A visit to the Omo Valley
The Omo Valley is located in the southern part of Ethiopia and it is one of the few regions in the country that is filled with a sub Saharan touch and tropical feel in Ethiopia. The border of Kenya is just 30 kilometers away from Ethiopia and it is believed that the current population in the Omo valley migrated from Kenya due to the fact that they used to travel in between the two countries when moving with their animals in search of water and food.
The Omo valley is one place in Ethiopia where you get to see the numerous things that you might not find anywhere else in the country. The beauty about visiting this place is that it is extremely secure to visit and you will have a tour guide with you all the time and they will help you when it comes to translations, keeping you safe since most of them are licensed to carry guns and explain all the things that you might not understand.
As earlier on mentioned there are several things that make the Omo valley a paradise that you should visit and this is why we are here to make your trip memorable. We will help you organize a trip to the Omo valley by providing you with the best itineraries so that you get to enjoy your stay without worry. Below are some of the experiences that you will have when you visit the Omo valley in Ethiopia.
Cultural experience in the Omo valley
The Omo Valley has several groups of people who are live in the Omo valley and these give it the uniqueness especially when it comes to cultural practices, religion, dress code, rituals and other practices that will make your trip to the valley memorable. Some of the tribes that you will find when you visit the Omo valley include:
- The Daasanach people
These are the smallest ethnic group of people that live in the Omo valley along the banks of the River Omo. These live in houses that can easily be folded or collapsed and re built in a matter of minutes.
- The Konso tribe
The Konso people and their stone walled village are considered to be a good tourist attraction and they have declared a UNESCO heritage. Their stone walls are a legend that you would not want to miss to see. The way that the Konso people live dates back to the old times and you might also get used to their way of life if you stay there for some time. It might get a bit crowded especially during the peak season but you can still enjoy your stay with the locals and enjoy their folk stories that are normally told by the elders to the young ones especially in the evenings around a fire.
- The Harmer people
The Harmer people live in the Omo valley and are commonly known for their uniqueness especially with the women. They always stain their hair with red clay after braiding it and this makes them more attractive to the men. And as for men before they are considered to be fully grown or what is considered to be their transition from young to adulthood, they have to participate in the bull jumping ceremony and if you pass it successfully then you are allowed to marry any woman of your choice.
- The Karo people
The Karo people also live in the Omo Valley on the Eastern side of the Omo River and these are commonly known for their incredible body paint that they use to decorate their bodies and you can freely join them and get yourself a body paint. The paint can easily be removed and therefore you do not need to worry about it staining your skin. When you visit the Karo tribe, accommodation is nearby that is the Emerald lodge which offers all the necessities that are needed when it comes to accommodation facilities.
- The Mursi People
The Mursi people have the same ways of living as the Masai who live in Kenya. Their practices might seem barbaric to the outside person but to them it is a sign of beauty especially for the women. The women start wearing plates in their lips when they are young and these elongate their lips to the size of the plates and they also do the same to their ears. Everyone woman who does this is considered a great beauty in the community.
The landscape found in the village where the Mursi people live is extremely photogenic and this has made it a top destination in the Omo valley. Due to the high number of tourists in the area some people stay for a short time but others embrace the chaos and have fun with the locals.
- The Banna ethnic group
The Banna people are majorly known for their entrepreneur skills and these run the largest markets in the Omo valley. If you want to know more about how to make money and probably get more skills then this is the right place to visit in Ethiopia.
- Visit the Dorze tribe
The Dorze tribe also stays in the Omo valley in a village known as the chencha. The Dorze people live in houses that are constructed in a way that they look like bee hives, you get to taste their good food and learn about their different techniques that are used when weaving cotton. And even after the change that is happening around the Dorze community, it still has that ancient look that you do not want to miss experiencing.
- Go for a boat cruise on the Chamo Lake
The Chamo Lake is the third largest lake in Ethiopia and it is located in the Great Rift Valley in the Omo valley. It is located near the Nechisar national park and there are various activities that you can carry out when you visit the Chamo Lake and these include boat riding, birding due to the presence of the different birds both endemic and those that migrate into the country, the different wild life animals which include hippos, crocodiles and many more others, go for a hike in the nearby Nechisar National park and also relax on the shores of the Lake.
Besides the above ethnic groups, there are also some smaller sections of people who live in the place and these include the Tsemay ethnic group, the Ari ethnic group and the Dorze ethnic group and all these live comfortably together and their unique culture is a sight that you do not want to miss.
Things To Do in Omo Valley Ethiopia
Hiking in the Omo valley is done in the Nechisar National park that is located in the Omo valley. The word Nechisar is separated into two that is Nech means white whereas Sar means grass. The hike can be done in a few hours and it is done through the park where you get to see the different animals that habitate in the park and you can enjoy a picnic in the hills after the completion of your trek. A trained and licensed tour guide with a gun will be there to offer protection against the animals and other attacks and hikes can also be done on the Bales Mountain which is also located in the Omo valley.
Explore the Jinka area
The Jinka area is commonly known for the large market which normally takes place on Saturdays and it is filled with a lot of traditional Ethiopian produce which you purchase as souvenirs. From the market you can also visit the museum where different things are put on display that show the different traditional practices of the different ethnic groups and from the museum you get to enjoy the sunset as you walk through the village.
Visit the Langano Lake
The Langano Lake is located in the Omo valley and it is one of the lakes that are found in the Great Rift Valley. You will enjoy your exploration of the Lake by carrying out some fishing, boat ride on the lake, birding due to the presence of different birds that can be seen and relaxing on the banks especially in the evenings.
Explore the Sanetti plateau
The Sanetti plateau is located a few minutes away from the Bales Mountain both of which are located in the Omo valley. It has a very good landscape that is good for all adrenaline addicts who want to trek while on a visit here. You will be able to sight see and get a close look at the rare Ethiopian wolf which is the only remaining wolf in Africa and also do some birding while in the area.
You can also try out nature walks within the plateau and get to meet the different ethnic groups, go for a horse-back ride and do some fishing in the numerous crater lakes that are located within the Great Rift Valley.
The Omo Valley found in southern Ethiopia is more and more popular, with its diverse tribal communities living essentially unaltered by modern society. Seeing the local ways of living entirely surviving on natural resources is all very humbling and an inspiring experience. Similarly, the landscape is breathtaking, as it descends from the beautiful highlands, to the wet forests, through the open savannahs, and finally to the hot desert lands along Lake Turkana’s shores.
The Omo as well as Mago National Parks are nestled along River Omo’s banks, the life-giving river that flows through the stunning Omo Valley. Even though the traditional African “Big 5″ wild animals’ sightings are hardly ever possible, several species continue to wander these lands.
The most interesting local people of this area are the Mursi people, well-known all over the world because of their women who actually wear clay-plates in their lower-lips as well as earlobes. A tiny cut is made in the lips of young teenage girls and these they stretch for some time. This lip plate continues to be an effective Mursi identification feature, and it is a symbol of a girl’s maturity to womanhood as well as reproductive potential. Women are permitted to decide on their own if they desire to slit their lip or otherwise.
The happy people of Hamer tribe provide wonderful cultural experiences to the visitor. Their Hamer women can easily be noticed with their distinctive hairstyle – the long dread like ringlets made using mud plus butter. The nighttime dance party, referred to as evangadi, works as a meeting place for the youthful Hamer bachelors as well as bachelorettes to associate and flirt with one another. The most exclusive ceremony is their Jumping during the Bulls event, in which a youthful man jumps over a number of bulls in a line to formally enter into manhood.
Among the other tribes within the Omo Valley are the Tsemai, Erbore, Ari, Dassenech plus the Karo, all having their own distinctive cultures as well as rituals which have endured the challenges of time!
Arba Minch signifies the access point to the Omo Valley. Close to Lake Chamo is habitat to the “crocodile market”, which is among the finest exhibits of crocodiles throughout Africa. Not so far away from Arba Minch you will find the Dorze people, staying high within the Gughe Mountains in their beehive-appearing huts, as well as the Konso, recognized for their wooden totem-like constructions put up in honor of the ancient warriors.