Ethiopia: Omo River Valley 2015

The tribal people that reside in the Omo River Valley in the far southwest of Ethiopia may be some of the most unique on the African continent. They are known for their cultural practices, which are based on ancient beliefs, as well as their interaction with the physical environment. They adhere to the lifestyle of their ancestors, living in the same harsh, unforgiving landscape.

The Omo River is the lifeline for these tribes. They rely on the natural flood cycles of the river for the sustainable practice of floods – recession farming, fishing and livestock grazing. Like the generations before them they plant sorghum, maize and beans in the riverside soils after the yearly flood. They rely on the moisture and nutrient-rich sediment the Omo deposits each year to nourish their crops, and this is their sustenance.

Hominid fossils have been found all along the river banks and the earliest existence of mankind is believed to have started here. Scientist believe that the river was an artery of life and because of the fossils found there, it has been declared a World Heritage Site. The people of the Omo have learned to adapt to their challenging environment in order to survive for this long.

The Ethiopian government in its desire to generate economic growth, development and revenue has allowed the construction of the massive Gibe III hydroelectric dam, the largest in Africa. This dam is a source of much debate about the possible damage it will cause to the ecosystem, animals and local tribal communities.

This was my third cultural photography tour in which I visited numerous tribal communities with Epic Photo Tours. I can not adequately convey to you how much I am taken by these beautiful, proud and traditional people.I hope my images express what my heart feels.

Omo River Valley beauty reclining on tree trunk

three Omo River Valley women in tribal dress

Omo River Valley child, held by woman behind him

Omo River Valley woman with necklaces

Omo River Valley children

Omo River Valley youth holding rifle

Omo River Valley with rifle on strap

Omo River Valley youth in body art

Omo River Valley youths

Omo River Valley child with beautiful eyes

basket of eggs held in hands

Omo River Valley villagers dancing

Omo River Valley villagers dancing


  1. I don’t know how it is possible but your photos get better and better. Each one conveys a story. You capture so much in your subjects. The lighting is perfection.
    Put more photos on each blog. I always get to the last photo and want more.

    The Omo people are beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing your life experiences with the world.

  2. Simply Stunning. I love the black and white. The lighting in them is so powerful and really captures the subject’s individuality. Already dreaming about going with you next year!!

  3. Spiritual, beautiful pictures that capture SO much more than a physical presence!!!! Jackie just forwarded this to me, and I will thank her. I love these, Michelle. I knew you were talented, having seen some of your past photos. But now I am hooked!!!!!! Obviously, these indigenous, isolated people accept you and your desire to capture their images. How do you do THAT? It’s remarkable!

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