I was in South Omo – Ethiopia last month to visit the tourism spots in this rather remote part of the country.

I always enjoy going there and usually comeback with mixed feelings.

On the surface anyone visiting parts of the area may be impressed by the different tribes and cultures that still exist there, the beautiful people and their attire, the vast land that they occupy with their live stock, to mention just a few.

One evening we were treated to cultural dances and a traditional barbecue, which consisted of roasted leg of lamb, the likes of which I never tasted before. The sky at night was bright with a magnificent display of countless stars.

South Omo is still regarded as one of the main tourist attractions of Ethiopia. Most of the tribes in south Omo are nomadic cattle herders, although more and more people are settling down around towns and relief distribution points, depending on their live-stock for a living.

The Mursi, usually naked, may deck themselves out in a white bark belt, leather strap ornamented with notches, and short skin garment.

They are numbered about 5,000 and have been a subject of television documentaries also they are best known for being pure Omotic-speakers.

They, like many Omotic speakers, are fond of body-scaring, a practice which along with body painting, is taken to garish extremes by the Karo people of the village of Doose.

Most Omotic villages welcome visitors, though you will be expected to pay to take photographs. Due to the remoteness of the area, the best way to visit the Omo area is on an organized Safari.

Tourists often want to buy a souvenir or two from the particular area they visit and although there is a good variety of souvenirs available in the capital, buying items and utensils locally adds some value to their authenticity.

I was also spending a night in Konso as the people are friendly and have an unusual culture. At Turmi, the main town of the Hamer, the Monday market is a must to visit.

The main square fills with the Hamer market goers, selling vegetables, spices, butter and milk. It’s a great place for picking up the beautiful incises gourds which are used by the local women as shopping baskets and as a sort of hand bag for stashing cash.

The best time to visit the lower Omo Valley is during the dry season, from June to August and November to February because roads can become impassable during the wet season.

Also to be able to withstand the high temperatures, visitors to the area must drink a lot of water and luckily there are now several brands of bottled water for sale in the towns.

Eskinder Hailu - Manager, Highway Tours

Eskinder Hailu
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