„Tribal Traits and Traditions Tour“
[ Upper + Lower Omo Valley, South West Ethiopia ]

The Omo valley of Ethiopia is part of the Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples Region (SNNPR) and is a relatively isolated area of the country, renowned for its indigenous people or tribes. There are approximately 40 tribes in the region, many of who are living as they have existed for millennia. It is these tribes that we have come to photograph – in their villages, the bush, roadside and local markets.

The photography. With tribal peoples photography is different. A very good local guide is necessary but here the precedent of paying villages and/or individuals is almost universal. This was something the tour companies seem to have instigated decades ago when tourism was in its infancy. We always try to give to the village instead of the ‘person’ because it is less discriminating, and we get our local guides to deal with payment to take pressure off the ‘photographers’. We are sensitive to the impacts that tourism can cause, hence, we try to make visits sustainable and avoid promoting ‘zooification’! It is all a delicate balance and the local guides are often best in deciding which strategy to adopt. In some cases when we have stayed in a ‘Suri’ village, for example, we wander around the village without a camera just to become a familiar sight. It is interpersonal skills, which make the moment count. And in that moment we want to capture light, colour, emotion, insight, character and spirit. We try to shoot in the golden hours or at least where there is shade from the intense African sun. In the right light, at the right time the ordinary becomes extraordinary and that is something to strive for. Extraordinary portraits, tribal life and street markets. Arbore, Hamar, Kara, Nyangatom, Bena, Ari, Suri, Dassenech, Tsemai – names of some of the tribes we will encounter.

Villages are sometimes remote and this is what makes the photography rewarding. We travel in comfortable 4X4’s (Toyota Land Cruisers or similar) to get to some of the very best locations. There is always a plan B if plan A has to be abandoned due to the occasional downpour, for example, making unsurfaced tracks impassible. It is also possible that we change the itinerary spontaneously if we hear of a local festival or celebration (bull jumping – hamar tribe, Stick fighting – Suri tribe).

Camping is in good quality tents with thick roll mats, a toilet tent and a cook to cater for all our meals. Ethiopia isn’t like Kenya or the countries to the south where ‘luxury tented camps’ are the norm, but the camping is comfortable and good. And you get to places others so not see!

You do need a sense of adventure for this trip. A good first aid kit with Malaria prophylaxis. I will send out a ‘things to bring’ list later. We will be off the beaten track but will not be doing any arduous ‘treks’ except to walk around, and to, some of the villages, which are short distances.


Services included

  • Meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner for the time of the tour. Meals may occasionally be local depending on location but for the most part the food is unsophisticated western fayre.  Meals will also include water and soft drinks.
  • Entrance fees/permits for villages.
  • Transfer to and from Bole airport to the hotel.
  • Photo tour leaders and local guides.
  • Travel by Toyota Land Cruisers (4×4) or similar.
  • To reserve a place there is a deposit of 10% US$690

The single supplement is US$250 and there is a surcharge of US$180 for domestic flights when flying to and from Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines (recommended).

Services not included / additional costs

Alcohol and paying for photographs in villages. We will try, where negotiable, to pay a lump sum to the village but sometimes this is not possible. I recommend approximately $150 per person for ‘photo fees’. This needs to be converted to small notes on arrival in Addis Ababa. Some photographers take thousands of photos!!! The local guide will handle payments. You will also need some extra money for tips for drivers, cooks, guides etc. Approximately US$15 per driver/guide/cook per day. This shared between all participants.

If you have any questions please contact me by email or telephone:

+43 680 1231 892



  • Day 1

    Addis Ababa

    Group members gather in the lobby of the Jupiter or Monarch International Hotel. Tour overview, briefing and Q&A session at 5:30pm. Overnight stay at the Jupiter International Hotel or Monarch Hotel

    Hotel Jupiter
  • Day 2

    Addis Abeba - Jimma - Mizan Teferi

    Flight (ET131 10:35-11:30) Addis Ababa to Jimma. Drive from Jimma to Mizan Teferi. Overnight at Salayish Lodge

    Salayish Lodge
  • Day 3

    Mizan Teferi - Tulgit

    We start at 7:30am, heading to Tulgit, one of the larger villages of the Suri tribe. We drive through Bebeka, the largest coffee- plantation in Ethiopia. We arrive at Tulgit  in the late-afternoon. Camping overnight.

    The Suri tribe are divided into three clans – Zilmamo clan settled around Tulgit, Chai clan around Kibish and Tirma clan around Jeba. The Tirma are more urbanized and have lost some of their traditions so we stay in Kibish, which is more convenient and has great access to the surrounding villages. The Suri are renowned for their facial and body painting, stick fighting (Donga) and the woman often have lip plates.

    Private camping

    Private Camping
  • Day 4

    Tulgit - Kibish

    We start early at 6:30am to take advantage of the best light.  We visit a nearby Suri village of the Zilmamo clan. They are pastoralists so daily chores include herding and milking.  After lunch, we proceed to Kibish, a village of the Chai clan. In the mid-afternoon we will visit a village and photograph life as they know it – body scarification is common and occasionally we see them taking blood from their cattle or witness their renowned stick fighting. Late-afternoon, we return to Kibish where we camp overnight.  45kms / 3.5 hours driving

    Lunch boxes will be prepared to make good use of time for village visits as we will be away from the campsite for most of the day.

    Private camping

    Private Camping
  • Tag 5

    Koka Cattle Camp - Kibish und Umgebung

    At 6:00AM, we depart for the Koka area where there are a couple of cattle camps of the Chai clan. Cattle are integral to the life of the Suri tribe. We see the herders, young men, taking the cattle to water, milking and perhaps blood letting. Before noon, we return to Kibish and embark upon a walk to a local village, one of the authentic villages of the Suri tribe’s Chai clan. Here, you will spend the afternoon photographing daily life. The lip plates of the women here differ in shape from the Mursi tribe (who are related to the Suri) in the Lower Omo Valley. In the late afternoon, we return to Kibish where we camp overnight.

    85kms / 3 hours driving.  Lunch boxes will be prepared for the day.

    Private camping

    Private Camping
  • Day 6

    Kibish – Kakuta

    An early morning village visit while the team breaks camp.  At 8:30AM we drive to Kakuta, a remote and rarely visited tribal area which is home to the Nyangatom, who are said to be descendants of the Toposa tribe in South Sudan. At midday we arrive at Kakuta and in the afternoon we visit a village of the Nyangatom tribe. Here, we will have opportunities to photograph the tribe, who live in a climatically challenging area of the Omo (very arid). The women wear numerous strands of beads, which they build upon during life. Tribal adornment is an integral part of their culture. The area is semi arid and water has to be collected from rivers each day. Camp overnight in Kakuta. 105kms / 3 hours driving. Lunch boxes are provided to create time to photograph in the villages.

    Private camping

    Private Camping
  • Day 7

    Kakuta - Dus (via Kangatan)

    Departing Kakuta at 5:00AM, we drive to Dus, the second of three village settlements of the Kara tribe. Sited on the banks of the Omo River, the Kara known for their creative and decorative body chalk painting. We visit the local school and photograph these outgoing and curious kids. Many of the Kara women have pierced lips and insert nails, flowers and pins. In addition to various photographic opportunities in the village and on the banks of the Omo River, we may be able to photograph the ceremonial, communal dance performed by the people of Dus. This is dusty and very atmospheric – photo opportunities abound. The Kara of Dus pride themselves as the best dancers in the Omo. Overnight camping.

    Private camping

    Private Camping
  • Day 8


    We break camp, after an early morning visit to the Kara, and proceed to Turmi in the Eastern or Southern Omo. We may visit the market at Dimeka, but if there is a chance of a Hamar bull jumping ceremony our itinerary will change. The Hamar women have high cheek bones, wear thick copper/metal necklaces, elaborate beads, goat-skins and their hair is often coloured with red ochre and butter. The men often use coloured clay on their hair  and take real pride in their appearance and culture. Like all the tribes, they are very photogenic. Overnight at Buska Lodge.

    Buska Lodge
    Buska Lodge
  • Day 9


    We drive to Omorate to visit a remote Dassanech village, close to the Kenyan border. Here, we visit their villages and photograph daily life. This is an arid area with very fine silt soils deposited by the Omo river in the past. In the late afternoon we proceed back to Turmi, perhaps stopping at a Hamar village to get the best of the light in the golden hour. Overnight in Buska Lodge.




    Buska Lodge
    Buska Lodge
  • Day 10


    During our days around Turmi, we may have the opportunity to see the ritual bull-jumping ceremony of the Hamar tribe. If this materialises the itinerary may be adjusted to enable us to see and photograph this amazing ceremony. We will visit the local Hamar villages and the market at Turmi where the tribes congregate to sell their wares and indulge in sampling the locally made alcohol!

    Buska Lodge
    Buska Lodge
  • Day 11

    Turmi - Arbore - Alduba - Jinka

    We depart at 5.30am from Turmi, heading to Arbore located at the northern edge of Mount Buska. The Arbore women are absolutely stunning, with extremely dark skin and strong features. Prior to marriage the women have their heads shaved. They wear dark robes, colorful beads and their huts are constructed of tree branches. After our visit we drive to Jinka and spend the night at The Eco-Omo Lodge.

    Eco-Omo Lodge
    Eco Omo Lodge
  • Day 12

    Jinka - Mago National park

    An early morning drive to photograph the Mursi who, like the Suri, have ornate body painting and the women have lip plates. In the afternoon we return to Jinka and visit the Ari tribe and the Omo Child project. There may also be an opportunity to visit the Bodi tribe whilst in the Mago area. Overnight at Eco-Omo lodge.

    Eco Omo Lodge
    Eco Omo Lodge
  • Day 13

    Jinka - Konso

    After a visit to Jinka museum we depart to visit the Konso tribe via Key Afer market. Their stone-walled village fencings with narrow alleyways, iconic thatched huts, colourful skirts of their women, etc. In July 2011 the Konso Community was named as the 9th UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ethiopia for their nine-clan community structure, terraced fields and unique farming skills. Overnight at Kanta lodge.

    Kanta Lodge
  • Day 14

    Konso – Arba Minch

    A morning visit to the Konso people and a boat trip on Lake Chamo, renowned for its crocodiles, hippos and peilicans. We then proceed to Arbaminch and visit the Dorze tribe. Overnight at Dorze lodge.




    Dorze Lodge
    Dorze Lodge
  • Day 15

    Chencha Markt – Arba Minch airport – Addis Abeba

    We visit Chencha market and then to Arba Minch and the airport. – Flight (ET135 15:40-16:45) Arba Minch to Addis Ababa. Transfer to the Monarch or Jupiter hotel. At 7:15pm, we have a farewell dinner. Overnight at the Jupiter/Monarch, ending our 14 day photography tour of the Upper and Lower Omo Valley in South-West Ethiopia or transfer to the airport.

    Hotel Jupiter International or transfer to Bole airport and departure

    Hotel Jupiter International
    Hotel Jupiter International
  • Day 16

    Addis Abbaba

    Transfer to Bole airport and departure.

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