Visit Turmi: Home of Ethiopia’s Hamer Tribe

turmi hamer tribe

Although it is tiny, the Ethiopian market town of Turmi is an important hub of transport and local culture in the south-west of the country.

Surrounded by the villages of the Hamer people and close to the famous Omo Valley and its tribes, it is the perfect location for visitors looking to experience the heart and soul of Africa.

International travelers can journey to this remote part of the country and explore the Omo Valley region around Turmi with their Ethiopia e-Visa.

What to See and Do in Turmi, Ethiopia

Despite being a small, rural town, there are many reasons to visit Turmi. From meeting and interacting with the friendly local Hamer people to exploring one of the region’s largest and most important markets, Turmi provides an opportunity to engage in the culture of Ethiopia.

The Omo Valley region is a beautiful place to stay and explore. The hills, bush, and the majestic Omo River bring visitors closer to nature.

Visit the Hamer Market

The Monday market in Turmi is well worth seeing as a slice of quintessential rural African culture. Hamer people from the surrounding villages descend on the town to buy and sell goods, some of them walking over 15 km to get there.

The atmospheric Ethiopian market is a chance for locals to socialize and catch up with people from neighboring towns and villages. Travelers are more than welcome to join in.

The market stalls are typically African in nature. As long as they are prepared to barter, visitors can get great deals on everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to traditional jewelry; from goatskins to gourds.

There are also smaller markets on Thursdays, which see much fewer tourists.

The Bull-Jumping Ritual in Turmi

An important rite in the culture of the Hamer tribe, lucky visitors might witness a “bulljump” while visiting Turmi.

This coming-of-age ceremony involves initiates walking 4 times over the backs of a row of bulls or castrated steers. By completing this ritual, a boy is recognized as a man and will be able to marry.

Bull-jumping ceremonies are usually held between August and November after the harvest, or between January and April.

Take an Omo Valley Tour

Turmi provides a great base to explore the Omo Valley region and visit the tribes who live there.

In addition to the Hamar people, it is possible to visit the Dassanech in nearby Omerate or the Karo tribe in Murelle. Each tribe has its own unique culture and customs.

It is possible to book tours from Turmi that take visitors through the Omo Valley. Tours can vary in length (many take several days) and the tribes that are visited. Alternatively, some tours leave from other parts of Ethiopia and make stops in Turmi.

Where to Stay in Turmi

There are a number of small hotels in the town itself, most of which offer fairly basic accommodation.

Turmi has several nearby lodges, including the following:

  • Buska Lodge
  • Turmi Lodge
  • Paradise Lodge

There are also community-run campsites for travelers on a budget or for those who prefer to sleep beneath the stars in the Ethiopian countryside.

Where Is Turmi, Ethiopia?

The town of Turmi is located in the Debub Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region of Ethiopia. It is in the south-west of the country, fairly close to the border with Kenya.

Turmi is around 706 km to the south-west of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The town is located close to the Lower Valley of the Omo River.

How to Travel to Turmi

For international visitors to Ethiopia, the easiest way to reach the country is by air. It is possible to get flights from many countries to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD). From here, it is possible to get another flight closer to Turmi or to explore the country at a slower pace by road.

Travelers may wish to book a tour of Ethiopia from Addis Ababa to the Omo Valley region, including Turmi.

How to Arrive in Ethiopia

In order to get authorization to visit Ethiopia, most foreign nationals will need to obtain a visa.

The majority of travelers are able to obtain an electronic visa or e-Visa for Ethiopia online.

Individuals who wish to visit Turmi must complete the simple Ethiopia eVisa online application form, which takes a matter of minutes to fill in. The visa is processed within 72 hours (often faster than this) and avoids the need to apply at an Ethiopian embassy.

Check the Ethiopia visa requirements to see what is needed to apply.

How to Get to Turmi from Addis Ababa

Traveling by road from Addis Ababa to Turmi takes 13 hours and 15 minutes, so it is advisable to break up the journey by stopping in other places along the way.

Alternatively, it is possible to take a domestic flight from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) to Jinka Airport (also referred to as Baco Airport, BCO), which is 2 hours and 30 minutes’ drive from Turmi.