Tribes of the Omo Valley, Ethiopia - October 7 - 17, 2020
Located in the far southwest of Ethiopia is the Omo Delta, one of the last great tribal regions left in the world. Living in this remote but 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 has remained intact. Some 45 different languages are spoken, and tribes range from the many thousand strong Borena to the smaller Karo Tribe. . To anthropologists, the Omo Valley is a living museum; to photographers the Omo Valley is a visually breathtaking experience.
Seven distinct groups of people live in this area. The Mursi are known for the clay lip plates that the women insert in their lower lips. The Hamar women wear thick copper necklaces, have braided hairstyles colored with red clay,and have high cheekbones. The Karo are highly decorated with chalk. The Konso are pastoralists and weavers. Visually stunning landscapes will be travelled through, 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, scenic shots as well as the opportunity to enhance one's compositional skills. Until the 1970s, these tribes had no contact with the outside world and now you have the opportunity to know them. Traveling three photographers per Land Cruiser, eating the local food and staying at local accommodations makes for a special experience.
Day 1- Wednesday October 7 th: Addis Ababa
Upon arrival at the airport you will be driven to the hotel which is 15 minutes away. The hotel has internet, a nice lounge area, good restaurant, wonderful staff, a money exchange and is a comfortable place to start the trip. The group will have a meet and greet dinner that evening . O/N Jupiter Hotel
Day 2 - Thursday, October 8th: Jinka
We will take the 11:40 am flight to Jinka arriving at 1:00pm. The afternoon will be spent walking the packed village lanes of the Aari village. These very rural people are friendly, some homes are brightly painted, they do pottery, grow sorghum and daily life is easily photographed.. Chickens in the yards, kids wanting to hold your hands, women cooking by fire all make for a great introduction to the Omo Valley. These people are not painted , pierced nor decorated but an excellent representation of rural southern Ethiopia. Past photography groups have visited the school and donated school supplies. The classrooms are visually compelling and great to document. We will walk up the main road visiting the houses and meeting the people. We will be spending the night in the Eco Omo Lodge which is on the banks of the river where people bathe, clothing gets washed and cars get cleaned. O/N Eco Omo Lodge
Day 3 - Friday, October 9th : Jinka
Early morning we will take the two hour ride through Mago National Park to reach a Mursi village. As they are nomadic it is impossible to name the settlement we will visit. The women wear circular clay lip plates, the men are garbed in large towel like wraps. Photographing women grinding sorghum and breast feeding while making their morning coffee which they drink out of gourds is possible. Our local guides handle the photo fee payments so you can shoot with abandon. For protein the men bleed a bull in the early morning and drink its blood. The homes are thatched straw and sticks ,and these people are illiterate and their traditions are very much intact.many of the men have body adornments. A sense of humor is needed to fully appreciate the Mursi photographic experience.
The afternoon will be spent wandering the dirt street and markets of Jinka. The market is colorful and vibrant with many bars, stores selling plastic woven baskets, and day to day items. Splitting into small groups a guide will help you with translation, setting up shots if desired and see to it that you can photograph freely.
Lodging once again will be at the Eco Omo Lodge which has a patio where the group can have cold beer or hot coffee after this long day.
O/N Eco-Omo Lodge
Day 4 - Saturday, October 10th : Turmi
After a late breakfast we will drive to Turmi our next location. The group will stop in Dimeka to shoot the lively market where the Hamer tribe come to shop for honey, chickens, soap, razor blades, clothing and the young people come to gossip and get together. The crafts market is excellent and bargaining is the norm.
We will have a break for lunch and then proceed onward. In the afternoon we will visit a local hamer village which is a short walk from our beautiful and new lodge. We will shoot goats returning from pasture, kids milking them, women in front of their huts grinding sorghum and the end ending. The Hamer women have high cheek bones, wear thick coper necklaces which indicate first or second wife status and elaborate goatskin and beads. The Hamer people are friendly, outgoing and easily to engage and photograph. If time permits we shoot silhouettes which is always a photo trip favorite activity.
Day 5 Sunday, October 11 th : Turmi
Starting off from Turmi at 4:30 Am we will be heading to Kangaten, home to the Nyangatom tribe that historically are said to be a split group from the Toposa tribe of South Sudan. Settled on the other side of the Omo River, we will be crossing the Omo River where we will be able to access and visit remote tribal villages. The teenage boys are lively and like to play much of the day. The women are topless and wear many strands of heavy beads, the girls are playful and love to have their images taken. Mid-afternoon, we will return to Turmi where we will be spending another night at the Paradise Lodge. We can also photograph the Hamer tribe digging for water, smoking out bees or do another local village sunset shoot. O/N Paradise Lodge
Day 6 - Monday, October 12th: Turmi
This being Monday we will attend the Turmi market. The Hamer people will be selling honey, snuff, foodstuffs and local wares. The group will be be split up and wander freely shooting the many stalls. Of note the stores have some artistic designs and the crafts market is the best in the Omo. The grain mills are amazing and many stores are great backdrops for street photography.
The ritualistic bull jumping ceremony usually takes place on Monday. The women dance, the bells on their ankles making a distinctive noise that blends in with the bugles they blow. The age group (16-25) of men called Maza whip the women as a sign of devotion a as they will be responsible for the women as they grow old. 8 bulls are lined up and the nude guy will run across them numerous times. Once completed he is able to marry. O/N Paradise Lodge
Day 7 - Tuessday, October 13th : Turmi - Omorate-Turmi
Departing Turmi at 5:00AM, we will be heading to Omorate, home of the Dassanach tribe who are said to be descendants of the Turkana tribe in North Kenya. Like many of these tribal groups they use chain links and other western ‘cast offs’ as decorative objects. Crossing the newly constructed Omo River bridge and driving further for 12kms, we will be able to photograph a remote Dassanach tribal village, just 11kms from the shores of Lake Turkana. We will photograph the women cooking by fire, grinding corn meal and the men with their flock. We will try to continue further south to Lake Turkana to see and photograph the small wooden fishing boats and Dassanch people. O/N Paradise Lodge
Day 8 - Wednesday, October 14th: Turmi-Kangatan-Turmi
Proceeding further into the scenic Weito lowlands, we will be visiting an Arbore tribal village located at the northern edge of Mount Buska. The Arbore women are absolutely stunning, they have extremely dark skin and strong features. Prior to marriage the women have their heads shaved. They wear dark robes, colorful beads and their huts are fabricated from tree branches. We will work on our portraiture skills in this village. Afternoon will be photo review with Tonya back in the Paradise Lodge. Massage may be possible for those that desire it at an additional cost.
Day 9 - Thursday, October 15th : Turmi-Dus-Turmi
Departing Turmi at 5:00 AM, our photography group will head to Dus,the friendliest villages of the Kara tribe. Settled on the banks of the Omo River, this tribe is known for their creative and decorative body chalk painting. Many of he Kara women have pierced lips and insert nails and pins. Photographing on the bank of the Omo River can yield images of the kids diving into the water The group will shoot a cattle and goat drive which is iconic. Dust swirling, men with guns and long herders stick driving their herd to the water. The group will photograph the ceremonial, communal dance performed by the people of Dus.
.Epic Photo Tours will be donating bags of grain and the dance is how they say thank you. We have a special relationship and they will invite us intot heir huts for coffee to be had out if a gourd. The Kara of Dus pride themselves as the best dancers in the Omo. We will also photograph these warm and inviting people on the banks of the Omo and in the shade, under the large umbrella like trees. We will be bringing a picnic breakfast and lunch with us. O/N Paradise Lodge in Turmi.
Day 10- Friday, October 16th: Addis Ababa
Today we will fly back to Addis Ababa from the Jinka airport. The group will return to Addis at 2:30 in the afternoon Those leaving on late night flights will be driven to the airport. Farewell dinner will be in the hotel or at our favorite Mediteranean restaurant which is walking distance from the hotel.
O/N Jupiter Hotel
Day 11 -Saturday, October 17th: Addis Ababa- Homeward Bound
Transportation to the airport provided.
Visit Ethiopia and photograph the lip plate wearing Mursi Tribe and visit them in the Mago National Park.
Shoot the Hamar bull jumping ceremony. A truly unique cultural event.
Visit the Kara Tribe who paint their bodies with chalk. Photograph this friendly tribe.
Photograph the Arbore Tribe. The women wear black shawls and colorful beads.
$7,800 if not flying on Ethiopian Airlines
Single supplement $160
Group Size: 7
3 spots open
2 internal flights
All photography fees
All meals/cold drinks/coffee/water
Couples: $200 discount per person