Tourism is growing in South Omo, but the locals don't always see the benefits. Help develop tourist experiences that are respectful of the community.
About the Program
Tourism is really growing in the South Omo, but sadly, the locals rarely benefit from it. On the other side of the coin, the industry is not developing in a way that satisfies the tourist. Most tourists do not experience true Hamar culture and they are also not afforded the time to make genuine connections with Hamar individuals, in fact, they barely scratch the surface. It is however, very obvious why intrepid travelers would want to venture to this part of the world – to witness some of Africa’s last remaining tribes. Our goal is to localize the value chain of tourism and to put Hamar and the Omo Valley on the map as a sustainable tourism destination that’s creating real benefits for the local population.
The culture here is truly fascinating and there is an awful lot to learn, beyond the better known bull jumping tradition. There are a lot of proud locals whom would love to share their stories, culture and traditions, yet there’s currently no mechanism that allows them to do this. Tourists arrive with very little opportunity to really understand the culture and to explore the stunning place; it’s often a two day, in and out photo opportunity that can be somewhat voyeuristic, rather than educational. Our dream is to see an ethical sector develop before it’s too late, with local people genuinely taking the lead and understanding how to create an unforgettable experience for tourists.
The Hamar Tribe
This is a remarkable volunteering opportunity for adventurous and pioneering individuals to join us in remote southern Ethiopia. It is home to one of the last truly authentic tribes in Africa – the Hamar - a dream for many.
Through this program you will work directly with the Hamar Tribe, helping them look past today towards a more secure future, all within their own cultural boundaries. Far from any city, within Africa’s Great Rift Valley, you will live and work amongst the Hamar – an experience that few people ever get the opportunity to do.
Our volunteer programs in Ethiopia are entirely bespoke, matched to your individual skills, abilities and interests, yet always prioritizing long-term development and conservation goals. You’ll be part of a small and super passionate local and international team. If you join us you’ll be part of something new, unexplored and groundbreaking as we’re one of very few NGOs that has ever ventured this far south in Ethiopia. You’ll be offered a great level of autonomy throughout your project. In return, we ask for self-motivation, initiative, flexibility, enthusiasm and support for our capacity-building approach.
The long-term goal of our program here is to empower the Hamar community, helping them achieve their own ambitions, within respected cultural boundaries, and to work towards conserving the last remaining wildlife in Ethiopia's Mago National Park. We work at the grassroots level, listening closely to community needs and ambitions. We don't give handouts, we want to help the Hamar to help themselves through powerful, capacity raising activities.
You do not need to be a tourism expert, there are a wide range of roles that will suit people from different backgrounds and with different experience.
There are some great activities to do in your spare time, especially if you love being outdoors. You could take a walk along the dry riverbed of the local Kaskey River; go on bush walks; explore the distant mountains that are, as of yet, somewhat unexplored; take a trip to Mago National Park, or do some animal spotting a bit closer to home (countless birds and colobos monkeys are easy to spot); have a game of volleyball or badminton with the local Hamar guys; or take it easy back at camp with the magnificent views for company. You need to be more creative in the evenings for entertainment, but the vast African sky full of stars can mesmerise you for hours as you sit by the campfire.
Further afield, there are 14 other distinct tribes that you can visit. Even further than that, the rest of Ethiopia is just as unexplored as a tourist destination, but boasts great diversity - the mountainous North, the lush and tropical West and the dry and deserted, Muslim East. Not forgetting the capital, Addis Ababa, that has a great restaurant and bar scene and some fab museums. Activities are not included in the programme fee but we will help make arrangements for you in advance of your trip.
You will organize your transport from Addis Ababa airport to your hotel and to the domestic airport for your internal flight. Once you get to Arba Minch, one of our friendly Big Beyond team members will pick you up from the airport and take you to a hotel in the town center. You will spend one night in this beautiful lakeside town and then embark on the stunning 6 hour bus journey through the Omo Valley, the following day. You'll be accompanied at all times. Get a window seat, sit back & relax.
We have two site locations - one community-owned Hamar camp where you’ll have your own en-suite room, or you’ll be sharing, depending on availability. The other location is a campsite in a Hamar village where we have our own private area. You’ll be in a furnished tent (with mattress) and Big Beyond will provide mobile facilities for these occasions including tents, bedding, shower, toilet and cooking facilities. It's simpler that you might be used to, but we promise we'll make you feel at home!
You’ll be fully catered for with three meals a day, plus water, tea and coffee. We provide a menu with a mix of international dishes (curries, scrambled eggs or pasta) and some Ethiopian food (injera and rich vegetable or meat stews). Be prepared, we are remote, many ingredients are hard to source and there’s no refrigeration, so expect a less varied diet that’s mostly vegetarian, with protein coming from eggs and pulses.