A Different World

We arrived at Paradise lodge late on Tuesday evening.  The drive through the hills and mountains was very scenic and the landscape started to change becoming much less lush and more like Arizona, except more scrubby.  As I pulled back my curtains in the morning I was greeted by a view of Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo with the sun rising over both creating a contrast in shadows behind.  I had heard the landscape around Arba Minch is dramatic and I have to agree.  The scale of the landscape is what struck me.

Leaving Arba Minch and Paradise Lodge, entering the Rift Valley is an awe inspiring sight with a long flat plain extending left and right with a large mountain range as a back drop.  The drop into it was much smaller than I expected and once in the valley it feels like a vast plain and at times quite flat and monotonous.

At one point we came across a village moving one of their huts (Tukle’s) about 100 yards.  It was odd to see the hut moving down the road with lots of legs.

After a five hours of driving we arrived in a small town in Hamer territory and as I looked out of the window, it felt like I had landed on another planet.  For the most part, western clothes were not worn by the women who instead wore ornate beading and animal skins.  In theory, I should have been ready for this but was not.  When Piper asked if we wanted to shoot in the market in the town there and then, I was relieved when we all agreed to wait until that evening.

As luck would have it, one of the local villages was holding a celebration in honor of the transformation of a boy into a man by completing the bull jumping ceremony.  Each boy has to run back and forth across the backs of a series of bulls before they can be considered a man.  We missed the bull jumping but arrived in time for the party which consisted of much tribal dancing, lots of drinking by the Hamer people and a feast of three goats, supplied by the family of the bull jumper.

This was truly a step back in time and even though the influence of the western world is growing (the brother of the bull jumper was wearing a Chelsea FC shirt), it was an authentic experience and one we were grateful for being able to share.  How long this remains instead of a show for the tourists in a fake village is not clear.



4 thoughts

  1. Andy, your photos are just fantastic. You really bring us into the mix. Thank you so much. I know what you mean about the authentic becoming the tourists attraction.

  2. These are really amazing, Andy. I love the airborne shots. It is mesmerizing even in a photo. Can’t imagine what it must have been like to be there. Thanks so much for sharing the photos and your journal entries.

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