The lower Omo valley is home to a remarkable mix of small, but interesting and contrasting ethnic groups, literally fantastic. Overland cruise from the green, urban highlands in to the low lying plains of Omo valley feels like a journey not merely through space but also through time, as one overland the vast and thinly populated badlands that divides the mountainous center of Ethiopia from its counterpart in Kenya.
Omo valley is as close as one can come and overland to an Africa untouched land, the culturally diverse, immaculately colorful and defiantly traditionalist agro pastoralist, who inhabit the region seem to occupy a physical and psychic landscape little different to that of their nomadic ancestor, this is Africa as it once was, or as some might still imagine it to be, and its mere existence is at once wonderful and scarcely incredible.
Omo valley, the cultural Garden of Eden and a living museum, four of Africa’s major linguistic groups are represented, including the so called Omotic speakers, a language group endemic to lower Omo valley. All in all, depending on where one draws the lines, as two dozen of different tribes occupy Omo valley, some numbering tens of thousands and others no more than five hundreds, each of them culturally unique.
The most renowned of Nilo-Saharan language speakers are the Mursi and Surma, famed for practicing of inserting large clay plates in their lower lips of the women. The other important groups of the of Omo valley include the Hamer, Nyangatom, Karo, Dasenech, Arbore, Benna, Ari and Bodi, whose cultures and quirks of adornment, body scaring and painting.
Omo valley is there to show you the colorful and dramatic traditional ceremonies including the “Bull Jumping” the ceremony take place by the Hamer youngster the taste to pass from the childhood to early adulthood and getting a chance to choose the right girl for marriage, the colorful Hamer’s youngsters traditional dance called “Evangadi” as well as the ritual take place by the Surma and Mursi tribe called “Donga”, stick fight in which two contestants painted in white chalk paste pummel each other violently with heavily two meter long poles, as the Hamer do the bull jumping, are fascinating and admirable to see. The overland cruise along the rift valley region south to the Omo valley offers an opportunity to cross and explore the untouched and real Africa topography along with its colorful inhabitants, unique way of life and vibrant weekly tribal market days.