The Omo Valley “the unique wilderness”
The Omo Valley, in the south of Ethiopia, is home to a fascinating range of distinct tribal groups, isolated from the rest of the world for centuries and still very much following their own cultures and customs. On this trip we set off using 4WD transport to explore this intriguing region, stopping at local markets and visiting villages, driving past the lakes of Africa’s Great Rift Valley and looking for the wealth of wildlife that this little-explored region contains. Travel here is not for the faint-hearted – but one of the most exciting experiences that the continent offers. ‘Off the beaten track’ doesn’t even come close!
The Lower Omo is home to a remarkable mix of small, contrasting ethnic groups not only theBume and Konso, but also the Gelebe, the Bodi, the Mursi, the Surma, the Arbore, and the Hamer,to name but a few. Lifestyles are as varied as the tribes themselves. Lacking any material, culture andartifacts common to other cultures, these tribes find unique ways in which to express their artistic impulses. Both the Surma and the Karo, for example, are experts at body painting, using clays and locally available vegetable pigments to trace fantastic patterns on each other’s faces, chests, arms, and legs. These designs are created purely for fun and aesthetic effect, each artist vying to outdo his fellows.