Living Africa documents photographer Steve Bloom's journey across the length and bredth of Africa. As evidenced by the following images, his travels allow him to achieve an extraordinary intimacy with the people and lanscapes of the continent.
Suri children with painted faces - Omo Valley, Ethiopia
As much a part of daily playtime as an ancient ritual, children of the Suri tribe paint their faces with coloured ochre and white clay. Friends will often paint each other's faces with identical designs to show their closeness. When they are old enough they will go to great lengths to decorate themselves to attract the opposite sex at ceremonial gatherings so this is an important skill to practise.
Gabbra herder with camels - Chalbi desert, Northern Kenya
Camels are kept well away from Gabbra settlements, as these animals are unpredictable and destructive to vegetation. Men aged from about nineteen to thirty-three live in smaller satellite camps where they tend the herds. This practice typically delays the average age of marriage to the early thirties for both sexes, as the young men are excluded from political and social activities in the main camp.
Fish trader - Dakar, Senegal
Wodaabe youths - Niger
Young men, beyond the age of puberty but not yet the heads of families, are permitted to perform at the Gerewol. To prepare for the dance, the hairline is shaved to make the forehead look bigger, and heavy make-up is applied to the face in the form of red ochre, with kohl to emphasise the eyes and mouth. A headdress is worn, usually decorated with cowry shells and ostrich feathers, which are symbolic of fertility, and the chest is adorned with beads.
Suri body art - Omo Valley, Ethiopia
A woman carefully cuts decorative patterns on the arm of her friend while a boy looks on apprehensively. The skin is lifted with a thorn and then sliced with razor blades, leaving a flap of skin which will eventually scar. Scarification is a form of beautification for most of the tribes that inhabit the Omo Valley, a practice unchanged by the passing of hundreds of years
Karo gathering - Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Karo people differentiate themselves from neighbouring tribes by excelling in body painting. They use ochre, chalk, charcoal and pulverised mineral rock to achieve a variety of colours which include orange, white, black, yellow and red. Body artists use vibrant designs to accentuate fine facial features and enhance their graceful movements.
Lionesses - Masai Mara, Kenya
Gold miner - South Africa
Man walking along street - Harar, Ethiopia
Pilgrim - Lalibela, Ethiopia
Bozo fisherman casts his net - Mopti, Mali
Samburu dancers - Mount Nyiru, Kenya
Samburu men compete in a dance ritual to see how high they can jump, keeping their arms by their sides. The warriors know that the highest jumper earns the respect of the women watching, and possibly their affections.
Hippopotamus attacks wildebeest - Massai Mara, Kenya
Verreaux's sifaka - Berenty, Madagascar
A bright-eyed baby clings to his mother as she hops along in the sunlight. Sifakas belong to the lemur family, and have specially adapted hip bones which enables them to leap from tree to tree, or upright on the ground, using well developed leg muscles.
Suri woman - Omo Valley, Ethiopia
A woman is caught unawares while playing with her lower lip, stretched to accommodate a lip plate.
Ostrich - Namib Desert, Namibia
Majengo district - Nairobi, Kenya
Hamar woman, Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Living Africa: photography by Steve Bloom - Telegraph