I’d like to recommend a tour guide operator for South Omo Valley who took a group of friends and myself on an unforgettable journey. Lalo Desse (firstname.lastname@example.org) was raised in Jinka and has many friends and family still living in the area and within some of the tribes themselves. Some of the reasons I recommend his services:
– While Lalo is a younger operator who has been running his own tour company for only few years, he is very adept at organizing activities and reservations. When unexpected events occured (and they will), he was quick to remedy the situation. And while he may be dressed casually and wearing a turtle-shell necklace (unlike the uniformed guides of other tour companies), his genuine warmth towards tourists and excitement for what he does really shows through.
– Very reasonably priced, especially compared to other tour operators which I contacted. He also offers the choice of a minivan vs 4×4. We chose the former (sans A/C) to save on costs and had a great time rocking the “party bus”.
– Having friends and relatives in the tribe, Lalo gave us the incredible experience of sleeping overnight in tribal villages. This was the highlight of the trip and offered us a glipse into real day-to-day activities of some of the tribespeople.
– Unlike the convoys of 4×4’s you will see on the road, Lalo travels solo. While I can’t compare it to the larger group trips, we all enjoyed our intimate experience with Lalo, his driver, and the mechanic, and by the end we felt like a group of old friends. He also encouraged us to take our time to see the villages and tribes, unlike other tour operators I contacted who wanted to cram in as many tribes in as few days as possible.
– Conscious of the effects of tourism on the local tribes, Lalo was keen to inform us on good stewardship of the local economy. We even saw him interject when he saw tourists pulling over in Mago National Park to take roadside pictures of children who dressed up to attract photos (supposedly illegal by tribal regulations)
Overall, I’d highly recommend Lalo and his services, especially for those looking for a personal approach and access to some of the off-the-road experiences South Omo has to offer.