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Ethiopia’s Omo Valley and tribes


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Wedged into Africa’s Great Rift Valley, well beyond the tarmac and in the deep southern reaches of Ethiopia, lies the Omo Valley – an epicentre of ethnic, tribal and cultural diversity that has been spared modernisation and still nurtures ancestral values such as pride, honour and self-determination to become who they were born to be.

Witness the most phenomenal collection of body paint designs, hairstyles, scarification patterns, jewellery, pottery, clothing, singing, dancing, games, ornate appliances and utensils – all created purely for fun and to outdo their fellow tribesmen.

NOTE that all encounters with local people on this tour have been agreed to by the relevant community members and are entirely respectful of local traditions and cultural norms.

Enjoy the ethnic, tribal and cultural diversity of Ethiopia's Omo Valley


Length: 8 days / 7 nights
Group Size: 2 - 6
Location: Ethiopia
Departure Dates: To suit you

from US$ 2,840 per person sharing (8 days)

Prices and dates

If flying into Addis with national carrier Ethiopian Airlines 2024

Number of travellers

Cost per person sharing


US$ 6,400


US$ 3,865


US$ 3,415


US$ 2,840

If NOT flying into Addis with national carrier Ethiopian Airlines 2024

Number of travellers

Cost per person sharing


US$ 6,565


US$ 4,030


US$ 3,580


US$ 3,005

Single Supplement: $395

Price Includes:
Meet-and-greet in Addis Ababa and all transfers to and from Addis Ababa airport. All accommodation on a twin room sharing basis, all meals out of Addis and only breakfast in Addis Ababa, domestic flights (cost based on International flight into Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines, see costs for flight supplement). All ground transportation using a 4WD, driver and full costs. All entrance fees and access to reserves, markets, villages, homesteads and museums mentioned in the itinerary. Boat hire. Professional English-speaking guide. Portage and all local guides fees, bottled mineral water (1lt pp per day other than the non-alcoholic beverage served during each meal), government taxes and levies. 24/7 office support

Price Excludes:
International flights, lunch and dinners in Addis Ababa, any alcoholic drinks, visas, covid tests, items of personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, travel and medical Insurance, tips, excess baggage charges, and any activities not specified in the itinerary.

Isolated for centuries, a wealth of tribes such as the Arbore, Ari, Bena, Bodi, Bumi, Daasanech (Geleb), Dorze, Hamer (Hamar), Kara (or Karo), Konso, Kwegu (or Muguji), Mursi, Tsemay, and Turkana, have all safeguarded and retained their customs and traditions that define their identity and aids their survival in one of Africa’s most remote and difficult environments.

Over 200,000 tribal members depend on the annual flooding of the Omo River and ancient practices such as ‘flood retreat cultivation’ to cash in on the riches of silt deposited along riverbanks by slow-receding waters. They grow sorghum, maize and beans, supplemented by hunting and fishing. Cattle, goats and sheep are the lifelines of most tribes – providing blood, milk, meat and leather, as well as vital currency for trading, bartering, communicating with their ancestors and essential for a wealth of social contracts, rites and engagements.

Join this expedition to the heart of the Omo region and become one of the few travellers privileged enough to witness the raw intrigue of these ornate tribes and gain an understanding of their age-old customs and rituals, intricate symbolism and beliefs.


WELCOME to Ethiopia!!

On arrival, you will be met by an Africa Geographic representative for transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Addis Ababa.

After breakfast, you will be taken back to the airport for your flight to Arba Minch, where your driver/guide will be waiting to whisk you off to Chencha to visit the Dorze people, who are known for their weaving skills and traditions, all of which are well reflected in their beautiful cotton clothes, extensive use of jewels ranging from pen caps to watch bands, home fences, and beehive-shaped bamboo huts. Overnight in Arba Minch

This morning we have an amazing boat trip on Lake Chamo, hugging the shoreline and enjoying some early morning birding and game viewing, as animals visit the shoreline – including some rather impressive Nile crocodiles.

You will then head for Turmi before noon and visit several Erbore villages en route. Overnight in Turmi

In the morning, you will make an excursion trip to Murulle – the village of the Karo people. This is one of the smallest tribes; known for their body paintings which they indulge in before important ceremonies. The most striking thing about the Karo people’s symbolic and ornamental expressions is the painted body and face decorations.

The application is an elaborate process, which ranges from fine and elaborate details to striking paintings traced with the palms or fingers. The most beautiful forms of this expression are in the facial and chest paintings that combine white (chalk), black (charcoal), yellow, ochre, and red earth. They often imitate the spotted plumage of a guineafowl. Karo woman also scarify their chests to beautify themselves.

The complete scarification of a man’s chest indicates that he has killed an enemy or a dangerous animal. These scars are cut with a knife or razor blade, and ash is rubbed in to produce a raised effect. Similarly, the wearing of a grey and ochre clay hair bun also indicates the killing of an enemy or a dangerous animal. We also visit Dus, a typical settlement with an open public meeting arena and dancing place. The people here have shelters called shuppa, where they pass the hottest hours of the day playing a Karo board game called Warre.

Many such activities will be sought out and enjoyed with your guide, who will introduce you in the least invasive and polite manner to the everyday lifestyle and traditions of the Karo. Overnight in Turmi

Today we make a excursion to Omorate, crossing the Omo River by boat to visit the Dasenech people who are known for their body scarification practices.

In the afternoon, we will visit the weekly market of the Hamer people at Turmi.

Hamer women are known particularly for their striking, adorned, thickly plaited ochre-coloured hair hanging down in a heavy fringe. They also wear leather skirts decorated with cowrie shells, a dozen or more copper bracelets fixed tightly around their arms, soft skin and harsh faces. The men are noted and best known for the initiation ceremony or Jumping of the Bulls tradition.

Catching this interesting ritual is entirely a matter of chance, there is no telling if one will happen when we are there and whether we would be allowed to attend. Overnight in Turmi

A bit of a driving day. After breakfast you will drive to Jinka, stopping en route at any interesting gatherings or clusters of working people that may be doing something unusual or interesting. Your guide will be the best judge of that. The aim is to reach the vibrant and bustling Dimeka market by noon, which usually throngs with several different tribes selling their produce and wares to each other.

Further on, at Jinka, we will visit the Cultural Museum of the Omo valley for its fascinating displays and information about the tribes in the Jinka area. Overnight in Jinka

Today you enjoy an excursion to Mago National Park to visit the most famous people of the Omo Valley – the Mursi people. Mursi women are well known for the clay lip plates they insert into their lower lips. A full morning will be spent with this tribe, photographing and learning about them as much as you can.

Whenever you deem fit, you can drive back to Jinka, and have a free afternoon or set out to explore other aspects of Mago National Park. Overnight in Jinka

Today we start our return towards Arba Minch, and drive through to Key Afer, stopping enroute at the weekly and very interesting market of the Ari, Benna and Tsemai tribes.

You will then proceed to Konso and visit a typical Konso village, which has recently been registered as the 9th UNESCO World heritage site in Ethiopia. The Konso people are noted for their rock terracing and colourful hand woven cotton clothes. Overnight in Konso

After breakfast you will visit Gesergio, one of the walled villages of Konso. This village is of interest primarily because of the adjacent sand pinnacles sculpted by occasional water flow in a normally dry gorge. It is a magnificent and very unusual natural phenomenon. No one can tell when the formation commenced or will end.

After your visit, you will proceed to Arba Minch for lunch and later transfer to the airport for your flight back to Addis Ababa.

On arrival in Addis Ababa, ground staff will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. In the evening, you will be invited to a farewell dinner party at one of the best traditional restaurants in Addis Ababa, where you will have a chance to taste a variety of Ethiopian meals and watch the folkloric dancers and music diversity of Ethiopia as your trip to Abyssinia comes to an end. Overnight in Addis Ababa

After breakfast you will be transferred to Bole International airport for your departing flights.

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