Cultural tours

In 1980, UNESCO acknowledged the Lower Omo Valley as a World Heritage Site in respect to its special cultural and physical significance to the world at large. So many diverse tribes and communities exist in this valley unlike anywhere in the world. Carlo Conti Rossini, the first foreigner to visit the area described the land as a “Museum of People”. It has been a crossroads for humans migrating in many directions over many millennia.

Paleontologists have discovered precious remnants of our shared heritage: the oldest known remains of anatomically modern human, who hunted and gathered here an estimated 195,000 years ago. DNA analysis suggests that every person now living is related to a single woman from the Omo Valley, some of whose descendants left the Horn of Africa during a period of climate change and migrated between 60,000 and 120,000 years ago, Over 200,000 Omo pastoralists, cultivators, and hunters still follow the ancient lifestyles. Tribes such as Bodi (Me’en), Daasanach, Kara (or Karo), Kwegu (or Muguji), Mursi and Nyangatom live along the Omo River and other tribes such as the Hamar, Chai, Suri, Turkana, Ari and Bannalive further from the river but have a network of inter-ethnic alliances.

Men, women, and children ritually decorate themselves to express status and tribal identity They coat their hair with animal fat and clay, practice scarification of their limbs and torsos, wear hand-made jewelry consisting of beads, bone, and metal, and regularly painting their whole bodies with white minerals, black charcoal, and red and yellow ochre. The incredible survival of these traditions and genuine rituals such as bull jumping, kale (body fat contest) and stick fighting is still present amongst the various tribes and can be witnessed.

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