South Omo visit

Georgen Reeves writes:

Here is my report about our great trip in South Ethiopia and just took a trip to the Omo Valley in Ethiopia to photograph the tribes in the Omo Valley.

After arriving in Addis Ababa ,the first 3 days are driving days. You might think we went a long way since we drove for 3 days but you would be mistaken. The roads are dirt/gravel and the cows and goats have the right of way. If the map I looked at was correct we traveled about 400 miles over the 3 days and we went from early morning to late afternoon/dusk every day. We honked our way along and made a few quick stops for photos but it was just slow driving.

We stayed in hotels on the travel days but we were on the non-tourist west side of the Omo River. The first hotel was on the nicer side (for a developing country) but the second left a bit (lot!) to be desired. The shower didn’t work at all in 2 of the rooms, 1 room didn’t have hot water and the 4th room did but it ran out when the first person was half finished showering. They did have flush toilets with TP, dirty sheets, doors that barely locked, windows that didn’t shut and they did have mosquito netting for the bed. The beer was cold and the food was good.

The 3rd night we arrived at our first village where we camped. We were quickly surrounded by children as we would be everywhere we went. Robel was pretty good about making sure we weren’t too mobbed and shooed the kids away after the initial meet and greet.

We met with the chief of the tribe and our trip leader, Piper, made financial arrangements to photo some of the people. I’m told that regular tourists pay 1 or 2 birr per click of the camera. We aren’t as good a photographers as they are and it takes us many clicks to get an image we are happy with so we made an arrangement for group rates. Usually it was 10 birr per photographer per subject (I’ll refer to them as models to make it easier). So if all 4 of us photographed one model, that model received 40 birr. This arrangement worked well for the first couple of tribes but towards the end of the trip the same arrangements were made but the models wanted more money. Each of us would choose our model and take photos and pay. Sometimes the model would then want to argue. Sometimes I would keep the money and just walk away and later the model would approach me with their hand out and accept the same amount I offered in the first place. Sometimes the model would follow me around (cussing me out, probably) and then I would call for our guide, Robel, or the translator. We picked up a translator/guide before we went into any village so any problems could be worked out. Sometimes some of us would leave in one vehicle and leave the guides there still arguing with the tribes people. (lots of sometimes in there. sorry!)

I am glad that I visited one of the most fascinating tribes in Africa, which are found in the Lower Omo valley, South Ethiopia. This trip was organized by Leola Ethiopian Tour. The manager, Samson Ferede, is responsive to our emails, flexible and understand our concerns… Their vehicles are new and luxurious off road 4×4’s ….We highly recommend this company for anyone who wishes travel in Ethiopia ….www.leolaethiopiantour.com

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