Omo Valley Markets Ethiopia

 Omo Valley Markets are a great way to see people interact in their natural habitat. Even if curious tourists, marching in with their cameras throw the locals off a bit, they only smile and then return to their shopping list. Don’t expect it to be a very long list.

First market I have visited in the Southern Omo Valley was the Key Afer. This market usually takes place on Thursday and it is a good opportunity for the Hamers.

And the Bannas to shop and to interact with each other. The market name means Red Soil; you will probably wonder why there is so much red in my pictures and why women have red painted hair; it’s due to the same soil. They are using the same essences to paint their hair.

This is not a touristy market so do not expect to find a lot of souvenirs. What are they selling? Starting from cattle, roosters and chicken in buckets, clothes (mainly football shirts of English teams like Chelsea and Arsenal or Barcelona), eggs, and fruits. For example, 4 small bananas cost me only 1 Birr ($0.05$).  I ate only 3 because I gave one to a pretty Banna  girl.

They came dressed in their best clothes; don’t expect to see them wear a T-shirt. Women usually wear a goat dress that jingles too; colorful earrings in boat shape; men wear feathers on their scalps.

The market day is an opportunity  for them to interact with the other tribes, to gossip and to, why not, find a wife.

The second market visited was Konso Market, which takes place every Monday and Thursday. Much bigger than the Key Afer market and more tourists. This is a good place to fill your backpack with souvenirs!

If you wonder about the prices; well that depends a lot on your negotiation skills. Necklaces can start from 50 per each but you can buy them for 20 Birr which is $1. The selling price for a scarf is around 40 Birr in the Omo Valley Markets.

Shopping advice: try to negotiate as much as you can in the Omo Valley Markets; the price can go way lower. Anyway, the shopping market in Addis Ababa is a good place to buy a lot of nice things so do not  despair if you don’t get to buy everything here; you will still have a last chance in the capital.

by Sorin

Sorin is a freelance travel writer. He is an experienced travel writer and traveller. Since 2012 he explored more than 60 countries on 4 continents: Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. Currently is based in Romania after spending the last 7 years in Myanmar.