Posted on 2019-11-20

Ethiopia - Origin of Mankind Photography Expedition

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After our incredible 12 and 18 days expeditions in 2018, we are going back to incredible Ethiopia.

This time, for 15 days we will tour the country from south to north, documenting its extraordinary cultures and traditions, including the indigenous tribes in the Omo Valley in the south, the extraordinary rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the stunning mountains of Gheralta in the north.

This expedition is a great opportunity for photographers and videographers who want to create a  visual anthropology project with the ethnic groups we will visit or simply want to improve their experience in visual storytelling.  The religious and cultural traditions of this extremely diverse country are perfect for documentary projects.

Guided by John and a team of expert local guides, you will have access to unique locations and situations in which you can make a project using documentary observation as a tool in the realization of audiovisual pieces of ethnographic and documentary nature.

This will be very difficult and expensive to pursue if you are travelling by yourself or as part of a normal tour.

Do not miss this unique learning opportunity with a professional with more than 15 years of experience as a travel and documentary photographer.

For this expedition to materialize, like all previous expeditions,  we have scouted out optimum routes and locations for your interest as visual artists.  We take great care and responsibility to ensure that everything has been organized in detail.

Our adventure begins in Addis Ababa, the highest capital of Africa, where we will spend the night in one of the best hotels in the city.

The next day we will travel south in 4x4 trucks, stopping to photograph traditional villages until we reach Arba Minch, where we will spend the night in a beautiful hotel surrounded by nature from where you can photograph baboons and birds flying at eye level.

Getting to the Omo Valley is like entering a living documentary. This is a place of great anthropological value, extraordinary for portraits and for documenting the daily life of the most exotic tribes of Africa, such as Karo, Mursi, Dassanech, Banna, Hamer and Arbore. Many of these cultures are at high risk of disappearing.

Everyday scenes around tribal villages, markets, initiation to adulthood rituals, women with large ceramic plates on their elongated lips, the art of body and face painting or the scarification of their bodies, the photographic possibilities here are endless.

It is important to mention that our expedition will be highly focused on documentary and portrait photography and our itinerary has been designed so that we visit each of the aforementioned indigenous groups, spending several nights with them. This is a unique opportunity that a very few visitors have access to.

After several days photographing the tribes of the Omo Valley, we fly from Arba Minch to Addis Abeba and then from Addis to Mek'ele in the north, to photograph the impressive landscape of the Tigray region, including the little-known churches of Gheralta and the life of the farmers who grow sorghum, corn, and teff, a cereal originating in Ethiopia, used in the preparation of injera, the typical dish of the country.

With its sheer cliffs and beautiful surreal rock formations, the Gheralta Mountains resemble the desert landscape of the southwestern United States, with one big difference: High up and hidden in these cliffs are some of the Ethiopian Orthodox rock churches less visited of the country, some of which are more than 1000 years old. Climbing is optional, the landscape is impressive seen from above or from below.

After photographing the landscape and rural life around Gheralta, we will travel by car to Axum, a city in the north, known for its tall carved obelisks, relics of the ancient Kingdom of Aksum. This is an important centre of pilgrimage, where the Ark of the Biblical Alliance is housed, which is believed to contain the tables of the 10 commandments.

Churches lit with candlelight, processions of white-clad parishioners and priests with beautiful costumes carrying heavy metal crosses, are part of the everyday scenes we will document.

After Axum, we fly to Lalibela in the Amhara Region,  to visit its magnificent rock-hewn churches, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Lalibela is one of the main places of pilgrimage for the Coptic Christians and is known as the New Jerusalem. Its 11 medieval monolithic churches are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Expect beautiful religious ceremonies, pilgrims wearing white robes and candlelit underground churches and even exorcism ritual that seem to be scenes taken from centuries ago.

Visit local markets in the villages near Lalibela, enjoy the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony and see how women prepare injera, the typical national dish.

Our expedition ends with a flight over the impressive landscape of the Tigray mountains, to return to Addis Ababa.

Type of experience

  • Photo Tour


  • Africa


  • Experience local culture
  • Approach people
  • Discover a city
  • Street life
  • Other

Other (category)

Tribal markets, different ethnic groups, portraiture on location, religion, ceremonies, farmers life,


  • Get in touch for availability


  • Other

Duration (other)

15 days

Languages spoken


What is included

  • Pro photographer
  • Transfers to/from hotel/airport
  • Accommodation
  • All meals
  • Tour leader expenses
  • Internal transport
  • Car & driver
  • Local guide
  • Entrance fees (parks, monuments ...)
  • Personal critique/review
  • Post experience mentoring
  • Other (please specify)

What is included (other)

4 internal flights, snacks, bottled water during the whole trip and more

What is not included but recommended for the experience

-International flights

Five keywords that best describe the experience you will have

Africa, documentary, travel photography, Ethiopia,

Camera equipment used by photographer

Nikon D850, D810, Film camera, action camera and iPhone

Private or group?

  • Group

Max group size


Min group size


Non photographer's welcome



  • Robert
  • Jun 23, 2021
  • JQ delivered his "Up close and personal: a Photographic Journey in South America, Asia and Africa" to Woking Photographic Society. The images were all terrific and some of the stories behind them quite astonishing, all delivered in a very personable style. A thoroughly enjoyable evening and we would love to see more of John's work at some stage in the future.

  • John
  • Apr 16, 2021
  • Stunning use of natural light. Enjoyed the talk immensely.

  • Margaret
  • Apr 16, 2021
  • Hi JQ. I really enjoyed your presentation yesterday. Your use of light was superb. I wondered why the presentation suddenly cut off - thought it was maybe my connection. It has happened once before that fb have cut a photo webinar because of “nudity”. Pity they don’t seem to appreciate the difference between art and straight nudity.

  • Anne
  • Apr 16, 2021
  • Fantastic presentation- makes me want to go back to Colombia!

  • PC
  • Apr 16, 2021
  • Impressionante!!! I was just at the point of posting a comment when FB pulled the plug.
    Great set of photographs, and great presentation.
    I wish you all the best with your tours and hopefully this virus will be under control in the next 12 months and allow us all to continue with our lives.

  • Feargal
  • Mar 30, 2021
  • JQ delivers a superb presentation - the photos and his explanation of how and why he took them was excellent but what was extremely impressive was not only the story associated with the image but the way he told that story.

    It comes across that he really loves his native country ( Columbia) and you great empathy for the local population and the tribes- people of the Amazon

    Absolutely superb, very professional and not to be missed


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