I communicated with many travel agencies for the tour, drivers only, guides only in Arba Minch, Jinka and read the reports of travelers. I checked the price for everything (entrance fees for every tribe village, fees for camping in tribes village, bull jumping ceremony, museum, boat, trek, canoe…everything). I must say that each of them was very willing to give any information.
We didn’t want to select a predetermined program by the travel agency (travel package). And we don’t prefer a big travel agency with many other travelers but small local company. We would like to follow our program and take our time.
We have chosen to trust Ephrem Girmachew
(southernethiopiatours-gmail-com ) and his small travel agency from Arba Minch and he did not disappoint us. He offered normal price for everything with no hidden costs, but our gratitude is for more, his choice of the best assistant for driver (Mike)!!! Miki made the difference. The private car (model 2015) was in an excellent condition, 4X4, air conditioned & seat belt including petrol fuel!
Believe me it is better for you to find someone to take care of everything. It is best to put your hand in your pocket only once.
Ephrem (guide) and Mike (driver) picked us from Bole Airport in Addis Ababa and drove to Arba Minch. We visited in Dorze, Hamer, Karo, Arie, Dessanech, Mursi and Konso tribes village with local guides. The local guides, Asu from Hamer tribe in Turmi and Kamo from Karo tribe made us good impression.
Ephrem organized and took care of everything: private car with driver and fuel for 9 days, choice of the best assistants (driver, local guides in tribes, trek guide and scout in Lake Chamo), entrance fees in tribes villages (Dorze village in Arba Minch, Hamer, canoe to visit the Dassanech village, Karo, Arie, Mursi village in Mango National Park, Konso village, fees for our staying in tribes village, everything we needed for our camping with the tribes (tents, mattresses, blankets), boat trip in Lake Chamo and trek in Neck National Park, entrance fee park, entrance fee museum in Jinka).
We took care for the food (breakfast, meal, water, coffee, beer), and accommodation.
We stayed three (3) nights with tribes in tents. Ephrem found and carried for us tents and mattresses…. We had very good time with the tribes. Most tribe people were friendly but, they were asking money for photos. We knew this from the beginning and we had decided, before landing in Ethiopia, that we wouldn’t pay for photos. Free from the thought of photos, we had the best moments with the tribes, it was amazing!!!
We visited markets in Jinka, Key Afar and Dimeka and we saw people from many different tribes. It was beautiful in the markets but if you want to pay a gift you must bargain very hard for this.
We were also very lucky, we had the opportunity to witness the Bull jumping and whipping ceremony, two special rituals that prepare both men and women for marriage. This was the most fabulous part of our trip around Omo valley and the ceremony the best ever.
Also, Ephrem gave us beautiful time in Lake Chamo. We had boat trip and the opportunity to see crocodiles, hippos, eagles, pelicans. We continued in Nech National Park that we sew zebras and gazelles!!!!
All of the above are very important for someone who has spent money on an experience and feels happy because this experience proved to be excellent!
• If you want to visit the tribes you must pay entrance fee, local guides and every photo!! Don’t pay!!!!
• If you are an adventure kind of person you can stay in tents with some tribes at their village.
• Tribe tourism creates often many problems. Sometimes, tribe people are too persistent and they require the tourists to take pictures of them and make them pay, even they threaten the tourists who don’t wish to do so.
• It should be noted that the vast majority of foreign visitors to Southern Ethiopia arrive in villages by 4WDs and focus on taking photographs. The aim here is to arrive on foot and focus on learning and visiting before photography. This way we hope to avoid parts of the problems arising from tribal tourism which has begun to plague some of the more visited areas.
• Don’t allow to guides and driver to drink and do local drugs (chat).
• Don’t give money, pencil, gifts at children. We gave some balloons at Mursi children and from that moment everything changed ….!!!
• Arie children in Jinka robbed one of us. The children are very skillful, they play behind you with your bag and they open the zipper of your bag.
• We paid 20B/person to visit the coast of the lake to see the birds but it wasn’t worth it!! It was very dirty and half a meter from the lake coast we saw birds eating a dead horse.
• Some roads are with asphalt while others not. Driving there is very difficult because people and animals walk on the road all day until late at night. We saw many accidents with heavy vehicles.
I think, the most important is to choose the best guide (travel agency) and an experienced driver.
Ephrem is the proper choice, we want to thank Ephrem for the excellent organization in Omo Valley, the best choice of assistants (driver and local guides), his help at the local hotels and restaurants and the excellent, careful driving by Miki Yasnigussie.
We recommend Ephrem unreservedly. I hope to help you!!!