The Omo Valley Expedition
The Omo Valley in Ethiopia, where there are, on a relatively small area, many different tribes, is an amazing place for anyone who, like us, is interested in traditional life of indigenous people.
We went there in 2010 for the first time. First of all we wanted to meet the famous Mursi and Surma, but also the little known Nyangatom. We also stopped shortly at the friendly and photogenic Hamer, and the Dassanech, who were not exactly welcoming.
Our strategy was to walk as much as possible, get far away from the roads and meet the people who are not often visited by tourists. We wanted to get some idea of how these people really are and how is their everyday life
Also, we are always looking for a local guide, someone who speaks the local language and is well received by the tribal people.
For example, we ended up going to the Mursi with the whole team; we had a young Mursi with us who did not speak any English and also two young boys from Jinka, Solomon and Fasil, who did. Especially Solomon was absolutely superb in dealing with people, and yet he was only twelve years old! ”This is Africa, sir”, he told me when we we were reluctant to hire someone so young. The last member of our group was the Mursi ’scout’ Agenya – the scout in the Omo Valley means an armed guard, who is mandatory when going to the Mursi or Surma.
In Kibish we heard some stories about the tourists who went to the Surma without an armed scout and many of them had - supposedly - returned without their backpacks. So we were glad that we had with us the Surma scout named Nakuya, even though he after two days of walking was complaining all the time – what kind of tourists we are that we don't even have a car ...! But we noticed very well, that when we stayed in the villages he kept his eyes on us and our stuff all the time. However our experience with the Surma (and the Mursi) was a very happy one.
We have returned to the Omo Valley again in July 2011. It was our second expedition
to the Surma, and also to the Nyangatom. You can read more on Surma - Expedition 2011.