Located in the far south west of Ethiopia in the accessible Omo valley live the 25,000 strong Hamar tribe. The Hamar or Hamer tribe are agro pastoralists, this means that they grow crops and keep livestock, but they place particularly high value on cattle. They are an extraordinary people with a unique expression and culture, and this is why a visit to the Omo Valley is a must for photographers.
Epic Photo Tours are leading an expedition to the Omo Valley in January 2017 with Trevor Cole, the winner of the travel/scenic category in Africa Geographic’s 2015 Photographer of the Year competition, where we will spend time with the Hamer people in their huts, villages and markets and experience their culture first hand. Two spots still remain on this bespoke trip where all you need to do is set your aperture and immerse yourself in this friendly culture
During the photography trip you will be privy to some of the Hamer people’s unique culture and customs, one of them being their bull jumping ceremony, marking a rite of passage for men and initiating boys into manhood.
The ceremony begins with all the female relatives performing a dance, offering themselves as subjects to be whipped by men who have recently been initiated; this shows their support of the initiate, and their scars give them a right to demand his help in time of need.
The man must then jump over eight bulls in order to be allowed to marry and once that is achieved a celebration is held to end this communal event.
On this photography intensive trip you will experience how the Hamer people live, in an arrangement of camps that consist of several related families. The families live in tents arranged in a circle, and the cattle are brought into the centre of the camp at night. The structures are covered with thatch during the dry season and canvas mats during the rainy season. Herds belonging to the Hamer consist mainly of cattle, although there are some sheep and goats too. Most Hamer farmers plant fields of sorghum at the beginning of the rainy season however the crops are usually left unattended and the yields are low.
The Hamer men have many striking characteristics, one particularly noticeable is their elaborate hair-dressing. They wear a clay “cap” that is painted and decorated with feathers and other ornaments.
The Hamer Men may marry as many women as they like, but only within their own tribe. A “bride price” of cattle and other goods is provided by the prospective husband and his near relatives to the family of the bride.
Many elements of their traditional religion are still practiced today. For instance, they believe that natural objects such as rocks and trees have spirits.
We hope we have inspired you to visit this remarkable country and experience the unique people and cultures of the Omo Valley tribes.
All photographs taken by Trevor Cole who led numerous trips to the Omo Valley and resided in Ethiopia for five years.
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