Tanzania Cultural Tourism

Cultural tourism has become a fundamental part of the tourism industry in Tanzania spearing an increase in tourist arrivals into the country, thus empowering rural communities to reap the fruits of globalization and the ever growing tourism industry.

This type of tourism allows visitors to experience authentic, indigenous cultures by combining nature, scenery, folklore, rituals, art & crafts, ceremonies, dances and local hospitality of Tanzania to give a unique perspective into the daily lives of the local people, simultaneously allowing them to experience the wildlife safari in tanzania and zanzibar holidays has to offer.

Tanzania’s peoples they are among the most welcoming and approachable on earth, with the range of fascinating cultures ready to be shared with visitors. Kilimanjaro to the world famous maasai cultural tours excursion or a longer stay among local peoples is likely to become one of the most rewarding experiences of and holidays in tanzania.

The Maasai

According to oral history, the Maasai people are a fusion of North Africans and Nilotic tribe originating from the northern part of Turkana lake in Kenya, which they left in the 15th century, then moving south and into present day Tanzania over 200 years ago, when they displaced other tribes in order to claim rich pastureland for their cattle.

A race in which warriors were the highest class and their religion claimed all cattle as theirs by gift of God, they righteously annexed all the cows they encountered. A proud, charming, friendly and intelligent community, there are now a million Maasai living in the homelands of Tanzania and Kenya. Much of their tribal land has been absorbed into the National Parks in return for promises of cultural security and community wellbeing in surrounding reserves which have not always been kept. In accommodating the inevitable, some have embraced the Tanzanian tourist industry, becoming the guides, guards, staff and management of many of the new eco-tourist centers and cooperating in the conservation of the wildlife that attract their clientele.

Some own the land, camps, and lodges whilst others initiate self-help projects to supply foodstuffs, furniture, curios and craft items in return for assistance with education, health and community development. They also present their cultural heritage as a valuable commodity. This can be done in a superficial way, as ethnic entertainment, presenting a popular tourist conception of red-robed Maasai warriors, leaping and drumming, singing and dancing as a touring concert party, or as a deeply felt collaborative project in which the past, present and future are confronted in an authentic setting by real people.

The Hadzabe

The Hadzabe are the original Tanzanian Bushmen with a Khoisan language of clicks. These primitive hunter-gatherers lived in valley caves of Lake Eyasi in harmony with nature for over 10,000 years. There are now just less than 1000 of them left. The advent of the neighboring Datoga tribe and the development of national government together with climate change, tourism and commercial hunting, has resulted in the gradual destruction of their environment and their way of life, but their isolation has protected them from many modern diseases.

They usually get sick with malaria and yellow fever from mosquitoes or sleeping sickness from tsetse fly. They are a pride but also an embarrassment to a modern nation for its failure to progressively uplift the declining community from extinction, but out of respect for their chosen way of life, they are now the only people permitted to hunt with bows and arrows in the Lake Eyasi area. They live without a safety net, gathering the food they need day by day. They have no concept of religion or afterlife, nor of time beyond the phases of the moon. They live in collaborative groups with no social rules. Men hunt bushmeat while the women search for fruit, tubers and other wild food. They sleep in an organic mini-dome housing made of our natural branches while others prefer caves or lie head to tail around a campfire. Life is ephemeral. You need not hunt baboon or a dik dik, half naked with a bow and arrow to appreciate the Hadza way of life, but you can if you wish. Time spent “living in the now” on a Lake Eyasi cultural safari that confers calmness, centeredness and courage.

The Datoga

Like the Maasai, the Datoga were nomadic cattle herders but are now subsistence farmers, growing beans, maize and millet to augment their sheep, goats, cows and chickens rearing. Consequently, they are dependent on permanent water sources and are adversely affected by increasing drought. A Nilotic people, like the Maasai, their patched leather tunics blend with the landscape. They wear collars and bracelets of beads and brass and tattoo circles around their eyes. They are polygamous, ruled by a council of elders, and are aggressive, adversely affecting Hadzabe and Iraqw neighbors, and sometimes refuse to cooperate fully with the government. Their attitude deters sympathy for their plight. They live in mud huts in stockaded cattle enclosures.

All parts of their animals are used, and they grow and kill only what they need, being reluctant to trade. Yet, like the Maasai, despite their fierce warrior reputation, they are paradoxically friendly, welcoming and happy to share their cultural traditions with guests on an East African safari. They look down on the Hadzabe, often preventing Hadza women from taking water at waterholes until the Datoga cattle have finished drinking. Like the Hadzabe, they claim to be the oldest Tanzanian people, with a 10,000-year old culture, but they came from Ethiopia about 3,000 years ago to settle around Lake Manyara and Eyasi. They resist development and education, have high infant mortality, and are seen by other tribes as primitive, disapproved and disenfranchised. Less than 7% speak the national language, Kiswahili.