The “Photo Tour to the Omo Valley tribes and Lalibela” will take us to one of the wildest and most ethnically diverse places on Earth, Ethiopia.
This is a cultural photography experience during which we will interact with several tribal communities that still live almost exactly as they did hundreds of years ago. Sadly, development and the ravages of modernization are threatening these unique peoples, and as such, the Omo Valley is an ideal place to visit.
This remote place has more than ten clearly differentiated tribes, which live within a radius of 60 km, each with their own language, clothes, hairstyles and body ornaments.
At the end of this wonderful trip, we will move to the north, where we will enjoy two magnificent days in Lalileba.
This is a true photographic expedition to meet some of the most incredible tribal peoples on Earth!
Arrival in Addis Ababa, the African and Ethiopian capital.
Depending on the time of arrival, you will have time to take the guided tour of Addis Ababa for a first impression of the culture and customs of this modern African city, starting with a visit to the Ethnographic Museum and continuing with a visit to the National Museum, which houses the famous Lucy, a three and a half million year old fossil.
If time permits, the visit continues with Trinity Cathedral, where Emperor Haile Selassie is buried.
Accommodation: Hotel Golden Tulip.
In the morning, I fly to Arba Minch.
After lunch, we will head to the Dorze village in the Guge Mountains. This tribe is known for their skills with cotton and their peculiar beehive-shaped houses.
Accommodation: Haile Resort.
In the morning, we will enjoy a boat ride on Chamo Lake, in Nechisar National Park, to observe crocodiles, hippos and different species of birds.
Then we’ll go to Jinka.
Night in Jinka. Nassa Pension.
In the morning, we will visit one of the local markets (depending on the day of the week), one of the most colorful and well-known in the Omo Valley, where several tribes like the Hamer, Benna and Ari exchange food and goods.
Next, we’ll visit the Ari tribe.
In the afternoon, back in Jinka, it is convenient to visit the Jinka Museum, for a better understanding of the Omo Valley tribes.
Night in Jinka. Nassa Pension.
In the early morning, travel to Mago National Park, to visit one of Ethiopia’s most famous indigenous tribes, the Mursi.
A tribe famous for the clay lip plates that women insert into their lower lips, the Mursi are probably one of the last tribes in Africa among which it is still the norm for women to wear these large ceramic or wooden discs.
The lip plate (dhebi a tugoin) has become the main visible characteristic of the fascinating Mursi people. A girl’s lower lip is cut, usually by her mother or another woman from her settlement, when she reaches the age of 15 or 16. The cut is kept open by a wooden plug until the wound heals.
It’s up to each girl to decide how far to stretch her lip, which she does by inserting larger and larger plugs over several months. Some girls even persevere until their lips can hold plates 12 cm or more in diameter!.
The Mursi and their neighbours became part of the Ethiopian state at the end of the 19th century, when Emperor Menelik II established control over the southwestern lowlands bordering Kenya and Sudan.
The Mursi attach overwhelming cultural importance to livestock. Almost all significant social relationships, particularly marriage, are marked and authenticated through the exchange of livestock. The ‘bride’s wealth’ (ideally consisting of 38 head of cattle) is given by the groom’s family to the father of the bride, who must meet the demands of a large group of relatives from different clans. This ensures that the cattle are continually redistributed around the community, thus contributing to ensuring the long-term economic security of individuals as well as their families.
In the afternoon, we will continue to the village of Turmi stopping at the Ari’s village. The Ari are known for their colorful houses and their skills in blacksmithing and pottery. On the way we can also visit the towns of Weyto, home of the Tsemai tribe.
Accommodation: Paradise Lodge.
In the early morning, we will head to the Erbore village through the Weyto Valley, where you can visit the local market where the local tribes exchange their goods.
In the afternoon, return to Turmi to visit the Hamer tribe.
The Hamer tribe has never had centralized socio-political structures or any authority at the head of the whole Hamer society. The basic agents in Hamer politics are the donza (married men) of an area, who act collectively to make those decisions that affect the whole community. This authority of the donza is maintained even if they change their residence, which is very common with the semi-nomadic life they lead.
A symbol of their belonging to the collective of the donza is the barjo älá ,the long rod or staff that they never abandon and with which any meeting, ceremony or ritual will begin. But not all the donza have the same authority. In this one, age is an important factor; for example, in a family, the oldest married brother, the djalepha, will be the most authoritative person in the family and all will have their opinions in great consideration. It will always be his barjo älá who will preside and initiate the meetings.
At one time it seems that the Bitta or religious authorities also had more political authority than they do today.
The passage of boys from childhood or adolescence into the adult world is one of the most important moments in a young person’s life. After the ceremony in which the young man will become an ukuli, an initiate, already prepared for his passage to the state of maz, or married adult, he will receive his own boko, a kind of baton that he will always carry with him and that indicates to the whole community that he is already an ukuli.
Although nowadays young people sometimes buy their boko at the market, for any Hamer it will always be different the boko given by his father, or by a brother of his father if he had died, the day he became an ukuli.
If a young man has no adult male relatives, not an older brother, he will look for an adult in the community who has already given the boko to his own children to give him the bokoy, from that day on, that adult will become the father of the young ukuli.
When a relative dies in a family, the young man must burn his boko, because he is then considered to be a mingi, impure. So when you see a young Hamer with his boko dark or even black is a sign that in his family still live all the elders, although often the black color of the boko is not due to its age but during the ceremony of the Ukuli Bula, painted black with coal, the boko received.
The ceremony will continue the next day, but before the new ukuli passes through his main test, the “Jump of the Cows” , the young maz still single, will be requested by young marriageable women to hit them in the back with their bars and with the consequent wounds produced by these to demonstrate to their suitors their value and love for them.
The young man can now receive the k’andi zau, metal bracelets that will adorn his arms and legs. But the first zau will have to be blessed by the husband of one of his mother’s sisters. These metal zau, which married women like to wear on their arms and legs, are bought in the market. But they have to be bought by a cow, not for money, and they will receive about 25 zau in exchange for a cow. A man has to buy the rings for his father’s older sister or younger sisters. They buy them for their father’s older sister first, because if they buy them for a younger sister first, her legs could get sick and swollen. In case his aunt has died the man will give the cow to his son saying: “These are your mother’s rings.” Only after he has done this will he be able to buy rings for the younger ones but in order of age.
When a man wishes to marry he must pay a substantial dowry in head of cattle to the bride’s family and close relatives. Men may marry as many women as they wish and can, but always Hamer women. A man can be the protector of more than one family, depending on the number of wives he has, as well as accept responsibility for the security of the family of a divorced woman, a widow, or the wife and children of an absent husband, usually his brother.
The Hamers live on agriculture and livestock basically; they grow sorghum, millet, vegetables, cotton and some tobacco; they also raise flocks of sheep and goats.
Night in Turmi – Paradise Lodge.
In the morning, we will visit Omorate, where we will take a boat to cross the Omo River and meet the Dasenech, known for their body paintings, skin scarification and wigs made from bottle caps.
The Dassanech are considered one of the poorest tribes in the country. They survive by growing their crops when the rains come, care for their livestock the rest of the year and feed on the older cows in the dry season. Many of them are nomadic and live by moving the village and livestock where the weather is best. In fact, they are believed to have come from the Sudan and arrived in Ethiopia fleeing the droughts about 200 years ago.
In this dry land, survival is precarious. When the Dassanech lose their livestock to disease, drought or incursion by a neighbouring tribe, supporting the family is a very difficult task. The different members of the village help each other, it’s the only way to get by. Looking at the way they live, one realizes that everything they have is very basic: grain, some casserole, firewood and little else can be found inside the houses.
Interestingly, they have many customs similar to the Hamer: men use a kind of wooden seat they make themselves called “karaballe” to sit or rest their heads when they stretch out on the floor. On many occasions you can see men walking around with this tool that is very practical for them, they hardly ever leave it.
The Dassanech women always carry the upper part of their body naked, wear a type of foulard or brightly coloured cloth that is rolled up around the waist and they go barefoot. Their ornaments are very peculiar: most of them have small perforations under the lower lip that they decorate with some kind of showy detail, like feathers. But what surprises us most are the accessories they wear on their heads: bullet caps, zippers, plates and other items that are normally difficult to find in those parts of the world and which are therefore considered valuable and, we suppose, also beautiful.
In the afternoon, travel to Murelle to visit the Karo, famous for their unique body decorations.
The Karo have a subsistence agriculture, mainly based on sorghum, beans and corn. They complete their diet with some fishing and honey gathering. Government controls on hunting have destroyed what had been another of the Karo people’s economic resources.
Their main trade is with the Hamer, to whom they usually give up their cattle grazing in exchange for local products, and with the Dassanech. The voracity of the abundant termites in the region, often forces the Karo to constantly rebuild their homes, up to several times a year.
Like many of the Omo tribes, they paint their bodies and faces with white chalk to prepare for any ceremony. The chalk is mixed with yellow rock, red iron ore and charcoal. the color required. The masks are sometimes used and have clay. hair buns adorned with feathers.
Government authorities have long tried to eradicate the custom of abandoning newborns before marriage or children with growth defects, abandoned because they believe they will bring misfortune to the community.
Young men from the Karo tribe, before they can get married, have to go through a ceremony called Pilla, which involves jumping over a row of cows without falling, a ceremony they share with other neighbouring villages. They attach great importance to body ornamentation.
At night we may have the opportunity to see the bull jumping ceremony.
Night in Turmi – Paradise Lodge.
Today will be a day trip to the village of Kangatan crossing the Omo River and walking through the fields to visit the Nyagnaton tribe.
The Nyangatom are a small indigenous pastoralist people who live with their herds in southwest Ethiopia and southeast South Sudan in a particularly inhospitable part of the Ilemi Triangle.
Its language is one of the eastern Nilotic languages, related to the Karimojong, Jie and Teso languages of Uganda, Toposa and Turkana. These languages make up the Teso Turkana language group.
Night in Turmi – Paradise Lodge.
In the morning, we will visit the Hamer tribe before traveling to Konso. On the way, if possible, we will pass through Key Afar and visit the popular market where the Benna and Tsemai tribes exchange goods.
On the way, we will visit the fortified settlements and intricate stone terraces of Konso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In addition, this tribe is known for the Wakas, wooden figures cut from wood in honor of their heroes.
After lunch and the visit in Konso, we will go to Arba Minch to sleep.
Night in Arba Minch – Haile Resort.
After breakfast, we will travel to Awassa, where we will visit the fishing market and its surroundings. A fascinating place to observe ancient fishing practices surrounded by pelicans, marabou and other birds.
We will walk through the adjacent park, which has century-old trees where the monkeys are sure to entertain you.
We will continue to Langano, the only lake in the Rift Valley where it is possible to enjoy a swim.
We’ll enjoy the rest of the afternoon on the beach.
Night in Langano – Sabanah Beach Resort
In the morning, we will head to Addis Ababa and stop at Debre Zeigt, for lunch on the shores of one of the resorts on the edge of one of the ancient volcanoes now converted into lakes.
We will have the afternoon free to rest or take a guided tour in Addis Ababa.
Accommodation : Hotel Golden Tulip.
Fly to Lalibela in the morning.
After checking in at the hotel and having lunch, we will start the visit to the famous rock-hewn churches, starting with the northwest group: Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Danaghel, Bet Mikael and Bet Golgotha.
We will end the day with a dinner, while enjoying a sunset over the Lasta mountains.
Accommodation: Maribela Hotel.
In the morning, we will go to the monastery of Genet Maryam, located about 35 km outside Lalibela.
This monolithic monastery is located near the source of the Tekaze River and what makes it unique is that it is excavated on a hill that is visible and not hidden like the other buildings.
In the afternoon, we will continue with the visit of the group of churches in the southeast: Bet Gabriel-Rufael, Bet Merkorios, Bet Amanuel, and Bet Abba Libanos.
Finally, we will visit what is undoubtedly the most famous church in Ethiopia in honor of the country’s patron saint: St. George.
Accommodation. Maribela Hotel.
PIn the morning, we will visit Neakutolab Monastery, before the transfer to the airport to return to Addis Ababa.
In the afternoon, we’ll have time to do some last minute shopping in the Ethiopian capital.
Transfer to the airport.
End of the trip
The price of the photographic trip to Ethiopia is 3.895,00€ per person, full board (except in Addis Ababa) and shared double room.
Supplement for single room: 500,00€
Tfno: +34 609822774
Or by filling out the form on the right.
Tours organized by:
Namaste Photo Services OÜ
License No. : TRE000957
+34 609822774 / +372 81369897
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