Ethiopia’s Omo Valley & Lalibela : Portfolio by Marius Coetzee
Ethiopia, a country located in the Horn of Africa, is bisected by the Great Rift Valley and to many, this may conjure images of caustic lakes, searing rock and desolate thornscrub, however these features belie the fact that this is country is home to highly fertile soils and abundant rainfall in the highlands that nurture abundant crops. As the home of coffee, and possessing a unique, delicious cuisine, this fast-developing nation fortunately retains much of its cultural distinctiveness. Our area of concern however, is focussed rather on Ethiopia’s cultural photographic opportunities in the south of the country.
ORYX’s “Omo Valley & Laibela Photo Tour” will explore one of the most ethnically diverse places on Earth – the Omo Valley. This is a cultural photo experience during which we will interact with several tribal communities who still live much as they did hundreds of years ago. This harsh and inhospitable place has over ten distinctly different tribes existing within a 38 mile / 60 km radius each with its own unique language, clothing, hairstyles and bodily ornamentation. Our photo tour focuses on four of these tribes: the Suri, Mursi, Karo and Hamar. Sadly, development and the ravages of modernization are threatening these unique peoples of the Omo Valley and as such it is a “see it while you can” destination.
Lalibela is home to the 12th century hand-carved rock churches of King Lalibela (1181 – 1221), after whom the town is named. Lalibela is truly an ancient world and includes 11 magnificent, medieval, rock-hewn churches, dimly lit passageways, and hidden crypts and grottoes carved into the red volcanic rock underlying this remote Ethiopian town, constructed almost a millennia ago by the Zagwe dynasty. Today that world still remains, frozen in stone, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These brilliant feats of engineering and architecture are often referred to as the “Eighth wonder of the World”. You will begin your exploration at the first group of churches of Lalibela, which are found northeast of a stream named ‘River Jordan’, which represent the earthly Jerusalem.
ORYX has been operating in Ethiopia for more than a decade, and our hard-won experience coupled with a strong relationship with the ground team ensure the ultimate photography tour experience.
ORYX has significant experience in leading photo tours to the Omo Valley. Our photo tour leaders are at pains to exercise a high level of cultural sensitivity when interacting with the various tribes, and along with our fantastic ground team, have nurtured relationships in the valley over many years.
The varied tribes of the Omo are facing increasing external influence, not all of it good. ORYX has taken time to get to know the people, and we value the friendships we have forged and choose to support these people as best we can.
Our longstanding friendships stand us in good stead when it comes to our photographic endeavours, allowing us access to key areas and providing our guests with dream photographic opportunities.
Join ORYX in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley
If this has whet your appetite to embark on your own Ethiopia photography tour, then feel free to consider one of the following two options: