mobile camp with canvas tents that will be waiting for us ready when we arrive. We will also have our cooks ready for this part of the trip. There will be electric power to charge our batteries as well as a shower and toilet in the mobile tented camp.
Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa
Arrive at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Welcome to Ethiopia. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by your local tour leader and transfered to Golden Tulip Hotel.
Addis Ababa, founded in 1886 by Menelik II, is situated at 2,500 meters (8000 ft.) above sea level. It is the 5th highest capital city in the world. The city enjoys an excellent climate year-round, with an average temperature of 25C (77F). Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of jacarandas, interesting museums, and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as the Mercato.
For the rest of the day, relax in your comfortable hotel and get ready for the unique adventure awaiting.
Overnight: Golden Tulip Hotel, Addis Ababa
Day 2: Addis Ababa, Arba Minch (B, L, D)
We will have a nice breakfast in the morning and then have a pre-tour briefing of useful information before we head out to the Omo Valley, one of the most remote places on the planet.
After the pre-tour briefing, we transfer to Addis Ababa Airport for our 40-minute flight to Arba Minch.
Upon arrival at Arba Minch Airport, you will meet your driver for the drive north to the mountain village of Chencha, located on the southwestern escarpment of the Great Rift Valley running north to south all the way to Mozambique. This is the home of the Dorze people. Once famous warriors in the region, the Dorze are now renowned cotton weavers whose tall beehive-shaped and bamboo-woven dwellings are among the most distinctive structures to be seen anywhere in Africa.
Our visit to this village and the unique cultural experience is a good way to ease into the tribal experience awaiting us in the Omo Valley. As the sun goes down, we will drive back to Arba Minch enjoying the beautiful view of the sunset and the cattle herds as they come back from day-long grazing in the fields.
Overnight: Paradise Lodge, Arba Minch
Days 3–5: Arba Minch, Turmi (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will continue driving further southwest to the Omo Valley through many tribal villages and small towns including the Tsemay and Konso.
Our last destination for today is Turmi, home to the beautiful nomadic Hamer tribe living on the side of Keske River. The Hamer display an elaborate and diverse selection of body decorations. They are also identifiable for their high cheekbones and elaborate custom of beads, cowries, leather, and thick copper necklaces. The Hamer women are striking with their colorful beaded skins, ornate necklaces, and metal bangles around their wrists and ankles. We hope to arrive at the lodge for late lunch and be in time to visit Hamer village with good light for photography.
For the next three nights, we will be based here at Turmi Village, the center of the Hamer Tribes and other tribes living in the surrounding area. This will give us a great chance to attend different rituals including, Evangadi and the Bull Jumping Ceremonies in some of the off-road tribal villages. Our base here will allow us to be flexible and capitalize on all the wonderful photographic opportunities in the area. During our stay in Turmi, we will visit the Arbore and Desanech tribes.
Overnight: Buska Lodge
Days 6–9: Karo, Dus (B, L, D)
This morning, we will have a chance for one final photoshoot with the Hamer before we continue our drive to the Kara tribe residing on the shore of the Omo River. The Kara are the masters in body and face painting, which they practice on a daily basis. Before their rituals and dances, they carefully paint their faces and body, as well as the faces of their friends, using different colored soil, minerals, plant pigments, and flowers, and white chalk and black charcoal. The men are mostly well decorated with red clay hair buns, prepared for days to be ready for the event.
For the next couple of days, you will have the chance to mingle with Kara and spend quality time with them, learning about their daily activities including attending different rituals, follow them as they herd their cattle, do farming.
Our mobile tent will be set up along the shore of Omo River as we will make Dus our village for the next 3 days. This will help us to get very close to the Karo tribes.
Overnight: Mobile camping
Day 9: Dus, Konso (B, L, D)
Today we leave this exceptional region to go to Konso. The Konso are famous for their old and unique terracing (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and unusual engraved wooden statues of Konso grave markers. The villages are protected with huge stone walls.
Day 10: Konso, Langano (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we drive north to beautiful Lake Langano. On the way, we will stop at different villages. Later in the afternoon you can relax on the beach (bilharzia free) and enjoy the birds at the lake.
Day 11: Langano, Addis Ababa (B, L, D)
The morning is free for leisure. After lunch, we drive back to Addis Ababa. Depending on the flight schedule, a farewell dinner with local specialties and cultural dances can be organized. Transfer to airport. End of tour.
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Rates on request
Group size: 4–8
- Roundtrip as per program
- 4x4 transport with AC
- All necessary transfers
- 7 nights accommodation in good hotels and lodges (4-star in Addis Ababa) in double rooms
- 3 nights camping (bring your own light sleeping bag)
- All meals as stated in the program
- All entrance fees
- English-speaking, qualified, national tour guide
- Farewell dinner (flight schedule permitting)
- Photo fees
- Visa fees
- Meals not stated in the program
- All expenses of a personal nature (drinks, laundry, phone calls, etc.)
- Domestic flights
The tour begins and ends in Addis Ababa. You may need to included an extra day or two for flights to and from Addis Ababa.