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Skillful Ari People

At the blacksmith - Ari Village, near Jinka, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

At the blacksmith – Ari Village, near Jinka, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Around the town of Jinka is Ari territory. The village we visited late afternoon was just lovely, well kept with lots of fruits trees and very green. Of course a local guide joined us onsite, who had brought along an assistant, who had brought a traditional skirt made from small twigs. Quickly this was wrapped around Heidi hips and masqueraded like this we walked around escorted by throngs of children. Continue Reading →

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Dimeka’s hidden secrets

Dimeka Market, Hamer People, near Jinka, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Dimeka Market, Hamer People, near Jinka, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

There are not that many villages along the circular road that runs through the lower Omo Valley. Each of them, no matter how small, is exciting in its own way. Also Dimeka did not let us down. Continue Reading →

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Bull – Jumping Ceremony

The "Jumper", Bull-Jumping Ceremony, Hamer People, near Turmi, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

The “Jumper”, Bull-Jumping Ceremony, Hamer People, near Turmi, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Rumors among the drivers spread quickly – a Bull – Jumping ceremony was taking place in the afternoon, near the dry river bed outside of the village. Matthew was all business, for no less than 25 US Dollars / 400 Birr per person, we could join, all photos included. This ceremony is so unique, only known in Hamer culture, that we swallowed hard and paid. Of course this included a guide, whose job it was to be at the very venue where Matthew took us. Basically he and Matthew were sharing the bounty. We wondered if any of this money would reach the family who was organizing and paying for this party. Continue Reading →

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Questionable Hamer Traditions

Bull-Jumping Ceremony, Hamer People, near Turmi, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Bull-Jumping Ceremony, Hamer People, near Turmi, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

There was not much to buy on the market in Turmi, mainly grain. Nevertheless hundreds of Hamer milled around, shopping, haggling and chatting, not particularly concerned with the few tourists stumbling around. Continue Reading →

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Dasanech People – Across The Omo River

Dasanech People, across the Omo River, near Omorate, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Dasanech People, across the Omo River, near Omorate, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Once on the other side, the usual circus started. Everybody insisted to be photographed for 2 Birr. We truly mean everybody. Children were pulling our arms, legs, T-shirts, groups of girls were posing and elderly ladies simply shouted at us – the Arbore déjà vu… This time, hardened by our adventure in the Arbore village, we used our newly developed strategy. We picked the people that we wanted to photograph, but soon we were overwhelmed by the villagers big and small pleading for more photo-shooting. So much for our plan… Continue Reading →

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Omo River Crossing

Omo River, near Omorate, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Omo River, near Omorate, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

The hour long drive from Turmi to Omerate offers a bit of Safari feeling. Savannah with low growing shrubs is intercepted by the occasional termite mound pointing towards the sky like a chimney. Matthew stopped a few times to show us endemic birds, like the big Secretary bird, or Guinea fowls. Some shy Tik Tiks and mighty baboons turned this trip into a minor game drive. Continue Reading →

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One Photo? – Two Birr!

Dasanech People, across the Omo River, near Omorate, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Dasanech People, across the Omo River, near Omorate, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Of course we had read about this “Birr for Photos” business that has evolved in the Omo Valley over the last couple of years. But no matter how well prepared you think you are, it is very challenging! Especially since it is never exactly the same, every village has its own rules. The only common denominator is Birr. Continue Reading →

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Being Tested By The Arbore People

Arbore People, Arbore, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Arbore People, Arbore, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

The road from Karat-Konso to Turmi runs through the territory of the Arbore people, who are famous for their colorful traditional clothes and their distinctive jewelry. One of the Arbore villages is close to the road, which has made it the very stop over for tourists marveling at this ethnic group. By now the villagers have become pros in extracting Birr for every click. Every click? They count them! For us this place was the true initiation rite for the Omo Valley “Ethno Circuit”. Once we stopped outside the village, hell broke loose! Continue Reading →

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The Gated Communities Of The Konso

Mecheke Village, near Karat-Konso, Konso People, Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Mecheke Village, near Karat-Konso, Konso People, Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

The town of Karat-Konso is the gateway to the Lower Omo Valley. Its downtown is basically a giant roundabout, no kidding… There we picked up the permit to visit the nearby village of Mecheke, which sits on top of a little hill. It is not surrounded by one, but by several walls. Naturally the Konso, the local ethnic group of the same name, built these for defending themselves against attacks from other tribes. As the village grew, huts were built outside the walls, and at some point a new wall was built around the huts outside. Continue Reading →

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… And Down To Lake Chamo

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) on Lake Chamo, near Arba Minch, Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) on Lake Chamo, near Arba Minch, Omo Valley, South Ethiopia

That afternoon a fisherman took us out on Lake Chamo, the more southerly of the two Riff Valley Lakes near Arba Minch. Matthew could not be convinced to leave later, at around 04:00 pm, when it was cooler and the light less aggressive. Nope, the crocodile and the hippos would be gone, he insisted. All in all it was a great trip. The small boat got us really close to amazing birds, crocodiles big and small, some lazily sleeping, others stomping around in peaceful coexistence with large colonies of pelicans. Continue Reading →

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