HAMAR, ETHIOPIA, TRIBAL RITUALS: Bull jumping, whipping, hair and many more facts of their rich culture.


Rituals Hamar Tribe, Ethiopia

With a population about 60,000 - in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region these tribal people are semi nomadic pastural people living in the Omo River Valley. The rites of passage to adulthood include cattle leaping and young women getting whipped to prove their love for their kinsmen. For their staple food, they practice shifting cultivation, moving on to new fields once the soil is exhausted.


A picture is worth a thousand words. Most of our hundreds of pictures are favored in Google! Why? Because no other website has so many beautiful high resolution pictures, taken by ourselves. Our pictures not only show you the beauty of Ethiopia, but they also show that we go everywhere, photographing wildlife, plants, people and culture. They show our professionalism, our keen eye for detail and our passion for the culture and nature of Ethiopia. So why consider booking our our Ethiopia Culture & National Parks modules? Because we don't mislead you like many tour operators do. When the Blue Nile falls are dry.... we tell you. When fog clouds the lava lake of Erte Ale? We let you know. Just drop us a mail and we will check it out for you.

Our tours take you to ALL famous cultural places of Ethiopia, and on top of that, you get to see up to 12 large nature reserves accompanied by a conservation forester. There is nothing similar on the market.

As Ethiopia can be combined with other East African countries, we organize tours in modules. Destinations Overview: Historical Circuit; Danakil Depression; Eastern Route; Simien Mountains; Bale Mountains; Southern Parks Safari; Gambella; Addis Ababa. BUT WAIT: if you buy your international ticket with Ethiopia Airlines, they will sell the internal flights at a price that you can't even ride the bus for. But you MUST plan it all in one package and making changes may be very costly. So let us help you plan your entire trip and book your local flights for an incredibly low price after you booked your international flight with Ethiopian Airlines!


The entire life of the Hamar turns around their cattle, which marks the wealth of its owner-family, provides food during times of hardship and plays an important role in the tribal rituals, like dowry for weddings.


The women cultivate sorghum, beans, maize and pumpkins, fetch water, cooking and looking after the children - who start herding the goats by age eight. Men herd the cattle, plough the fields and keep bees. Young men spend live in grazing camps near the Omo River plains. When bush food runs out, they survive on cow’s milk and blood taken from its neck. When a man loses a family’s cattle herd his reputation will be ruined.


Other tribes, like the Tsamai, Aari, Banna, and Bashada have similar traditions to those of the Hamar, but the Hamar only marry members of their own tribe. The men are polygamous, being allowed to marry up to 4 wifes. One of the traditions is the so-called bull jumping, the initiation rite for young men: they have to run over the backs of thirty cows standing side by side - four times, falling not allowed. The bull-jumping ceremony is called the bullah, a rite in which the young man jumps and then runs across the backs of dung-laden bulls while being cheered by family members, while the female relatives get their bodies lashed with wooden wands until they bleed heavily, leaving horrendous scars. These sacrifices are performed in the name of love for the family, creating enormously strong tribal bonds! During the whipping, the women and girls get into a frenzy through their dance, songs, and horn blowing and they end up with foot-long cuts up to several cm deep, while flesh is hanging off their backs.


Cattle-raiding is another important tradition. From time to time, a man will go on raids to take food, cattle and or the weapons and ammunition of a man he kills and more importantly, this will give them status. After a kill, the man returns to his village where he is welcomed as a hero and is entitled to scarification, one line for each killing performed. Hamar women also have artistic scars; some women before marriage, others afterwards. In some villages if a man has no more room to tally his “kills”, one of his wives have his scarring entitlements on her skin. Most men prefer scarified women to those who are not. The scarist - always a woman - cuts a small branch from a bush with pairs of sharp thorns. The double thorn is used to lift the skin which is then cut with the sharp iron tool made by the blacksmith.


Their appearance is extremely important to the Hamar People, having spectacular hairstyles, for both men and women, so hair grooming is essential to the Hamar's sense of beauty. Women paint their locks with fat and red ochre and then twist them into dreds, while often ostrich feathers and other ornaments are attached. Men who have killed an enemy or dangerous animal wear a mud cap that lasts for months. To protect their hairdos, the men always carry a borkoto, a wooden headrest for a pillow. Married women wear iron rings around their necks and they also decorate themselves with shells, glass, seed and metal beads, and they wear beaded goat skins that cover their bodies.


Iron rings, necklaces, tools, weapons, and ritual objects are are made by the blacksmith (gito), who are shaman-like figures believed to have the power of  the evil eye. They also are the “makers” of men and women through the scarification tools and ornaments they make.


The Ethiopian Government is trying to put an end to the tribal conflicts and killings and has begun prosecuting men who got new scars of a killer and fewer men are risking it as they face imprisonment, as well as the scarmaster involved. The government and elders also discussed putting an end to “all hurtful and harmful traditions,” particularly the whipping of women, to which many elders have agreed that the flogging should stop, but only when they are good and ready, as the women are proud of their scars that show their respect and love for their male family members.”


Read more about the Hamar Tribe by anthropologist Lars Krutak


 RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: Food storage hut of the Hamar People to get through the dry season.  RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: Two thorned bush used by Hamar People for scarification.

Food storage for the dry season.

Two thorned bush used in scarification.

 RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: Iron rings around the arms of Hamar woman.  RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: Hamar girls with locks immersed in goat fat and red ochre twisted into dreads.


Left: Iron rings around the arms.


Above: Locks immersed in goat fat and red ochre twisted into dreads.

 RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: Hamar women near Mago National Park.  RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: Two knocked out teeth are a sign of beauty among the Hamar People.

Two knocked out teeth are a sign of beauty.

 RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: Beaded goat skins covering part of the bodies of Hamar People.  RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: AK47 or Kalashnikovs have replaced spears among the Hamar People.
 RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: Two iron rings around the neck of a married Hamar woman.

Left above: Beaded goat skins covering part of their bodies.

Above: AK47 or Kalashnikovs have replaced spears among the Hamar.

Left: Two iron rings around the neck of a married woman.

Left: The elders play an essential role in the lives of the Hamar People.

 RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: As tough as they are in their rituals, the Hamar are a tremendously welcoming people  RITUALS HAMAR TRIBE ETHIOPIA: Affection to children at Hamar village, Etiopia


As tough as they are in their Hamar Tribal Rituals, the people of the Hamar Tribe are a tremendously welcoming people and show great affection to children, including visiting children, as these pictures clearly show. They loved my 6 months old grandson!


A visit of the Hamar people is part of this fabulous travel itinerary:


DISCOVER ETHIOPIAN NATIONAL PARKS with wildlife biologist of Ethiopian Park Service

8 days. Price: starting at $890.

Day 1: ADDIS ABABA - AWASSA, ± 275km

  1. Stop at Lake Ziway for watching wetland birds;

  2. Abyjata-Shalla Lakes National Park to watch Ostriches and wetland birds at alkaline Lake Abijatta, including potentially Flamingos;

  3. Senkele Wildlife Sanctuary to watch the Swayne's Hartebeest. In this small nature reserve one almost can see the extremely rare Swayson's Hartebeest of which less than 500 survive in the wild, all in Ethiopia;

  4. Spend the night in Awassa.


Day 2: AWASSA - YABELLO, ± 410km

  1. Proposed Megado Podacarpus National Monument to take a look at one of the nicest Podocarpus forests of Ethiopia trees up to more than 1m wide and 35m high.

  2. Yabello Wildlife Sanctuary to see the endemic Stresemann's Bushcrow and White-tailed swallows, Burchell's Zebras and other wildlife.

  3. Spend the night at Yabello Motel.


Day 3: YABELLO - KONSO, ± 220km

  1. Konso tribal villages at Mecheke, including Konso tribal king's house. Konso is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site for its traditional landscape with terraces, its uniquely structured villages and huts and for their famous wooden statues;

  2. New York Village, so called after the vertical erosion formations that in the minds of local people look like sky-scrapers. In fact they are hoodoo formations of quartz minerals similar to those in Brice National Park in the USA.

  3. Kanta Lodge, a beautiful brand new lodge in Konso style luxury sleeping cabins and restaurant.


Day 4: KONSO - BUSKA LODGE, ± 130km

  1. Drive to Turmi to visit the Hamer People.

  2. Birding at the floodplane of Chelbi Wildlife Reserve

  3. Spend the night at Buska Lodge


Day 5:  BUSKA LODGE - JINKA, ± 140km

  1. Early in the morning, drive to the Mursi village in Mago National Park. Mursi women wear clay lip plates that they make from locally dug clay. The men adorn themselves with clay;

  2. game viewing Mago National Park. While wildlife stocks in Mago National Park are down, it is still one of the better places to see extraordinary wildlife;

  3. Sleep at Jinka Resort Hotel.


Day 6: JINKA - ARBA MINCH, ± 275km

  1. Long drive until arrival at hotel in Arba Minch, overlooking Nechsar National Park.

  2. If we can get permission from the park we go looking for the mysterious Nechisar Nightjar.



  1. In the morning drive to Netchsar National Park on the istmus seperating Lake Abaya and Chamo. There still is a herd of the endemic Swayne's hartebeests, Burchell's zebra are very common, greater and lesser kudus are frequently seen, as well as grants gazelle. Out of the more than 180 species of birds recorded, you have a good chance at seeing Secretary bird, Ground hornbill, different species of bustards, etc.

  2. In the afternoon we go on boat ride along the western shore of Lake Chamo to watch African Crocodiles, Hippopotamus and a large variety of wetland birds.

  3. Return to the hotel at night and if permission granted again look for the Nechisar Nightjar.


Day 8: ARBA MINCH - ADDIS ABABA, ± 505km

  1. Return to Addis Ababa. Alternatively you have the option to fly back to Addis Ababa at additional costs for the flight, which we would recommend as it is a long ride back to Addis Ababa.

The price of this WILDLIFE SAFARI ETHIOPIA starts at $890 and includes transportation, entry fees, non-alcoholic beverages, tee/coffee at meals, hotels.


Ethiopia modernizes and changes more rapidly than any other country in Africa. Many features may not be there anymore in the near future. If you want to see it the way it was for thousands of years, see it now before it has changed forever! Compose your own once-in-a-lifetime Ethiopia-Africa-Adventure from our affordable modules:

Famous Ethiopia Historical Circuit

Simien Mountains trek or car visit

Danakil Depression and Erte Ale Volcano Expedition

Awash Babile Harar Safari Tour

Ethiopia Central and Southern Parks & Tribes Safari Tour

Bale Mountains National Park and Sof Omar Caves Tour

Gambella National Park Safari

Addis Ababa City Tour & Airport Transfer

All Ethiopia modules and prices together

We designed our itineraries in such a way that you can compose a 1 to 4 weeks journey from different modules that can show you the entire country or just the parts that interest you, all depending on your personal preferences, available time and budget. Email us on your interests and we can discuss a custom program with you by phone (we have phone lines from the USA and Europe) or skype. So, weather you have a great ethnic affinity, are a birdwatcher or want to go on safari, contact us and we work out a customized program that focuses on YOUR interests.

Blue Nile Falls, EthiopiaSt. George Church, LalibelaStellas, Axum, EthiopiaTukuls, Lalibela, EthiopiaElephant bull, Babile, EthiopiaEthiopian Wolf, Bale National Park

Gelada, Simien Mountains National ParkFacilides Bathroom, Gondar, EtiopiaWabia Ibex, Simien MountainsChurch, Lake Tana, EthiopiaErica trees, Bale Mountains National Park.Facilides Castle, Gondar, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is home of Ethiopian Airlines, featuring Africa's youngest fleet of the latest intercontinental jet airplanes - including 2 Dreamliners - as well as short-distance Bombardier turboprops for affordable and reliable in-country flights servicing all major cities of Ethiopia. The best airline of Africa, will fly you non-stop from the USA and Europe to Addis Ababa. Take our 1-week Ethiopia Cultural Monuments Tour and then continue for your Kenya or Tanzania safari - or any other East African capital - thus completing your journey. IF YOU BUY YOUR INTERNATIONAL TICKET FROM ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES, YOU WILL GET MOST INTERNAL FLIGHTS FOR $40 - $70 PER LEG! BUT CHANGING AFTERWARDS IS EXPENSIVE, SO WORK OUT A SCHEDULE WITH US TO GET A FABULOUS DEAL FOR FLYING THROUGH THE COUNTRY IN STEAD OF SPENDING ENDLESS TIME ON THE ROAD!!!



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Parks Man Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil is author of this website. He dedicated his life to the conservation of nature., He was part of the team that selected the first 39 protected areas of Ecuador in the 1970s and he initiated the Cuyabeno Lodge in Ecuador's Amazon in 1985, making him one of the world's eco tourism pioneers. A speaker of 8 languages and having traveled to 80+ countries, Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil has is one of the world's greatest connoisseurs of nature and national parks in the world. 

This website and its programs have been created by the renowned conservation biologist "Parks Man" Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil