David Whetham review 11 Apr 2013
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
While in Turmi, we were able to watch the Hamer festivity where the boy marks his passage from boy to adult by jumping the bulls. Not fixed, or touristy. For me, easily the highlight of the trip!
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
None really... anyone that is traveling here on this type of trip is probably an experienced traveler. Not everything is going to work the way your used to, there are power outages, no internet because the server is down, etc. Thatís what makes this type of travel interesting, for me anyway... expect the unexpected!
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Not really... how do you not impact local people when you are visiting tribes that are still somewhat living the way they have been for hundreds of years. We show up with cameras, go click, click, click... and pay money to do so?
I do feel the locals that live across the river from the Karo people (south of Turmi), are exploiting the tribe. Didn't get the impression they cared much about them. But we had to pay them in order to see them.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Very good, and i was very happy with the guide (Mr Ayele)and the driver... very professional and knowledgeable (speaking of Mr Ayele) on the areas we went. You could tell he was well respected by the locals as well.
Read the operator's response here:
Mr. Whetham has raised an important point that made us give more emphasis on trips we organize especially to the lower Omo valley. However, I donít think we should conclude that tourism would have a negative impact on the tribes neither said the tribes themselves. Done responsibly, it would rather help them value, learn, promote, and maintain their uniqueness.
Photos are not mandatory but visitors, should they feel to take a picture of a particular person, are required by the same to make small payments. The process can sometimes be a bit awkward. However, it can be managed if travelers are not too desperate for taking pictures as we always advise.
Regarding the positive economic impact the tourism makes, there is much reliance of the locals on it. They need it as they are benefited and better empowered than they use to be years back.
Entrance fee is paid for the local tourism office. The local tourism office hires scouts and guides from the same; contributions are always given for the village elders; markets are also among the highlights where visitors buy souvenir items.
I would like to thank Mr. Whetham for raising the issue which we will also do the same to all participants.