Klaserie River Sands

Photographing tribes of the Omo Valley

Trevor Cole, Winner of the travel/scenic category in Africa Geographic’s Photographer of The Year 2016, will be leading a 12 day photography tour to the lower Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia in January 2017. Trevor resided in Ethiopia for four years and knows the Omo well. He will be partnering with Epic Photo Tours who have been organising all inclusive photo intensive tours to visit the tribes since 2007.

Travelling three per Land Cruiser, with the best local guides and staying at the most comfortable lodges, this trip is geared towards photographers at all levels. Part of your trip fee will be donated to Omo Child, an NGO which is working to abolish ritual infanticide. Cultural immersion is what this trip is about.

Colours of a tribe

Hamar boys ©Trevor Cole

What makes an expedition to the Omo Valley, which is a quick one hour flight from Addis Ababa, unique is the sense of wonderment found by all. Kids are always observing you, for many it is their first exposure to a foreign culture.

Image 1 - A certain arrogance

Omo girl – Suri tribe ©Trevor Cole

The Hamar, Kara, Mursi and Suri all use body paint derived from clays, which are found in the tropical soils. They paint themselves as a form of camouflage when hunting, or as decoration at special ceremonies, festivals and when outsiders visit. They also wear very distinctive beads and jewellery made from recycled materials – batteries, watch chains, bottle tops are but some of the examples.

Image 5 - Tribal paintwork

Tribal paintwork ©Trevor Cole

The women of the Mursi tribe wear lip plates. They grind millet while their men tend to the goats. The Mursi live in Mago National Park and reside in thatched huts, cook by fire and are known for their ability to adapt to their harsh environment.

Image 4 - Our makeup!

Style ©Trevor Cole

The kids paint their faces to express their individuality. On an Epic Photo Tours trip we donate bags of food and medical supplies. It is our way of thanking them for allowing us to photograph them.

Posing Suri girls

Suri girl’s adornment ©Trevor Cole

Just the two of us

Lip pates ©Trevor Cole

The women of the Mursi and Suri have very distinctive lip plates and several tribes use butter and ochre on their hair as a form of adornment. They are nomadic pastoralists living their lives in a relatively lush savanna region. The Omo Valley is well known for its diversity of tribal peoples.

Celebration of Hamar

Celebration of Hamar ©Trevor Cole

On a photo trip to the Omo Valley we may have the opportunity to photograph the Hamar bull jumping ceremony. A rite of passage that begins with the girls blowing horns and dancing.

The boys in town

The boys in town ©Trevor Cole

Market day is a time when the tribes come together to gossip, strut their stuff, share news and buy foodstuffs – it is a mosaic of colours, sounds and joy.

Omo 1874

Suri fun ©Trevor Cole

Along the road it is always a joy to meet and greet the tribes as they jump into the river to cool off. Prior to marriage the girls shave each other’s heads in artistic patterns.

Looking at myself

Looking at myself ©Trevor Cole

Kids are all around and photographic opportunities exist everywhere.

My indulgence

Anindulgence ©Trevor Cole

The women of the Dorze tribe harvest tobacco and love to light up their home made pipes. Photographing them in their homes, villages and markets yields exhibition quality images.

Find out more about joining Trevor on this epic photographic adventure here.

Epic Photo Tours

Epic Photo Tours connects the discerning photographer to a more authentic and deeper photographic/travel experience around the globe. In the Omo Valley, Ethiopia we will photograph the painted, pierced, lip plate wearing, body adorned tribal people in their villages, markets and huts. Our lodging, guides and drivers are top level.

Jacis Lodges
Black Rhino
Africa Geographic