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The Omo Valley Safari

Safari in Arba Minch, Konso, Jinka, Turmi

Tour Price : $799-999 Duration : 8-13 days Languages: English, France

The Omo valley is dominated mainly by many ethnic groups who speak Omotic language as classified by linguistics. The region and the people are one of the least affected by the modern world. The life style of the people has hardly changed for centuries. People still live in simple make shift huts, dress animal skins and drink from calabashes. The area is a veritable paradise for photographers and naturalists.

The people of the Omo Valley and their culture have been source of fascination for travelers. The Hammer tribes who are well known for their sense of elegance are the major ethnic group in the region. The Surma and Mursi women, who wear lip plates by piercing their lower lip, have been compelling tourists to travel to their land to see what seems impossible. In addition, the Omo valley is rich in human prehistory; archaeologists have unearthed the remains of earliest human being on earth. The area is also known for the existence of large number of wildlife of a great variety. The Konso Tribes Konso is a tribe which inhabits the area of basalt hills about 85 km to the south from Arba Minch. They speak a Cushitic language. Konso live in villages usually located on a top of a hill and surrounded by a 2 m stone wall. Konso are famous all over Ethiopia for their advanced methods of land cultivation, which include irrigation and building of terraces. Also very famous are the Konso's waqa - carved wooden monuments erected on the graves.

The Mursi Tribes The Mursi number about 5,000 and are primarily pastoralists categorized in the Nilo-Saharan language family. The Mursi are Known for their lip plate tradition; an unmarried woman's lower lip will be pierced and then progressively stretched over the period of a year. A clay disc indented like a pulley wheel is squeezed into the hole in the lip. As it stretches, ever-larger discs are forced in until the lip, now a loop, is so long it can sometimes be pulled right over the owner's head. The size of the lip plate determines the bride price, with a large one bringing in fifty head of cattle. The women make the lip plates from clay, color them with ochre and charcoal, and bake them in a fire. Stick fighting or "donga": At a fight, each contestant is armed with a hardwood pole about six feet long with a weight of just less than two pounds. In the attacking position, this pole is gripped at its base with both hands - the left above the right, in order to give maximum swing and leverage.

Each player beats his opponent with his stick as many times as possible with the intention of knocking him down and eliminating him from the game. Players are usually unmarried men. The winner is carried away on a platform of poles to a group of girls waiting at the side of the arena, who decide among themselves which of them will ask for his hand in marriage. Taking part in a stick fight is considered to be more important than winning it. The men paint their bodies with a mixture of chalk and water before the fight. The Hammer Tribe Hamer is a tribe which occupies the large territory of South Omo. They speak a language which belongs to the Omotic group of languages and display an elaborate and unique style of body decorations and clothes. Women wear leather skirts decorated with cowri shells. Their braided hair is painted with ochre, and their arms are decorated with 15 or more copper bracelets. The most important event in the Hamer society is the Bull Jumping Ceremony, the rite which marks a passage of men from one age group to another. This ceremony can be attended by tourists visiting the Hamer territory. Two principal settlements of Hamer are Dimeka and Turmi, especially colorful and interesting to visit on the market days. The Karo Tribe Karo is a small tribe of perhaps 1000 people or less. They live in the area of two small villages - Kolcho and Dus. Karo are best known for their elaborate body paintings, special for important ceremonies.

Colorful face masks are prepared using chalk, charcoal, iron ore, and yellow rock. Hairstyle of both men and women is also very unusual. Foreign tourists are always welcome to attend Karo traditional ceremonies if they are lucky to visit their villages at such times. The Dasenech Tribe The Dasenech, alternatively known as the Geleb or Galeba, Marille and Reshiat, live just north of Lake Turkana, the region where Ethiopia borders Kenya and Sudan. These names all concern the same people, in total 24.000 souls. The Dasenech are neighbored by Turkana and Bume and are Ethiopia's most southern people. The Dasenech can however be divided in eight clans. These are the Elele (ca. 6,000 people), Inkabelo (8,000), Inkoria (3,000), Koro (700), Naritch (3,000), Oro (1,000), Randal (1,000), and Ri'ele (600). Two of them (Inkabelo and Inkoria) come forth from the same ancestors: the Nyupe tribe in West-Kenya, also called the Pokot. These have more or less assimilated the Naritch (probably a splinter group of the Murle of Western Ethiopia) and the Oro. The Oro historically probably have had the dominating language and are solely responsible for the Kushite language now spoken by all Dasenech. The river people Ri'ele seem to have Borena background but have been Dasenech as time went by. The Randal are connected historically with the Rendille of Northern Kenya, whereas the Koro are related to the Maasai of Lake Turkana's west coast. Having contemplated this information it will not be hard to understand that the Dasenech aren't a united people, but more like a cluster of small groups with shared language, land, and rituals. All clans have a more or less defined territory, except for the Koro and Oro, who are semi-nomadic. The Inkabelo are the wealthiest Dasenech and occupy the best land (Oro and Koro actually travel around in Inkabelo land).

One other thing worth mentioning is that all Dasenech seem to have natural antipathy against fish. Eating fish is really a last resort in times of crises. The most important ritual of the Dasenech is the so-called dime. Taking part in the dime ritual are those men who have daughters that have already reached puberty. After the ceremony, which takes six weeks, the participants are upgraded to 'great men', or those that may engage in politics. The dime ritual is directly connected to the upcoming marriage of the daughters and consists for the larger part of slaughtering large quantities of cattle (per participant: 10 cows, 30 sheep and/or goats). By the end of the ceremony the participants are extremely well-dressed, with ostrich feathers in their clay hair, oxtails around their arms, leopard skin over their shoulders, as well as the same skirt they wore during their circumcision many years earlier. In their hands they will carry wooden shields and a stick with a fallus symbol.

The nomadic roots of the Dasenech are most clearly seen today in their traditional villages, comprised as they are of small, flimsy, domed huts strongly reminiscent of the impermanent structures built by other African desert pastoralists, from the Tuareg of the Sahara to the Nama of the Kalahari. One such village lies on the west bank of the Omo, practically opposite Omorate, and can be reached by utilizing the flat-bottomed boat that serves as a ferry across the river (police escort mandatory) Another similar village lies about 20 minutes’ walk south of the town center on the east bank of the river.

Additional information

Tour information:
Tour Price: $799-999
Duration: 8-13 days
Group Size: 4-8 tourists
Languages: English, France
Tour package includes:
Airport Transfer :YES
Hotel pick-up:YES
Drop-off :YES
Tour Transportation (car, van, limo, boat, etc…):YES
Food and Drinks :YES
Other services (fees apply):
Attraction tickets (concerts, theater, museum, circus...) :YES
Translation services :YES
Reservations (hotels, restaurants, airline) :YES
Visa support :NO
Additional information:
This tour must be booked at least 7 days in advance of your travel date :YES
Tour groups must include a minimum of 2 passengers :YES
Tour prices are flexible and based on your requirements :YES
This Tour is Kid Friendly :YES
Attractions:Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan