CULTURAL & HISTORICAL TOURS
Tanzania’s people are among the friendliest on earth with diverse and unique cultures ready to be shared with visitors. It is a rewarding experience to leave your 4X4 vehicle behind and walk through scenic local resident villages with the greatest cultural landscapes in Africa. Various local communities run their own cultural programmes and welcome visitors to their homes, bringing income directly to the local community while giving local people an opportunity to showcase their way of life to the outside world. This creates mutual understanding and friendships between tourists and local people, offering tourists from all over the world the possibility to experience Tanzania’s cultural diversity and providing local people in various rural areas the opportunity to build sustainable livelihoods
With local guides born and raised in the area, you can discover how many steps it takes to grow, pick, dry, roast, pound and brew fresh aromatic coffee. Participate in the process personally before enjoying the taste and taking home a very personal pocket of Tanzanian coffee. In the pastoral areas of the North and Lake Zone, follow the Hadza, Maasai and Dagota track to explore almost unforgotten traditions and a way of life that is closely linked to nature and wildlife.
Spend part of your time to meet the friendly faces of Africa and learn about their ways of life.
Major Culture Tribes.
The Maasai tribe are one of the most recognized tribes in the world. The semi-nomadic warrior people, who once lived nomadically across the lands of East Africa, now live as pastoral herders. Maasai territory includes the more famous and protected safari lands of Tanzania the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. Maasai tribes are patriarchal with the men taking up the task of guarding and herding the cattle while the women undertake household tasks and take charge in building the Inkajijik (traditional huts). A combination of grass, sticks, mud, water and cow dung are used to create small, oval structures.
One of the most memorable scenes in Maasai culture is the “Adumu”, known colloquially as the ‘jumping dance’, Adumu is the act of young men jumping competitively. Traditionally it is a part of “Eunoto” the ceremony in which young male warriors climb the ranks of masculinity in the tribe. Nowadays, visitors to Maasai villages are treated to a special version of Adumo not part of the ceremony. They can even try their hand at the athletic jump and no doubt elicit some laughter from the seasoned Maasai pros.
Most of the guests on safari love to include a visit to a Maasai Boma (the homestead) in Ngorongoro. The Seneto Maasai Boma on the western slopes of the Ngorongoro Highlands about 200 metres off the main road to Serengeti is one of the most famous cultural visitor points for guests. Another popular Maasai village is Irkeepus which is located in the Ngorongoro Highlands and a visit can be combined with a trek of Olmoti or Empakaai Crater. Visitors will be shown around the Maasai Boma, and are welcome to explore the huts where Maasai families live and learn a few things about their way of living. The huts, normally built by women, are made of wood, mud and cow dung.
The visit lasts about 30 minutes to 1 hour and at the end, the villagers will show off and try to sell their colourful beadwork and other handcrafted wares. If time allows the Maasai warriors would challenge men to engage in a spear-throwing match or perform a tribal dance, and ladies may choose to participate in beadwork. This is intended to expose visitors to the Maasai culture though briefly and enrich them with some authentic African experiences.
Maasai Cultural Bomas
One can visit the Maasai Cultural bomas in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to learn more about their unique culture, to take photographs, and to buy mementos. There is an entrance fee to be paid but it is well worth it. Please be sensitive to the fact that it is considered bad manners to take photographs of people along the roadside without consent.
A visit to one of the following is highly recommended:
- Kiloki Senyati Cultural Boma: Situated on the main road to Serengeti, 7 km south-west of the Olduvai Gorge Information Center
- Loonguku Cultural Boma: Situated on the main road to Serengeti, 10km before the turn-off to Olduvai Gorge
- Irkeepusi Cultural Boma: Situated 2km north-east of Lemala mini gate, on the main road to Empakaai
- Seneto Cultural Boma: Situated just west of the Seneto Gate, within the Malanja Depression
The Hadza people or Hadzabe'e, are an ethnic group in central Tanzania, living around Lake Eyasi in the central Rift Valley and in the neighbouring Serengeti Plateau. The Hadza number just under 1000. Some 300 to 400 Hadza live as hunter-gatherers, much as they have for thousands or even tens of thousands of years; they are the last functioning hunter-gatherers in Africa. The Hadza are not closely related to any other people. While traditionally considered an East African branch of the Khoisan peoples, primarily because their language has clicked, modern genetic research suggests that they may be more closely related to the Pygmies. The Hadza language appears to be an isolate, unrelated to any other.
The Yaeda Valley is easily crossed, and the areas on either side about the hills south of Mang'ola. The Hadza have traditionally foraged outside this areas, in the Yaeda Valley, on the slopes of Mount Oldeani north of Mang'ola, and up onto the Serengeti Plains. Such foraging is done for hunting, berry collecting, and for honey. Although hunting is illegal in the Serengeti, the Tanzanian authorities recognise that the Hadza are a special case and do not enforce the regulations with them, just as the Hadza are the only people in Tanzania not taxed locally or by the national government.
Hadza men usually forage individually, and during the course of the day usually, feed themselves while foraging, and also bring home some honey, fruit, or wild game when available. Women forage in larger parties, and usually bring home berries, baobab fruit, and tubers, depending on availability. Men and women also forage co-operatively for honey and fruit, and at least one adult male will usually accompany a group of foraging women. During the wet season, the diet is composed mostly of honey, some fruit, fdr tubers, and occasional meat.
The contribution of meat to the diet increases in the dry season, when game become concentrated around sources of water. During this time, men often hunt in pairs and spend entire nights lying in wait by waterholes, hoping to shoot animals that approach for a night-time drink, with bows and arrows treated with poison. The poison is made of the branches of the shrub Adenium coetaneum.
This cultural activity is absolutely a memorable experience and worth the extra time (3 to 4 hours).
The most general name for this widely dispersed ethnic group is Datoga, though it is sometimes spelt Tatooga. In the outside world, they are often known by the Sukuma name for them, Taturu, located around Lake Eyasi. There are very few sources of information about the Datoga people. The best known and most numerous sub-tribe of the Datoga peoples are the pastoral Barabaig, who reside chiefly in that part of the northern volcanic highlands dominated by Mount Hanang (3,418 metres). The sacred nature of this mountain makes it an important theme in Barabaig myth and song. In some people lists, the Barabaig are listed as separate people, but as speaking the Datoga language.
The Datoga themselves blend in with their environment, their dress being the colour of the reddish-brown soil. Only on closer inspection will they appear colourful with their reddish, patched leather dresses, beadwork, and brass bracelets and necklaces. A prominent decoration is tattooing of circular patterns around the eyes. They were herders, but have diversified to include agriculture in recent times. The Datoga are proud people, with a reputation as fierce warriors. Traditionally, young men had to prove themselves by killing an "enemy of the people," defined as any human being not a Datoga, or one of the dangerous wild animals, such as elephant, lion or buffalo. Outsiders consider the Datoga primitive because they resist education and development. They live in low standards of hygiene and have high infant mortality.
The Datoga keep goats, sheep, donkeys and a few chickens, but cattle are by far the most important domestic animal. They resemble the Maasai in culture. The meat, fat, blood, milk, hide, horns, tendons and cow dung of every animal have either practical or ritual purposes. They were formerly nomadic, depending largely on milk products for their diet, and moving whenever the needs of their cattle dictated. Now, however, many farm a plot of maize and sometimes beans and millet. They live a very difficult life, in semi-arid areas, where water is hard to obtain and often unclean. The ideal family situation is polygamous, with wives ranked in order of marriage. Marriage must be outside the clan. Funerals are extensive ceremonies, lasting up to a year. Power centres in a neighbourhood council of elders. Group pressure is the primary social control, but elders can impose fines and curses. Men drink honey beer as a sacred drink on ritual occasions.
The Olduvai Gorge:
The Olduvai Gorge popularly referred to as “The Cradle of Humankind”, is the site where in 1959 Dr Louis Leakey discovered the skull of Zinjanthropus or “Nutcracker Man” believed to have lived 1.75 million years ago. It is located in the eastern Serengeti Plain, within the boundaries of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania. It is a steep-sided ravine consisting of two branches that have a combined length of about 30 miles (48 km) and are 295 feet (90 metres) deep. Later reclassified as Australopithecus boisei, this creature had a massive skull through small brained (500 cc) with huge teeth. Several months later Dr Leakey found another fossil hominid in the same layer of excavation, called Homo habilis or “handyman”, smaller than the “Nutcracker Man” but with a larger brain (600 cc) and capable of making simple stone tools. The deposits have yielded the fossil remains of more than 60 hominins (members of the human lineage), providing the most continuous known record of human evolution during the past million years, as well as the longest known archaeological record of the development of stone-tool industries.
The Kondoa Rock Paintings:
The Kondoa Rock Paintings in Kolo are located about 260 kilometres to the south of Arusha town, a 4 hours drive on the Great North Road and about 20 kilometres from the Kondoa District centre. This is a UNESCO world-class historical heritage site of ancient rock art, remarkable not just for their quantity but also quality. Human figures and animals (elephant, eland and giraffe) usually painted in dark red, and a few abstract designs can be seen on the face of the rocks and caves. According to researchers, these are the earlier rock paintings dated 5,000 to 10,000 years and are attributed to hunter-gatherer Bushmen, a click language tribe, who are said to be ancestors of the Sandawe tribe currently inhabiting the western part of Kondoa District. The languages of the Sandawe in Kondoa and the Hadzabe in Lake Eyasi though not ethnically related are connected to the Khosian languages spoken in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa that have click consonants. It is not surprising that similar rock paintings can also be viewed in some parts of southern Africa inhabited by the Bushmen.