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omo valley tribes photo tour

Congratulations to ORYX’s Marius Coetzee who was announced overall winner of the prestigious African Culture Category with his image titled “The Karo”


Nature’s Best Photography originated in the United States with ambitious goals to celebrate the beauty and diversity of nature through the art of photography and to use this vivid medium as a creative tool for encouraging greater public interest and involvement in outdoor enjoyment and conservation.

A robust awards program evolved from this mission to become one of the most highly-respected nature photography competitions in the world and now run in exhibition partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Nature’s Best Photography Africa is a new extension of this globally recognized program with ambitious plans to become the premier African focused photographic competition of today, bringing special attention to the spectacular diversity of Africa’s flora and fauna.

Natures Best Photography Africa is proudly run in association with the prestigious Iziko South African Museum, located in Cape Town.


The Omo Valley is without a doubt one of my favourite photographic locations in Africa. Located in far southern Ethiopia, this region is raw, a little bit edgy and is full of incredible photographic opportunities. This was my fourth visit to the Karo, an ethnic tribe living on east bank of the Omo River who practise flood retreat cultivation, their main crops being maize, sorghum and beans. Unlike the majority of the other omo valley tribes in the region, they keep only a small number of cattle due to the prevalence of disease-carrying Tsetse flies.

A commonality they share with many of the other omo valley tribes however, is the custom of painting their bodies and faces with white chalk to prepare for ceremonies, while other decorative features of the Karo include facemasks, and clay hair buns adorned with feathers.

On this visit to omo valley, I was determined to capture an image unlike any before, and after spending several hours with the people in this particular village, I decided to reach for my trusty fish-eye lens.

Using a translator, I ensured that the group of ladies understood what I was attempting to do. The ladies thought it most amusing to see me lying on the ground, but quickly huddled around me in order for me to get the image.

Lying on my back on the sun-baked earth, I was now surrounded by a huddled group of half-naked ladies. I dialed up my aperture in order to ensure a depth of field that would do justice to my subjects, and used fill in flash to light the ladies’ faces up and add the catchlight to their eyes. To my surprise, the group of ladies seemed quite pleased with the resultant photograph! It truly was an incredible (and highly amusing) experience, and I was glad that I managed to capture the fascinating Karo people in a unique way.

We at ORYX offer comprehensive coverage of the Omo Valley, and we have used our wealth of knowledge to offer the best Omo Valley photographic tours available to this unique cultural destination.

“Now, many Companies sell the Omo Valley tours. Just forget about them. If you are a photographer just Google ORYX Photography and sign a tour with them! This was not only a ‘tour’ this was a real experience with real people and a real leader.” – Adalberto Mangini, ITALY

“My trip to the Omo Valley with ORYX expeditions and Marius Coetzee was like a dream, like a walking meditation. Every detail is so very well ironed out that you forget you are in some of the remotest parts of the world. He will always have his ear to the ground for the rumblings in the valley. Giving you indelible memories is what he is after. No corners are ever cut to ensure your comfort. If some unexpected situation does arise, his steady and calm leadership will keep you centered. You know that he will put your safety first no matter what.” – TriVid, INDIA

“Marius – I really don’t have words to describe your commitment towards your clients, your passion for photography, your people skills and ability to deal with different situations. Kirsty you have asked if the tour was up to my expectations. To be honest well above exceeded my expectations..uncle Marius is the best.” – Biljana Jurukovski, AUSTRALIA

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