Visiting Ethiopia’s Omo Valley is one of the most exciting experiences that travellers could have in their lifetime. Omo Valley features beautiful and diverse landscapes, and each tribe village has a unique set of customs and traditions. Travelling to this remote region can be challenging but worthwhile when you get an intimate glimpse into the lives of indigenous people in tribal communities. Here’s a quick guide to the villages that you can visit while at Omo Valley.
The striking town, conveniently located amidst green hills, offers grand views over the rift valley lakes of Chamo and Abaya. Being one of the most striking cities in southern Ethiopia, Arbaminch has much to offer to visitors. It is a part of the Great Rift Valley system and it encompasses the two famous lakes of Abya and Chamo, which are divided by a famous mountain known as the “Yegzer Dildy” that means the “bridge of God”. Arbamich is also a gateway to Nech SAR National Park, the sanctuary for the endemic Swayne’s hartebeest.
Chencha is a mountainous village of the Dorze people, who are well-known for their cotton weavers and production of textiles. Their tall beehive-shaped dwellings are among the most distinctive traditional structures to be seen anywhere in Africa. The unique Dorze houses make Chencha worth a visit. These remarkable extended domes measure up to 6-8 meters tall and are constructed entirely from bamboo.
Konso is a tribe that inhabits the area of basalt hills about 85 km to the south from Arba Minch. They speak a Cushitic language. The Konso people live in villages usually located on a top of a hill and surrounded by a 2-meter stone wall. They are famous all over Ethiopia for their advanced methods of land cultivation, which include irrigation and building of terraces. Also very famous are the Konso’s waqa – carved wooden monuments erected on the graves.
Jinka is a small town, which is a gate to the lower Omo Valley. It has a small ethnographic museum displaying the culture and antiquity of the Omo Valley people. There is also a weekly open-air market on Saturdays, which gives visitors a chance to see tribes of Bena, Ari, and Tsemai. You may also see the famous Mursi people with their legendary lip plates.
The Mursi people, who are wandering cattle herders, are possibly the most celebrated residents of South Omo. In the village, you can witness this interesting civilization and their renowned cultural practices like their women who sport large pottery discs on their lower lips, go topless, and bear ritual scarification marks — an exotic sight.
Turmi is a small town and the region of the Hammer people, who are renowned for their unique hairstyle and meticulous body adornments. Every Monday you get a chance to visit the biggest market of the Hammer people. Turmi market is famous for the gathering of many tribes from various directions of the area. Here you might come across the Hammer people’s marriage ceremony where you can see the famous bull-jumping initiation ceremony, which the men have to go through to cross over to manhood. Meanwhile, women have to undergo a painful slashing ritual to demonstrate their love for their mates. If you are interested to know more about the tribes who live in these villages, read our article about the Omo Valley Ethiopia Tribes.
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