Tribal Site Tour

Wildlife and beautiful scenery aside, this part of the country is home to many diverse and fascinating people and cultures. Cultural tour of Ethiopia enables one to understand the harmonious diversity of the nation. There are 83 languages and 200 dialects spoken throughout Ethiopia. The culture in Ethiopia is truly exotic, untouched and authentic. Far from the modern life, the people in far field are with natural and rustic life style that feels our origin.

On the fringes of the national parks, the lower Omo Valley is home to a remarkable mix of small, contrasting ethnic groups – not only the Bume and the Kari, but also the Geleb, the Bodi, The Mursi and the Surma, the Arbore and the Hamer to name but a few. Lifestyles are as varied as the people themselves.

Lacking any material, culture and artifacts common to more `civilized` peoples, these tribes find unique ways in which to express their artistic impulses.

They are renowned for the strange custom followed by their women who, on reaching maturity, have their lower lips slit and circular clay discs inserted. The larger the disc is the more desirable the wearer.



The Geleb


Sculpt their hair with mud into extravagant shapes, topped off with a red orchid mud `cap` to hold an ostrich feather or two. Goatskins are plentiful and most women wear leather skirts, often embroidered with colorful beadwork or cut into long strips.

The karo

Like the Surmas utilize various clays and vegetable dyes to trace amazing patterns on one another`s faces, chests, arms and legs. Just like a Geleb sculpt their hair with mud into extravagant shapes, topped off with a redochred mud `cap` to hold an ostrich feather or two. Goatskins are plentiful and most women wear leather skirts, often embroidered with colorful beadwork or cut in to long strips.

The Mursi

The Mursi (or Murzu) are African nomadic cattle herder tribe group located in the South Omo Zone of the Southern Ethiopia, close to the Sudanese border. The estimated population of the Mursi is 6 to10 thousand. Surrounded by mountains between the Omo River and its tributary the Nino, the home of the Mursi is one of the most isolated regions of the country. Their neighbors include the Aari, the Banna, the Bodi, the Kara, the Kwegu, the Nyangatom and the Surma.

The Mursi have their own language, also called Mursi. Few are familiar with Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, and their literacy level is very low. The religion of the Mursi people is classified as Animism, although about 15% are Christians. The Mursi women are famous for wearing plates in their lower lips. These lip discs are made of clay. Girls are pierced at the age of 15 or 16.

The Mursi warriors still follow the custom of carving deep crescent shaped incisions in their arms to show the number of enemies they have killed in battle.

The Hammer

The Hammers are a tribal people in the Southern Region of Ethiopia. They live in Hamer Bena woreda (or district), a fertile part of the Omo River valley. They are largely pastoralists, so their culture places a high value on cattle. They are known for their practice of body adornment and wearing a multitude of colorful beads.

Women adorn their necks with heavy polished iron jewelry. Hamer society consists of a complex system of age groups. To pass from one age group to another involves complicated ritual. The most significant ceremony for young men is the "jumping of the bull" - the final test before passing into adulthood.

Several days before the ceremony, initiates pass out invitations in the form of dried knotted grass. The ceremony lasts three days. Late in the afternoon on the final day, ten to thirty bulls are lined up side by side. The naked initiate rushes towards the animal, vaults onto the first bull's back and then runs across the line of animals. At the end of the line he turns back to repeat the performance in the opposite direction. He must make this unstable journey without falling.

The Hamer men have a reputation of being less than adoring husbands. According to JP Dutilleux "the women submit to the ritual floggings proudly and love to show the deep scars that are regarded as a proof of devotion to their husbands”.

The Benna


The Benna are believed to number around 45,000; they inhabit the higher ground to the east of Mago National Park. Most practice agriculture though their diet is supplemented by hunting. If they manage to kill a buffalo, they decorate themselves with clay and put on a special celebration and feast for the whole village.


The Bume

The Bume, numbering around 8000, inhabit the land south of the Omo National Park, but sometimes invade the southern plains when fodder or water is scarce.
Like the Bodi, the Bume are agro - pastoralists, growing sorghum by the Omo and Kibish Rivers as well as fishing and rearing cattle. They also hunt in the park and smoke bees out of their hives for honey. They are known as great warmongers and at war with almost everyone, particularly the Karo, the Hamer and the Surma.

The Bume use scarification for cosmetic purposes, tribal identification and as indications of prowess in battle. Both men and women use little points or dots to highlight their eyes and cheekbones. The women also scarify their torsos with curvilinear and geometrical designs.

The Surma


Surma, who mix basic subsistence cultivation with small scale cattle herding, leads lives of harsh simplicity, uncluttered by the pressures and anxieties of the modern world outside. This Surma utilize various clays and vegetable dyes to trace amazing patterns on one another `s faces, chests, arms and legs.

Others Tribe

The Dorze
The Dorze people are famed for their intricately woven houses and their woven cotton cloth.

The Konso 
The Konso, who for centuries have practiced terracing and intensive agriculture in their steep land and are known for their wooden totems they erect over the graves of the dead.

The Bodi
The Bodi – numbering around 3500 are agro - pastoralists and their language is Nilo - Saharan in origin. They inhabit the northeast edge of Omo National Park.

The Dizi  
Inhabiting the northwest edge of Omo National Park, the Dizi are sedentary agriculturists, cultivating sorghum, root crops and coffee. They also practice terracing on the mountain slopes.

The Ari  
The Ari inhabit the northern border of Mago National Park and have a population of around 120,000 people. They keep large numbers of livestock and produce large amounts of honey, often used for trade. The women wear skirts made from the inset tree.