The Last Ever Descent Of The Omo River?

7th October 2009

Agreed by many as one of the last few great rafting expeditions in the world, the Omo River in Ethiopia has long held a draw for the most avid adventure traveler. The mixture of travel into deepest darkest Africa combined with fantastic wildlife viewing and incredible tribal interaction have made this trip a favourite since it was run in the 1980’s. Recently some negative press has been given to EBCO, the Ethiopian Power Authority for the impact of what the Gibe III power project half way down the river trip, will have on the famed tribes on the lower reaches of the river. This has meant them influencing the Ministry of Tourism and no more permits are being issued at this time for running the river.

Young Mursi Girl Chatting With Our Guests

Young Mursi Girl Chatting With Our Guests

The trip is split into  two unique sections. The Upper River is a phenomenal insight into the wonderful wildlife of the area. Abundant hippos, crocodiles and bird life can be seen from our rafts, with incredible campsites (some with hotpools!) at every turn of the river. We have on occasion even seen lion from the rafts! As the trip is so long, we require a resupply at Bele Bridge for fresh produce (of AMAZING quality in Ethiopia) and people who may just be running the Lower Reaches of the river, made famous by the tribes of the area. Bruce Parry made a high profile BBC TV programme in the area called Tribes which focused on Bruce living with the Karo, Omorate, Bodi, Hamer, Mursi tribes. On our trips we call into tribal villages along the way and get a real chance to trade and interact with these wonderful people. It is like going back in time.

Hamer Tribe Watching Us Raft Past

Hamer Tribe Watching Us Raft Past

The Gibe III project is providing excellent resources for what is a relatively poor African Country, however with all projects such as this, there can be negative implications for some people. Our job is not to get into this discussion, but to share with as many people as we possibly can, the amazing scenery and wildlife of the Omo Valley. On our last trip in August 2009, we were treated to some wonderful hospitality by the dam builders when our trip arrived at the coffer dam, our boats were transported to the other side of the dam fully loaded whilst the clients and guides were treated to a wonderful meal of Italian food (the dam is being built by Italian Engineers)

Jane Portaging Her Raft Around Gibe III

Jane Portaging Her Raft Around Gibe III

Potentially, this river can be run for another 3 years whilst the main dam wall is being built and we are trying our best, through dealings with Ministry of Tourism and Embassy officials to share this with more of you. The only thing that is certain, is if they do allow more trips on this river, it should be on the top of your MUST DO list!

by Hamish McMaster

Hamish McMaster is the Water By Nature owner. He has spent the past 25 years exploring and playing on the world's great rivers. He still loves nothing more than getting out there and sharing adventures.


Recent posts

A Welcome Break From Covid Chaos


I was recently fortunate enough to travel to Greece for a week of sailing at the end of October with family and friends and to be perfectly honest, it was just what the Doctor ordered! In a world filled with uncertainty and a lack of positivity, the opportunity to island hop, swim in the ocean, […]

Our 2021 Shortlist Of Adventures – Where Will You Go?


It has been encouraging to see some of our past guests book on for adventures in 2021 and some even for 2022. It seems that people are more confident about travelling from May onwards when we hope restrictions will be lifted and we can recommence visiting some incredible places. In their spirit of adventure, here […]

Here Comes 2020 – Grade V All The Way


In February 2020, a crew of adventurers and I were busy having fun in New Zealand. The only challenges we were facing were standard for an adventure company — re-arranging the order of rivers on our New Zealand River Rafting Road Trip given the large amount of rain we were getting. We followed this with […]