Omo River Area

Overview

Introduction

This river, which empties into Lake Turkana on the border with Kenya, was home to some of the earliest hominids. Human fossils have been found there that are more than 3 million years old. The Mursi and Hamer people are among the dozen or so tribes that inhabit the area today, living traditional lifestyles little changed from their forefathers.

The Mursi are best known for their practice of inserting large clay plates into the lower lips and earlobes of the tribe's married women. It is thought that the custom evolved from a practice originally designed to make women unattractive to slave traders but which came to represent an image of beauty within the tribe. Although it may be tempting to take photographs of these women, visitors should be aware of the Mursi's sensitivity to camera-toting tourists: Ask before you shoot, and expect to pay the subject a small fee. Animals such as crocodiles, hippos and splendid birds also inhabit the area, which lies 250 mi/400 km southwest of Addis Ababa.

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