On the road to Jinka, you pass various animals. We saw baboons, donkeys, goats and many colourful birds.
The best was a wild camel that chased a man (who was scared to death). We were later told that the camels grab people by the neck and throw them in the air.
The road to Jinka
The road to Jinka is long and hot, but on the way there are many great sights.
Some of the highlights are the tribes (seperate tip), the youngsters trying to impress to earn your 2 Birr, people selling hand made goods, wildlife, termites (seperate tip), dust devils (seperate tip).
To visit any of the tribes of the Omo Valley, you must have your own 4x4. The road is terrible and even a 4x4 struggles in wet times.
There are many tribes to visit, but each are located a long way apart, so allow half a day (or even a full day) for each tribe.
The most famous tribe are the gun toting, lip plated Mursi. We decided to visit them.
Before leaving Jinka, you must pick up an armed guide (65 Birr). Once into the National Park (100 Birr per person 80 Birr per car), we drove for 2 hours is pouring rain. Eventually, we got stuck in the mud and from nowhere, a pack of Mursi people appeared to push us out of the mud (100 Birr). We continued on to the Mursi village (50 Birr per person).
Upon arrival, you will be beseiged by the entire village. Men, women and children grab at you shouting "2 Birr, 2 Birr" (the price for one photo).
If you click more than one person, they all expect payment. Many women conceal babies under their clothes in order to demand double payment (2 people).
Make sure you keep valuables in the locked car, as the Mursi are in your pockets.
After photos, they try to get you to buy lip plates etc (5 Birr Small, 10 Birr large).
An experience that will stay with you for ever. Sadly, it shows how a tribe can go for thousands of years unaffected, but have changed for the worse in just 5 years thanks to tourism and cash.
- National/State Park
- Arts and Culture
Mago National Park
In Jinka we stayed at the Rocky Recreation Campsite. From Jinka a track leads to the Mago National Park. You need your own (rented) vehicle to reach the park.
To reach the park we first crossed two rather deep rivers. The sky was very cloudy. So at this viewpoint we stopped and the drivers looked at the sky and asked us, if we would move on. If it should start to rain, we had to go back immediately.
We decided to pay the entrance fee (70 birr pro person and 100 bir pro car) and to take the risk. En route we understood why it was impossible to drive here with heavy rains, because the track was climbing and going down and was very bumpy too.
Because of poaching in the park the populations of the animals are rather low.
We saw baboons, colobus monkeys and dikdiks and heard of a killed elephant 7 KM from the headquarters.
Luckily there was no rain, so we could reach our destination, the Mursi Territory to visit one of their villages. On our way to the village we met allready the first naked and body-painted Mursi boys, who tried to jump at our 4 WDs.
- National/State Park
Key Afar, the people
The people of Ethiopia wear many different types of clothing. The traditional dress in the northern Christian highland peasantry has traditionally been of white cotton cloth and wrap-around blankets.
Here in the Oromo Region the people are wearing bead-decorated leather garments, that reflects their economy, based on livestock. So the costumes reflect in some extent the different regions, lifestyles and climate.
In the Oromo region the people live in very hot, dry and difficult conditions, which don't promote longevity. So, you don't see many people older than 45 years. The most -younger- people we met, looked very self-confident, strong and healthy.
Besides wearing leather clothing, decorated with beads and kaurishells, the people still use the traditonal calabashes as watercontainer. You don't see hardly any plastic around.
Key Afar, cattle and grain
The Banna people, living around Key Afar, are pasturalists. Travelling in the countryside, you will meet often boys with their herds. Most of the time they spend the night between their cattle.
There is also some agriculture in the area, but the hot and dry climate and the infertile land are not very suitable for this kind of living.
At the market of Key Afar we saw this herd of cows and people, selling grain. Other products they sell, are butter and an alcoholic local brew.
Key Afar, thursday market
Thursday is the marketday in Key Afar. Arriving at the marketplace, we saw a lively market with a lot of people sitting all around at the ground with their trade, animatedly chatting about the lates news in the area.
At first sight the crowdy place was very overwhelming with all its beautiful people with interesting costumes and hairstyles.
Most people were of the Banna tribe, but we saw also visitors of other tribes, allthough it was hard to recognise the differences between the tribes.
The Banna girls were wearing beautiful goatskin skirts, at the back ending in a kind of tail, some decorated with colourful beads and shells. Later in a bar at the mainstreet, a boy offered me a decorated Banna skirt for 80 $. It looked wonderful, but I decided not to start the bargaining, so I could keep my luggage light, having more than one month travelling ahead.
Key Afar, one of the main marketplaces
After descending in the Lower Omo Valley, the first town we visited was Key Afar.
Comparing to the highlands, it is extremely hot in the valley and Key Afar.
On our walk from the road to the marketplace for the thursday market, we saw some little shops and a lot of local people, most of the Banna tribe. The Banna people, living in the area of Key Afar, are pastoral people, but try also to practise some agriculture and do some hunting.
- Arts and Culture
In and around Jinka, you will see some other tribes people doing business or visiting friends.
We were lucky enough to see some Tsemay and Hamer people.