Ethnic expedition to Ka'el festival of obese Bodi men, Donga stick fighting of Surma tribe and Hamar's Bull Jumping ceremony


June 15 – 21, 2024
Tour Southern Ethiopia

tour to Ethiopia Omo Valley Surma Donga festival Mursi Hamer expedition to Africa benna Bull Jumping Daasanech Nyangatom Karo tours to Africa

Dassanech Karo tribe Bulls jumping ceremony Assale Afar
The Great Rift Valley is the cradle of humanity, where on both banks of the Omo River dozens of tribes live in a traditional way, and some even remain in the Stone Age. Each of the tribes has its own distinctive cultural features and famous for their unique rites.

Our summer ethnic expedition to Omo valley aims to witness the most powerful festivals and ceremonies.
We attend the Donga stick fighting ceremony in Surma tribe, when men selflessly fight with sticks under play-off system in the hope of winning and taking any woman who came to the tournament.
Then, on another bank, we observe the Bull Jumping ceremony – the main male rite of passage among Hamar tribe.
As a quintessence of our expedition, we are delighted to immerse ourselves into the atmosphere of unique Ka'el festival, where obese Bodi men, in the presence of female jury, prove that "the bigger the most beautiful"!

Tour to South and North Ethiopia. The Great Rift Valley is the cradle of humanity, where on both banks of the Omo River dozens of tribes live in a traditional way, and some even remain in the Stone Age. Each of the tribes is distinctive and characterized by unique traditions, such as wearing lip plates by Surma people, the initiation ceremony of Hamer, where the boys must run across the backs of a dozen bulls, or Dassanech's smearing with manure.

Our ethnographic expedition sets off to the right bank of the Omo River, where every year, after the rainy season, Surma hold the Donga stick fighting festival, when men selflessly fight with sticks under play-off system in the hope of winning and taking any woman who came to the tournament.

Dates: June 15 – 21, 2024

: 7 days / 6 nights

Number of participants
: 6 – 12

Cost per person:
– 2 590 USD subject to 12 participants,
– 2 690 USD subject to 10 – 11 participants,
– 2 990 USD subject to 8 – 9 participants,
– 3 190 USD subject to 6 – 7 participants.

10% early booking discount (in case you book before February 15, 2024)

Everything is included except for:
– international flight to Addis Ababa roundtrip,
– domestic flights from Addis Ababa to Jimma and from Jinka to Addis Ababa,
– international medical insurance,
– Ethiopian visa (e-visa to be obtained in advance, or VoA in the airport of Addis Ababa, at 50 USD. The fee may change)

Estimated cost of flight from Moscow to Addis Ababa roundtrip: 800 – 950 USD (Usually bought on your own. We consult)
Estimated cost of flights from Addis Ababa to Jimma and from Jinka to Addis Ababa: about 300 USD (Usually bought on your own. We consult)

Single supplement: USD 220


Day 1. June 15, 2024. Addis Ababa – Jimma — Mizan

Early morning arrival in Addis Ababa (before 7:30 am).
At 10:35 am or 11:55 am connecting flight to Jimma, to the upper Omo Valley. Omo river originates here from Jimma.
Arrival in Jimma at 11:40 am or 13:00, respectively.
After lunch, we drive by 4WD jeeps directly to Mizan Tefari (215 km, 3 hrs drive).
Upon arrival in Mizan, dinner and overnight at Mizan Kashinin Hotel (the new built Salayshe Hotel).

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Kashnin Hotel (the new built Salayshe Hotel)

* Recommended flight from Moscow to Addis Ababa:
— with Ethiopian Airlines, direct flight, departure from Moscow on June 14 at 21:40, arrival in Addis Ababa the next day, June 15, at 6:00 am,
— or with Egypt Air, with a 5 hours stopover in Cairo, flight from Moscow with a departure at 16:55 on June 14 and an arrival in Addis Ababa at 7:20 am on next day, June 15,
— or any other flight arriving in Addis Ababa no later than at 7:30 am on June 15.

** Recommended flight from Addis Ababa to Jimma:
— with Ethiopian Airlines, direct flight, departure from Addis Ababa on June 15 at 11:55 am, arrival in Jimma at 13:00, or
— with Ethiopian Airlines, direct flight, departure from Addis Ababa on June 15 at 10:35 am, arrival in Jimma at 11:40 am.

Day 2. June 16, 2024. Mizan — Bebaka – Tulgit (Surma tribe)

We drive straight from Mizan to Tulgit, Surma area (110 km 3 hrs). On our way to Surma we'll have stop to visit the coffee forest of Bebaka which has been listed as UNESCO heritage site. Afterwards we drive straight to Upper Omo Valley, where we meet Surma tribe, one of the isolated tribes of the Omo Valley. The tribe originally came from Uganda due to slave trade, they were settled in South Sudan. In the early 18 century they became living at Ethiopian border.
After reaching Tulgit, we will camp at the campsite and have lunch.
Then we start exploring the Surma culture. We will visit one of the Surma villages to get known of their unique cultures and lifestyle. We will photograph Surma women with remarkable scars and huge lip plates.
Overnight at campsite in Tulgit.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping in Tulgit

Day 3. June 17, 2024. Surma area. Donga stick fighting ceremony

Early morning hike to nomadic cattle camp of Surma people where we'll have the chance to see the morning ritual of pastoralist Surma with their cattle, trying to drink as breakfast the mixture of fresh blood and milk from live cows.
Even if it is not a really season for big Donga festival, we will today witness the Donga stick fighting ceremony.
Every year, after the rainy season, when there is a surplus of food, Surma men from different clans gather to fight in battles on Donga sticks and define the strongest. Donga is a kind of rite of passage, the ceremony for the boys to become (and re-prove) real men, warriors who, in the event of tribal wars with neighboring tribes, will be ready to defend the honor of the tribe and preserve their cattle.
We will also witness body painting on the river bank, where young men apply the chalk onto the bodies of each other.
Dinner from the chef and overnight in camping at Tulgit Surma.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping in Tulgit

Day 4. June 18, 2024. Tulgit – Hana Mariam (Bodi tribe). Ka'el festival

Very early morning breakfast. And at 6 am at the latest, we start driving through Omo Park for some 400 km (about 8 hours) before we reach the area of Bodi tribe in Hana Mariam.
Bodi tribe is a part of Mekan people, who are pastoralists, as opposed to agriculturalists of Tishena. Both Bodi and Tishena (all Mekan) are a Surmic ethnic minority speaking Nilo-Saharan languages.
Bodi traditionally participate in a unique festival known as Ka'el, during which the Bodi women sexualize the process of Mekan men gaining weight, and assist and encourage them in becoming as fat as possible. Mekan women will often select partners during this festival, typically from among the men they assisted in becoming larger.
June is the high time of Ka'el festival. The dates are determined by the chiefs closer to the date according to lunar calendar. However, this ceremony happens in a number of villages on adjacent days. This afternoon and full next day, we will do our best in order to see the most interesting events of Ka'el festival in Hana Mariam area of Bodi tribe.
Overnight camping at Hana Mariam.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping in Hana Mariam

Day 5. June 19, 2024. Hana Mariam Bodi area. Ka'el festival

Today we explore the villages to meet the Bodi tribe where big is definitely beautiful: Bodi men compete to be the fattest in the village by drinking a gruesome mixture of blood and milk while living in isolation for about six months.
In Bodi, the fatter a man is, the more attractive he is to women. Every year in June, the tribe chooses the most prominent member of the tribe, the most obese man. Representatives of the stronger sex who want to take an honorable position in society must be unmarried. Preparation for the event lasts from 3 to 6 months. During this time, men are on a high-calorie diet based on cow's blood and milk. This nutrition doubles, in some cases triples, body weight. Bodi people have many cows, so they can provide food for the whole family. Thus, a fat man among the Bodi tribe is a symbol of well-being.
Participating Ka'el festival of Obese men od Bodi, arranging photography.
The women of the Bodi tribe are famous for their graceful beauty and their unique scarification. We will dedicate quite some time in order to disciver also this culture and take good photography.
In the late in the afternoon we will be back to our campsite for dinner and overnight.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: camping in Hana Mariam

Day 6. June 20, 2024. Hana Mariam – Mursi tribe – Hamar tribe – Turmi

Early in the morning we'll have a chance to stay up for morning photo at Bodi tribe. Afterwards we'll have breakfast from our chef and we leave Bodi for Mursi tribe in Mago National park (50 km, 1 hour).
We devote this morning to the study of the Mursi culture. The Mursi women, like their Surma cousins, live on the other bank of the Omo River, are famous for their large round (and not only) lip plates worn by women. There are several theories of the wearing of lip plates: disfiguring to prevent enslavement by Arabs in antiquity; protection against the penetration of evil spirits into the body through the mouth; determination of social status, showing the amount of cattle that the groom must pay as a dowry for the bride owning the plate.
Mursi are unsurpassed masters of scarification. The scars on their bodies symbolize social status and past merits. The scars are created by using a razor blade and camel thorn. To achieve a bulge, an ash or a fly larva is planted in the wound, which, among other things, eliminates all possible infections.
Proceed to Turmi area (195 km, 4 hours) and visit Hamar village. Hamar are distinguished by the fact that their women wear leather skirts decorated with shells, wear several copper bracelets on their hands and heavy iron necklaces around their necks, symbolizing their social status, and their hair is colored with ocher and animal fat. Men, in case of victory over the enemy or a dangerous beast, fix the hairstyle with clay and decorate with ostrich feathers. This hairstyle is carefully guarded — the Hamar sleep with a special borkotos chair under their neck.
Today afternoon we attend and witness Bull Jumping ceremony – the main ritual of the Hamar men, which is a rite of passage – entering adulthood, that is, becoming a man. The future man must 4 times run over the backs of 10-20 cows and bulls. Contester performs the ceremony naked, which symbolizes the childhood that he is going to leave. After successfully completing the rite, the young man is considered a maza – now he has the right to marry. Failure to pass this test makes the boy an outcast, a failure and deprives him of any opportunity to be successful.
Stay overnight at the lodge in Turmi.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Buska lodge in Turmi or similar

Day 7. June 21, 2024. Turmi — Jinka — Addis Ababa — Return flight

Early in the morning, at sunrise, final photography in Hamar tribal village.
Breakfast and leaving for Jinka (125 km, 2.5 hrs) to take the afternoon flight to Addis Ababa. Departure from Jinka at 14:05 (the schedule may change, as it is the only flight).
Arrival in Addis Ababa at 15:25.
Short city tour: visiting National museum with Lucy skeleton, the Orthodox Church and antique souvenir shop.
Transfer to the international airport terminal and take international flight back home late in the night.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: no

* Recommended flight from Addis Ababa to Moscow:
— Ethiopi44an Airlines direct flight, departure at 23:50 on June 21, arrival in Moscow at 7:40 am the next day, June 22,
— or Egypt Air with 2 hours 45 minutes stopover in Cairo, flight from Addis Ababa with departure at 4:10 am оn June 22 and arrival in Moscow at 15:55 on June 22,
— or any other flight with departure from Addis Ababa no earlier than at 21:00 on June 21 or in the night from June 21 to 22.

** Recommended flight from Jinka to Addis Ababa:
— with Ethiopian Airlines, direct flight, departure from Jinka on June 21 at 14:05, arrival in Addis Ababa at 15:25.

* The order of visits and excursions can be modified according to local conditions (i.e. state of roads, market days, ceremonies etc.). If some visits and/or tours could not be done due to external conditions, they will be replaced when possible.

** The exact dates of Ka'el festival are to be determined closer to the date, according to lunar calendar. The festival will happen in different villages of Bodi tribe on adjacent dates, and we would catch the one matching our schedule. As Ka'el festival is considered the most important part of this expedition, to match the dates, we may take a decision to run this program bottom up or in different order. This may involve the tougher timing and necessity to arrive by air, vice versa, in Jinka, and depart back home, from Jimma. Due to this, the domestic air tickets should not be purchased before final confirmation, 2 – 3 weeks prior to the departure date.

*** The participant of expedition to Ethiopia must be motivated to be respectful to the culture of local tribes, be aware of the objectives of the trip and possible program changes depending on weather conditions, security conditions and any other reasons, be able to adapt to the new environment and culture.

  • Сергей Мердишов
    отзыв опубликован на сайте
    У меня был неудачный опыт поездки в одном из путешествий.
    Ради чего поехал, так и не увидел. Хотя по программе все было включено.
    И поэтому я стал искать с кем можно поехать в очередную поездку. В интернете наткнулся на MZUNGU EXPEDITIONS. Тогда меня интересовало племя Короваи, как раз у них намечалась такая поездка. Написал Алексею. Стали с ним общаться.
    Переписывались по почте очень долго, из-за боязни, что и в этот раз пойдет, что-то не так, как по программе. Алексей терпеливо, доходчиво отвечал на все мои вопросы, даже когда был в какой-то очередной поездке. А таких вопросов было не мало.
    Группа к Короваям не набралась, но у меня уже был запасной вариант к племенам долины реки Омо в Эфиопию. И опять у меня появились вопросы к Алексею, понимая, что и без меня у него проблем хватает. Но на все вопросы я получал ответ.
    И я Алексею поверил и не ошибся.
    Спасибо Алексею за его терпение при переписке и в поездке.
    Как для меня…, то мне было интересно с Лёшей путешествовать по Эфиопии.
    На протяжении все поездки немало было проблем из-за дождей, но Алексей с гидом Аби старались, чтобы у нас всё получилось. И получилось! И все было здорово!!!
    Да и вся группа была в восторге от всего увиденного. А увидели даже больше, чем планировали. Впечатлений море, воспоминания на долгие годы.
    Конечно, в экспедиции всякое может произойти, тем более, когда такая сложная логистика, какая была в Эфиопии. Но если Вы хотите увидеть то, что Вам предлагают в MZUNGU EXPEDITIONS - не раздумывайте, будет интересно !!!
  • Лилия
    отзыв опубликован на сайте
    С Лёшей была в Эфиопии в ноябре 2019. Интересная программа, отличная организация на протяжении всей поездки, не отказал в посещении интересного события, не входящего в программу. Профессиональное оперативное решение непредвиденной нештатной ситуации. Надеюсь, еще не раз попаду в команду Mzungu!
Cost includes:

• Accommodation in lodges, hotels based on twin/double accommodation (the name of the lodges as agreed in the program or similar),
• Accommodation in tents based on single (or double for couples) with mattresses and sheets,
• All transport as per program: 4WD SUVs with AC and experienced drivers (3 clients in 1 car max, each with the access to window)
• 3 times a day meals
• Drinking water and soft drinks with coffee, tea
• All entrance fees, all ceremonies and festivals
• Experienced English speaking local guide
• Team leader, translation into Russian
• All permissions
• Tribal fees, tribal guides
• Government tax

Cost excludes (to be additionally paid):

• International air tickets to Addis Ababa (roundtrip),
• Domestic flight from Addis Ababa to Jimma and from Jinka to Addis Ababa
• Medical insurance
• Visa of Ethiopia
• Alcohol beverages and soft drinks,
• Video filming and photography fees,
• Tips
• Items of personal nature like laundry, souvenirs, etc.
• All not mentioned in the "Price includes" section

To take with:

- sets of clothes suitable for the weather conditions, including lightweight clothes (shorts, T-shorts), and warm clothes (hoody, light jacket), long sleeve clothes
- sun hat/panama
- swimwear
- raincoat
- comfortable trekking footwear, light footwear (sneakers)
- sleeping bag for warm weather
- mosquito net
- sunglasses
- big backpack (or travel bag, or small suitcase) for the luggage
- small backpack for radial walks (25 – 30 L)
- headlamp
- sunblock set (cream, spray)
- repellents
- personal hygiene items
- individual medical kit (analgetic, antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, intestinal, multivitamins, rehydration, court plaster, your personal medications)
- anti malaria prevention pills (up to you but recommended)
- favorite meals (chocolate, nuts)
- photo and video camera, extra batteries
  • 1
    We find the most astonishing places on Earth and speed up to reach them. Our motto is to go ahead of road roller, touch the unique and unknown, before it disappears.
  • 2
    Wherever we go, we look for challenging activities and adventures, filling the journey with absolutely different spirit and emotions. That is why people join us over and over again.
  • 3
    In our trips we pay special attention to safety. All our travels are based on personal experience, equipped with the best gear, involving proved providers and experienced local guides who perfectly know local features.
  • 4
    We have a unique experience of the most offbeat expeditions and ascents, deep knowledge of countries and peoples, and are ready to share it with you.

© MZUNGU EXPEDITIONS LLC, 2009-2020. All Rights Reserved
Our Data Privacy policy
Made on