Book your best tour from Addis Ababa Ethiopia to Omo Valley tribes with Omo Valley Travel.

The Omo Valley is one of the most intact places in the world; it embraces 16 distinct ethnic groups with unique language and culture. These fascinating people lives isolated, extreme and particularly ancient way of life. However, they decorate themselves lavishly and their colorful dress and beautification customs give them an identity and highlights their uniqueness. Their dress is often scant, commonly utilizing skins and other natural resources. However, for men and women alike, it is usual to adorn with jewelry, beads, clay face and body painting, feathers, ear and lip plates, bodily scarification and other practices. The ceremonial events that each of these tribes perform, usually during and after harvesting, is among the best incidents to witness on our tours from Addis Ababa to Omo Valley tribes.

The natural beauty of the area is unsurpassed. The diverseness of the people, the languages, the traditions and the landscape (in a comparatively small area) is unequaled anywhere on this vast continent. The untainted attire and intrinsic majesty of the people living in an age-old traditional manner will touch the hearts of all who come here and the images will stain the visitors’ memory long after they return home.

Book your tour from Addis Ababa to Omo Valley tribes and witness unique cultures of the Lower Omo River Valley ethnic groups.

These fascinating peoples live isolated, extreme and particularly harsh lives. However, they decorate themselves lavishly and their colorful dress and beautification customs give them an identity and highlights their uniqueness. Their dress is often scant, commonly utilizing skins and other natural resources. However, for men and women alike, it is usual to be adorned with jewelry, beads, clay face and body painting, feathers, ear and lip plates, bodily scarification and other practices. Little is known about the origins of these customs but it is sufficient to say that appearance is a distinguishing factor for neighboring tribes; it is indeed extremely important to these exceptional people.

Arbore Tribe

Also known as Ulde, the Arbore tribe of South Omo Ethiopia are the southern neighbors of the Tsemay. They live in the hot plains north of Chew Bahir and are predominantly pastoralists. Livestock have high economic and social value for the Arbore.

Arbore Tribe South Omo Ethiopia

They keep cattle, sheep and goats. Milking cows, calves, sheep and goats are kept in the vicinity of the settlement. The rest of the livestock move from place to place in temporary camps. In times of drought the Arbore temporarily move their cattle to the neighboring Tsemay and Borana where they have peaceful and cooperative relations.

The Arbore Tribe of South Omo Ethiopia practice a slash and burn shifting cultivation method of agriculture, which is dependent upon the flooding of the Woito River and the seasonal rains. For every harvesting season elected elders, known as murra, assess the suitable land for agriculture and distribute it among the people, giving priority to the poor, orphans and widows.

Girls and women are adorned with beads and bracelets. They dress in skirts made from skin uniquely designed and decorated with beads and pieces of metal. Unmarried girls shave their hair clean and put a black piece of cloth on top of their head for sun protection. Arbore men wrap a white piece of cloth on their heads.

Funerals (negelcha) by Arbore Tribe of South Omo Ethiopia

When an adult man dies all his jewelry is buried with him. Relatives will put butter and milk in his mouth with a new gourd and the corpse is covered with a new cloth and sheepskin. Then the relatives will ask the dead person to bless his cattle. Finally, four individuals will take the corpse and bury it. Following this ritual it is believed that his cattle will be safe.

A few days after he is buried a ritual called (awal) will follow. A goat will be slaughtered and one of the un-skinned legs is placed on the grave of the dead person. The grave will be covered with abdominal fat. The eldest son will then inherit his father’s wealth and must promise to distribute his father’s cattle to his paternal uncles and younger brothers. A feast is prepared for relatives and friends.

Hamar Tribe, Omo Valley Ethiopia
11% Off
$450.00 $399.00

, 3 Days - 2 Nights

Bodi Tribe

The Bodi Tribe, Omo Valley are predominantly pastoral, living directly north of the Mursi, with whom they share much of their way of life. Except for limited agricultural activity around the Omo River, the Bodi depend entirely on animal husbandry.

Their culture is very much based on cattle. Like the Mursi tribe, the Bodi’s classification of cattle is complex, with over 80 words used to denote different colors and hid patterns. They migrate with their cattle, constructing temporary camps to prevent overgrazing of the land, and they also practice slash and burn techniques to grow new grasses. When a child is born, livestock is bestowed upon him; the father will usually present him with an ox and a cow.

The diet of Bodi tribe of Omo Valley consists mainly of blood (taken either directly from a wound made into the neck of the cattle, or stored in a calabash gourd), milk and dry porridge made either from sorghum or maize.

Men dress much like the Mursi and shave their hair in the same way. Bodi men are of larger stature than men from the neighboring tribes. Women dress in skirts made from goatskin tied at the waist and shoulder. The men fasten a strip of cotton or bark-cloth around their waist. Like the Mursi people, women cut their hair short and wear a small wooden plate in their ear. And like the Kara, Bodi tribe women pierce their bottom lip and fill the hole with a nail or wooden plug in a wider mode. Body scarification is practiced by men and broadly by women for decoration.

Dassanech Tribe

The Dassanech tribe live around the Omo delta on the northern side of Lake Turkana. They practice flood retreat cultivation, pastoralism and fishing. The Dassanech are the most southerly ethnic group living in Ethiopia’s Omo valley. The lands of the Dassanech are semi-arid and they live where the Omo delta enters Lake Turkana. Their name means People of the Delta. Despite the lake and delta, this is an incredibly dry region; there is nothing but desert to the west and southwest.

Cattle are central to the lives of the Dassanech Tribe, just as they are for the other ethnicities of the Omo valley. As well as meat, milk, leather for clothing, houses and mattresses, they provide status in the community, and the bride-wealth that allows a man to marry.

The Dassanech of Omo Valley Ethiopia community is not strictly defined by ethnicity. Over time the ethnic group has absorbed a wide range of different peoples and it’s now divided in to eight main clans. Each clan has its own identity and customs, its own responsibilities towards the rest of the community, and is linked to a particular territory.

The largest clan is the Galbur, or Water and Crocodile clan. The Dassanech tribe believe its members have the power over both water and crocodiles and are responsible for treating diseases throughout the ethnic group. The Turat clan is responsible for dealing with burns from fire. They have powers to ward off snakes and to cure many diseases, and also have the ability to keep their enemies away from their animals. Another important clan is Turnyerim, which has powers over drought. They pray for rains during dry periods and they can also cure snakebites by spitting on the wound. Other clans claim to have healing powers over eye infections, scorpion bites, muscular problems, and so on. Members of the same clan are forbidden from marrying – or indeed dancing – with each other.

As with most pastoralists in the area, the diet of the Dassanech people usually consists of dry porridge with milk, but they also hunt crocodile and fish the Omo River.

Dassanech Tribe, Omo Valley Ethiopia


Dassanech tribe women wear clothes made from leather. The men wear sarong-like garments. Both men and women of the ethnic group adorn themselves with beads and bracelets. Men can often be seen carrying a small stool or pillow, which is pretty ubiquitous in this southern region.


The Dassanech have four types of marriage:

  • darech – arranged marriage
  • garu wegesa – consensual marriage
  • seriti – marriage through abduction
  • ayodi – marriage by inheritance.

Marriage payments (koyta) can be made both in cash and in kind. The koyta is shared among the relatives of the bride but the largest share will go to her father.

Ceremonial Events of Dassanech Tribe, Omo Valley Ethiopia


This ritual is a tradition associated with the blessing of the first born daughters. Dimmi is performed when the girl reaches the age of 8–10. Each clan has their own special site where they perform the ritual. Girls of the same age and clan are blessed together. Before the ritual begins, temporary huts are built. Goats and cattle will be brought to slaughter at the ceremony. The girls’ fathers are expected to be well decorated. The blessing is made by a group of elders known as buls. The main purpose of the blessing is to ensure the girls fertility in their future life. Following the ceremony the father becomes an elder.


Both men and women are circumcised in Dassanech tribe society, as a pre-requisite for marriage. Male circumcision is known as edimita. Boys of a clan undergo circumcision together. Each clan has a site designed for this purpose. Temporary huts will be built at the site and the boys are transferred to these huts. During this time they are visited by some members of their family to deliver food and other necessities. The circumcision ceremony lasts for three months, during which time the boys dance and feast on milk, roasted crops and meat. On the day of circumcision, the person who is responsible for circumcising the clan boys circumcises each boy one by one. Then the boys return home with their parents.

Dassanech tribe girls are circumcised young, at around 10 or 12 years of age. If they are not circumcised, a girl can’t marry and her father won’t receive her bride-price, so he has a direct interest in her going through the ordeal. Until they are circumcised, girls are called wild animals or men to tease them. Girls may be circumcised in their mother’s house, or in another village, but it’s always amongst other girls their age going through the same ritual. When the ritual has been completed, the girl is given sour milk to drink and a necklace by her mother. From then on, she is allowed to wear a leather skirt to show she is now considered an adult. Marriage often takes place shortly thereafter.

The Dassanech are in conflict with all of their neighbors because of the scarcity of natural resources and ongoing cattle-raiding. The Dassanech fight sporadically with the Hamar, the Nyangatom and the Turkana tribes with whom they share borders.

Hamar Tribe, Omo Valley Ethiopia
11% Off
$450.00 $399.00

, 3 Days - 2 Nights

Hamar Tribe

Hamar Tribe, Omo Valley Ethiopia

The Hamar tribe are principally pastoralists, breeding cattle, goats and sheep. They have a similar veneration for cattle as their close neighbors. The women and girls grow crops, with the staple being sorghum, but they also grow beans, maize and pumpkin. The women are also responsible for collecting water, cooking, and looking after the household and children – who start helping the family by herding the goats from around age eight. The young men of the village work the crops and defend the herds, while adult men herd the cattle, plough with the oxen and raise beehives in acacia trees.

As with the majority of tribes in the area, the land is not owned by individuals; it is free for use by any member of the family group. The Hamar move on when they’ve exhausted the land.

Diet of Hamar Tribe

A dry porridge of either sorghum or maize is consumed with milk or boiled coffee husk (shoforo). Balasha, dry bread made mainly from sorghum, is sometimes eaten with butter and honey.


The Hamar are amongst the most readily identifiable of all the peoples of the South Omo. Women wear an elaborately decorated goatskin, often colored with beads and cowries. Beaded necklaces, bracelets and waistbands adorn their bodies, which, for the Hamar tribe, tend to be made with black and red beads. (The Banna, their close neighbors, mostly use blue and black beads). Women wear thick copper necklaces announcing their marital status. They wear a lather long tipped necklace and two copper necklaces if they’re the first wife and only two copper necklaces if they’re second, third or fourth wife to one man.

One striking characteristic of the Hamar men and women is that they indulge in elaborate hair-dressing. Men wear a clay cap which is painted and decorated with feathers and other ornaments. They also paint themselves with white chalk paste during ceremonial events. The women decorate their hair with clay and butter twisted into a striking long plait. Ethnic men are often seen carrying a small stool or pillow in the Omo region in general.

Marriage by Hamar Tribe

The Hamar have five types of marriage:

  • An arranged marriage
  • kindle kays – consensual marriage
  • yedot – marriage through abduction
  • ishmena – marriage by inheritance
  • merima – replacement marriage

Ceremonial Events of Hamar Tribe

Cattle Jumping (ukule Bulla) A Hamar tribe man comes of age by leaping over a line of cattle. This ceremony qualifies him to marry, own cattle and have children. The timing of the ceremony is decided by the man’s parents and usually happens after the harvest. Prior to the ceremony the male who has to jump walks to neighboring settlements to announce his intent to jump and to distribute invitations (usually a strip of bark with a number of knots, one for each day left before the ceremony).

On the afternoon of the leap, as guests gather, the man’s female relatives demand to be whipped as part of the ceremony. The Maza (a man who has already jumped the cattle between three months) uses a long fin stick and strikes the girls on their exposed backs. This is a consensual act, with the girls begging and singing to the Maza so that he continues whipping them. This is not only a show of strength from the girls, who proudly show off their scars, but it also symbolizes their affiliation towards their kin. Her scars are a mark of how she suffered for her brothers and relatives.

The young man who is to leap has his head partially shaved and he’s rubbed with sand to wash away his sins. He’s then smeared with dung to give him strength, while strips of tree bark are strapped around his body in a cross as a form of spiritual protection.

The Maza and the elders line up between eight and twenty cows and castrated male cattle. To come of age, the man must leap across the line four times. Only when he has been through this initiation rite can he marry the wife chosen for him by his parents, and start to build up his own herd. Once his marriage has been agreed, a dowry of around twenty cattle and thirty goats must be paid to the bride’s family.

Evan Gadi

Night dances take place on a regular basis and are usually associated with crop harvests, the full moon, peace and stability. They are also where unmarried women and young men come together to meet, dance, and enjoy relations.

Enemies / Foes

The traditional enemies of the Hamar people are the Dassanech and the Nyangatom, and there have been several recent conflicts between the tribes. Their closest neighbours and allies, the Banna and the Karo, intermarry and share similar cultures and rituals.

Hamar Tribe, Omo Valley Ethiopia
11% Off
$450.00 $399.00

, 3 Days - 2 Nights

Kara/Karo Tribe

Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving across water. It is distinguished from canoeing by the sitting position of the paddler and the number of blades on the paddle. A kayak is a low-to-the-water, canoe-like boat in which the paddler sits facing forward, legs in front, using a double-bladed paddle to pull front-to-back on one side and then the other in rotation. Most kayaks have closed decks, although sit-on-top and inflatable kayaks are growing in popularity as well.

Kayaks were created thousands of years ago by the Inuit, formerly known as Eskimos, of the northern Arctic regions. They used driftwood and sometimes the skeleton of whale, to construct the frame of the kayak, and animal skin, particularly seal skin was used to create the body. The main purpose for creating the kayak, which literally translates to “hunter’s boat” was for hunting and fishing. The kayak’s stealth capabilities, allowed for the hunter to sneak up behind animals on the shoreline, and successfully catch their prey. By the mid-1800s the kayak became increasingly popular and the Europeans became interested. German and French men began kayaking for sport. In 1931, a man named Adolf Anderle became the first person to kayak down the Salzachofen Gorge, this is where the birthplace of modern-day white-water kayaking is believed to have begun. Kayak races were introduced in the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936.

In the 1950s fiberglass kayaks were developed and commonly used, until 1980s when polyethylene plastic kayaks came about. Kayaking progressed as a fringe sport in the U.S. until the 1970s, when it became a mainstream popular sport. Now, more than 10 white water kayaking events are featured in the Olympics.While kayaking represents a key international watersport, few academic studies have been conducted on the role kayaking plays in the lives and activities of the public .

Karo/Kara Tribe

Paragliding is the recreational and competitive adventure sport of flying paragliders: lightweight, free-flying, foot-launched glider aircraft with no rigid primary structure. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing comprising a large number of interconnected baffled cells. Wing shape is maintained by the suspension lines, the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing, and the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the outside.

Despite not using an engine, paraglider flights can last many hours and cover many hundreds of kilometers, though flights of one to two hours and covering some tens of kilometers are more the norm. By skillful exploitation of sources of lift, the pilot may gain height, often climbing to altitudes of a few thousand meters.

Kwegu/Mugugi Tribe

A climbing peak may refer to a mountain or hill peak or a rock formation that has to be ascended by climbing. The term is common in Germany where it is specifically used of free-standing rock formations in the climbing regions of Saxon Switzerland, Zittau Mountains and other nearby ranges in the German Central Uplands that can only be summitted via climbing routes of at least grade I on the UIAA scale or by jumping from nearby rocks or massifs. As a general rule, they must have a topographic prominence of at least 10 metres to qualify. In Saxon Switzerland the Saxon Climbing Regulations do not require any minimum height, but define climbing peaks as

Another requirement is its recognition by the responsible sub-committee of the Saxon Climbers’ Federation (SBB) and the responsible conservation authorities. For hikers these authorized summits may often be recognised by the presence of a summit register and abseiling anchor points.

In other climbing areas, such as those in Bohemian Switzerland, there are other exceptions. There, climbing peaks only need to have a significant rock face – the lowest side of which has to be less than 10 m high, but at least 6 m high.

Mursi Tribe

Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. Tourism may be international, or within the traveller’s country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism more generally, in terms which go “beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only”, as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.

Tourism can be domestic or international, and international tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country’s balance of payments. Today, tourism is a major source of income for many countries, and affects the economy of both the source and host countries, in some cases being of vital importance.

Hamar Tribe, Omo Valley Ethiopia
11% Off
$450.00 $399.00

, 3 Days - 2 Nights
Omo Valley Ethiopia tribes 4 day tours
4 Days - 3 Nights
Omo Valley Ethiopia Tour

5 Days - 4 Nights

Nyangatom Tribe

The Nyangatom tribe are predominantly pastorals but they also practice dry farming during the wet season and flood cultivation along the west bank of the Lower Omo and at Kibish Rivers during the dry season. Within the territory of the Nyangatom tribe two different types of settlement and lifestyle have evolved.

Along the west bank of the southern Omo River the Nyangatom practice agriculture, growing sorghum, maize, beans and tobacco. They also fish in the Omo River. It’s likely that these tribes-people live here because at some point they lost their cattle. It is impossible to raise livestock along this section of the Omo River because of the Tsetse fly. The rest of the Nyangatom live a more semi-nomadic pastoralist lifestyle, moving with their herds throughout south-western Ethiopia, the Ilemi Triangle and the Toposa lands of neighboring Sudan.

The Nyangatom tribe are divided into about seven main- and 20 sub clans. Membership is via the paternal line – you belong to the clan your father belongs to. These clans vary in size from a few members to several hundred. The Nyangatom – are also divided into territorial sections. These might be named after migratory birds (Storks, Flamingos, Ibis) or have ethnic names (Kumam, Ngaric), or other names taken from nature (Castor Tree). Social organization is by – generation-set. Each generation is given a name. The earliest ancestors are called the Founders. Their sons were the Wild Dogs. Then the Zebras, the Tortoises, and the Mountains follow and so on. The oldest generation-set still living is called the Elephants; then the Ostriches and the Antelopes. The youngest generations are known as the Buffaloes Fathers and sons always socialize separately. The Elders remain in the village while the boys herd the goats that graze on bushes around the village. The women milk the livestock. The traditional leader of the Nyangatom is the akatuken.

Surma/Suri Tribe

The Surma or Suri tribe are pastorals who live in the lowlands to the west of the Omo bordering Sudan. They live a similar lifestyle to the Mursi. As with the Mursi, cattle are invaluable to them. For both these peoples, it is the woman’s job to take care of the household and the land. Traditionally, their homes are constructed from wood and grasses, and most of the cooking takes place outside on an open fire. The young boys and unmarried men take care of the cattle. They spend much of the year in temporary grazing camps, returning to their established settlements for additional food and ceremonial events.

To the untrained eye it’s difficult to tell the Surma or Suri Tribe and Mursi apart. Their clothing, beautification processes of scarification, lip plates, hair design and jewelry are all similar. Like the Mursi, Suri girls are adorned with a lip plug from their mid-teens. A hole is pierced in the lower lip and plugged with a piece of wood until it heals. It is then stretched by the girl who repeatedly places larger wooden plugs in the hole until it is replaced by the clay plate.

The Surma or Suri tribe practice the art of body painting. Different clay are collected to acquire colors ranging from red, orange, yellow and white. They are mixed with a little water and painted onto face and body. The Suri are exceptional artists, although each design is both unique and only temporary. The Mursi practice this art to a lesser extent, but generally with less aptitude.

Tsemay Tribe

An adventure is an exciting or unusual experience. It may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.Adventures may be activities with some potential for physical danger such as traveling, exploring, skydiving, mountain climbing, scuba diving, river rafting or participating in extreme sports.

The term also broadly refers to any enterprise that is potentially fraught with physical, financial or psychological risk, such as a business venture, or other major life undertakings.