Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

The Trip-Finder, January 1999
Touring the Tribal Homelands of the Omo Valley

Outfitters Price Accommodations
Turtle Tours Inc.
888-299-1439, www. turtletours
$4,050 camping

The Route: A 15-day jeep tour of the scrubby, termite-mound-dotted savanna homelands of isolated tribes that still practice such centuries-old traditions as body painting and scarification.

When to go: February, August, November

Difficulty: Easy

Travel advisory: Try to pick one of the two annual trips led by Irmal Turtle, whose longtime interest in these peoples and attitude of cultural respect have earned her several namesakes among village children.

High/low points:

  • Visiting the “singing wells” of the Burana tribe, where eerie, primordial work songs are chanted as water is passed hand to hand from deep underground
  • Seeing how AK-47s, bought cheaply from unemployed Sudanese soldiers, are replacing spears as weapons of choice for intertribal warfare.