Why is Ethiopia’s Omo Valley region so rich in culture?

Albee Yeend By Albee Yeend
25 Aug 2017
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Ethiopia is home to some of the most fascinating indigenous tribal communities in Africa and culturally, the highlight of southern Ethiopia is South Omo.

It’s is a remote region tucked against the Kenyan border, where a dozen or more different ethnic groups live. Visiting Ethiopia's - Omo Valley is truly a journey into one of Africa’s last unexplored frontiers, where tourists are still a rarity and where the wildlife - what little remains of it, is still truly wild.

Each tribe has their own unique and distinctive features,  including the Karo's who decorate their bodies and hair with chalk paint to imitate the guinea fowl and paint multi-coloured facemasks; the Mursi who are quite simply one of the most fascinating  tribes, as the women wear the huge clay lip-plates and the men have stick fighting rituals; the Hamer tribe, where the men do the 'Bull Jumping' - a three day initiation rite held every spring and the women are some of the most beautiful in East  Africa; plus the crocodile-hunting Dassanech.


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Other tribes located in and around the Omo Valley include the Bana, Tsamai, Konso, Erbore,  Borana and Gabbra and each of them offer their own equally exclusive and interesting customs. Some of these tribes have lived in complete isolation for a seriously long time.

Southern Ethiopia and in particular the lower Omo Valley is home to some of the world’s last unchanged cultural tribes. This region is a melting pot of communities and cultures and symbolises some of the ultimate genetic variance on the African continent. The Omo has been described as the birthplace of mankind, which is not really hard to see why.


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The Omo River Valley has a small range of camps that are offered as a base to explore the tribal lifestyles on offer within the valley. You can journey down the west bank of the Omo River by road and by boat, travelling south with the flow of the Omo River into the extremely remote Omo Delta. You can also include a three day hike into the Surma Highlands, which is a most unusual journey and you will discover some of the areas far-flung villages.


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One place that we recommend for the best place to visit the tribes of the Omo Valley is Lumale Camp, which lies nestled under an ancient ficus grove in a spectacular location overlooking a sweeping ox bow bend of the river Omo, within the heart of the exceptional and remote cultural wonderland of the Omo River basin.

Lumale camp offers the perfect base, to discover and explore the wonders of the tribes, cultures and traditions of the Omo River Basin with the sincere joy of a real African adventure, together with high standards of comfort. A journey into the Omo Basin is a mixture of landscape and fascinating culture.


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One can organise mobile camps throughout Ethiopia, offering the opportunity to experience a range of off grid Ethiopia destinations, from the striking desert landscapes and depressions of Danakil to the varied wildlife and views of Gheralta.


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