OMO Valley and the amazing tribes of Ethiopia

By Lucas Rodrigues and Rafael Saes

Me and my photographer friend Rafael Saes – author of all the photos in this post – were on our way to the Quênia and we decided to stop in Ethiopia to get to know and explore the OMO Valley.

The OMO Valley is the place with the greatest diversity of ancient tribes of ethiopia. All unique, vibrant and amazing. Each one still lives in her own way, with her unusual traditions and customs. 

The landscape is also beautiful: savannah with jungle, mini farms (all the tribes in the region are formed by cattle herders) and mud and straw houses. Cotton plantations also caught my attention, but nothing was more impressive than the first tribe we met: console.

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OMO Valley and the amazing tribes of Ethiopia

Indigenous Tribe of Ethiopia – Konso

console has 300 thousand inhabitants divided into 43 small villages. Stone, straw and bamboo houses, walls and hollows. Even picturesque. Quite different, the villages are formed by circles of walls that are being built as the population spreads out.

The other tribes are also quite impressive! AND Mursi it's one of those.

OMO Valley and the amazing tribes of Ethiopia

Indigenous Tribe of Ethiopia – Mursi

To get there, it took a two-hour journey. Lots of Ethiopian reggae (have you heard it? Press play on the video at the end of this post) and the incredible landscape of Mago National Park by the way. Land of lions, hippos, rhinos, elephants and giraffes. #veryafrica

Os Mursi are really unique and isolated (even seeing one or the other in the city). They are known for their body painting – mainly their face – and their adornments: horns on their heads, rings on their arms and legs and large wooden rings on their lips and ears.

It is unbelievable – especially when you see the lips and ears without these adornments when they are open. Its huts and huts, together with the geography and beauty of the surroundings, form a beautiful place, perfect for traveling in the imagination.

OMO Valley and the amazing tribes of Ethiopia

Tourism in the Indigenous Tribes of Ethiopia

One thing happens in this and in general in all other tribes: you take a picture and you pay for it. It's 5 birr ($0,25) per photo. It gets a little uncomfortable and even annoying at times. Many people, not only in these tribes, keep asking us to take pictures of them so they can charge and earn money. I found it very strange and went looking for it.

OMO, contrary to what it seems, is not a land frozen in time.

Roads, sugar mills, coffee plantations and other industries have been “civilizing” those who live there. Tribes suffer. They lose natural resources, their water is polluted and they need money to survive.

Tourism is a help and so is payment for the photo. It is a way for the tribes to keep alive their traditions and customs of life, in addition to supporting their children. I came to understand a little and accept the situation.

But it pains me to know that a Heritage, listed by UNESCO, lives in such a precarious situation.

Speaking of the Mursi children, the ones we had the most contact with are, for the most part, sensational. They go crazy with the cell phone and the camera. Just leave it up to them to play non-stop. Laugh like crazy. They pull you, call you and welcome you without asking for money – like your parents.

OMO Valley and the amazing tribes of Ethiopia

Tip – Hire a Local Guide

Our guide, Lalo, also explained this whole situation to us and helped us a lot to understand what is going on in the Valley.

Lalo is a native of Jinka – capital of OMO and where all the tourists stay – which, by the way, are very few. Unlike the big tourism companies in Etiópia – who charge more, are not flexible and leave little money in the communities -, Lalo does it differently. It distributes to everyone and its real objective is to develop its people.

I think tourism can be smarter – and certainly cheaper. Giving a chance to small guides and local companies can help a lot in the region visited. Furthermore, it is much more intimate and in some cases exciting. The involvement with the place ends up being bigger and more fun. You know the friends of those you are with, you know the local customs and you experience it. It makes more sense to me. #experience

Another tribe that leaves anyone speechless is the Hammer.

Indigenous Tribe of Ethiopia – Hammer

They live even more isolated and have a very strange custom that caught our attention: the “Bull Jumping”.

It works like this: they make rows of oxen – from five to seven – and the man has to cross that row by jumping and putting his feet on all the animals.

I confess that I was a little uncomfortable seeing them lining up the animals and jumping on them. Tradition happens whenever some man wants to get married. He spends weeks training to be successful. Each tribe has its way of turning a boy into a man.

It may look very different, but everything impresses.

Another gift Ethiopia gave us was to see something rare across the Africa: a black child with blue eyes!

OMO Valley and the amazing tribes of Ethiopia

OMO Valley and the amazing tribes of Ethiopia

How to Get to the Indigenous Tribes of Ethiopia

O OMO Valley it is very remote and difficult to visit. For now, the cheapest access is by land and takes 12 hours to reach Jinka from Addis Ababa (country capital). Once there, it is necessary to make several daily trips of one, two or three hours to reach the tribes.

As some are even further away, it is necessary to spend the night there. Another way is to fly to Arbaminch (the most expensive option) and continue traveling by The demon – about four hours of travel from the site. It's tiring, but it's worth it.

I hope that more and more people can marvel at the culture of this place and have the chance to share the experience as I did!

Also, I continued my journey. I went to the Quênia, putting into practice the social impact model of my company, Hevp (, and I showed everything on Instagram and Snapchat: hevpclothing.

Ethiopian reggae stuff. Sound in the box!


Are you full of things to think about and still have to plan your entire trip? Or you've seen it all, but you're feeling that familiar "maybe I've forgotten something?" So calm down, we'll help you with some items you can't forget before boarding. Come on?

Have you already purchased your air ticket? 

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Travel Insurance is ESSENTIAL 


Have you ever thought about having to pay medical expenses or having to shell out fortunes for setbacks on the trip? We already know of several cases of people who have gone through this.

Although travel insurance is not mandatory to enter Africa, hiring a plan is highly recommended. Travel Insurance is cheap and a necessary investment to get rid of bigger problems that can happen during the holidays. 

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How to have unlimited internet while traveling

Where to buy: AMERICA CHIP

Did you know that it's getting easier – and cheaper – to have unlimited internet throughout your trip? 

Just ask for an international cell phone chip at America Chip. We always use and love it! They send a SIM card to your address in España, you insert it in your cell phone when you arrive at your destination and you have unlimited internet throughout the trip.

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Rent cars at the best prices

Where to Rent: RENTCARS

We really like RentCars to find the cars we use on our travels. It is the only one in Spain that compares the best rental companies in the world, but lets you pay in reais, without IOF. In addition, it is also the only one that lets you pay in 12 interest-free installments. It is worth it!

#Here's a tip: Try to find cars with full car and third party insurance coverage. Thus, you avoid inopportune surprises when picking up the car.

Also, be very smart when closing with other car rental comparisons. That's because prices are usually charged in dollars and close with your card. If the dollar goes up, the price of your car rental goes up too.

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  • International Travel Insurance – Is it worth it?
  • What to do in Cairo, Egypt – 5-Day Itinerary
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