Journey to the Omo Valley, Ethiopia

July 28 2015

The local honey wine called tej was being passed around the bus in a jerry can & we were stopped 3 times by the traffic police for being overcrowded only to pick up more passengers along the way. That was a long 9 hour journey in the heat. My rucksack was perched on top of the bus, tied down with string. Glad I didn't pack anything valuable!

I based myself with a volunteer organisation called Big Beyond who are working in partnership with the Hamar tribe. Far from any city, within Africa's Great Rift Valley, the South Omo is home to about 200,000 ancient tribal people living as they have for centuries. It's so steeped in history that the discovery of fossils there has been of fundamental importance to the study of evolution. They have a very different cultural background from other Ethiopians. There are around 15 semi-nomadic tribes in the area and they're truly among the most fascinating people in the world.

I camped under giant mango trees in the aptly named Mango Camp, a local community run campsite. I pitched my tiny tunnel tent next to a dry sandy river bed surrounded by colobus monkeys & the odd camel. It's very close to where Channel  4's The Tribe was filmed this year and the film crew were based in Mango Camp. The campsite was very close to Buska Lodge, one of only a handful of accommodation options in the Turmi area. Perched next to the river bed, the lodge has a large dining area with indoor & outdoor options & plenty of accommodation all decorated in a traditional round thatched hut style. There are also camping options available. It's a very popular choice in the area. Turmi Lodge is another alternative with beautiful views of the surrounding landscape however it is rundown, lacking in style and the layout is not ideal.

The landscape is beautiful, with sweeping views across the bush, desert and forests to far away horizons, dusty red roads, hot sun and quite simply a feeling that you're right in the middle of the real Africa. The Omo River runs through the valley and empties into Lake Turkana, in Kenya, and the Omo Valley national parks are home to a wide variety of stunning wildlife.

Next stop...Living with the Hamar Tribe in the South Omo. Read On >

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