With 120 tribal groups in Tanzania, each with their own language and culture, it has been an amazing feat to mold these tribes into a peaceful unified country. You are welcome to explore any of these tribes through Bushmen Expeditions. We guarentee an authentic and natural visit to learn of the ways of life. Listed below are some of the most popular tribes to visit that are close to our safari destinations. We can easily incorporate visits into your itinerary. We will gladly assist you in choosing tribes to visit and perhaps offer otheer choices that are not listed here.
It is almost impossible to spend time with traditional hunter gatherer tribes and not affect the way they live. In Northern Tanzania, the Hadzabe, one of the last and most remote of the Bushmen tribes, still lives in the dry woodlands of remote Lake Eyasi. They live today as they have lived for thousands of years; hunting for game with bows and arrows made from giraffe tendons, gathering honey from the beautiful African baobab trees, and digging for roots and tubers from deep within the arid ground of the acacia bush land. But over the last few decades, the Hadzabe bushman have been pushed deeper and deeper in to the bush land, and are now fighting to preserve their unique culture and traditions. Bushmen Expeditions and a few other like-minded companies are trying to help the Hadzabe to determine their own future and receive fair treatment in a fast changing Africa. We have access to the area, and by visiting them funds are channeled straight to various village account that acts in their interests. A local NGO, UCRT (Ujamaa Community Resource Trust, or UCRT) aims are to protect the Hadzabe against unnecessary and unfair exploitation. UCRT does not encourage or deter the Hadzabe to live as hunter gatherers, but ensure that the Hadzabe people receive correct information about current political situations and events, to allow them to make their own decisions about the direction their lives should take. We spend time with one of the Hadzabe communities that choose to live a traditional hunter gather lifestyle. It is crucial, to research a visit to the Hadzabe carefully, as some of the more accessible groups are very commercialized and do not properly reflect the unique charisma and identity of these ancient people. The Hadzabe community we visit lives far from the normal tourist route and are therefore very difficult to reach by car. We always plan to spend three nights in a small mobile camp close to the Hadzabe village. Importantly, it is difficult to be able to understand and absorb the harmony and serenity of the Hadzabe with a flying visit: so three days allows us time to connect properly with these wonderful people. For one whole day we join the men on hunting and honey gathering trips. We try to keep groups of guests small in order to avoid alerting the game to our presence and having an adverse affect on their hunting. The day could well involve a fair amount of walking and tracking of wild game. Although one might think that meat forms a large part of the diet, the Hadzabe are largely vegetarians and the majority of their meals are based around honey and fruit. The second day is spent with the women of the village, spending time with them as they forage for roots, tubers and berries. This is wonderful day learning about plants and their various uses. Such intimate and unusual times with the Bushmen are powerful experiences that are hard to beat. But we also live and walk in some of the most beautiful African bush, constantly surrounded by wild animals. Anybody who enjoys spending time close to nature in wild, will love this trip. Some of the campsite are set at the foot of a rocky outcrops that is sacred to the Hadzabe people, and from the top there are stunning views of the valley, and beyond to the reaches of Lake Eyasi. Most afternoons are spent in and around camp, relaxing and taking our own bush walks in the area. By late afternoon, the sunsets from the escarpment are spectacular. This cultural experience is one of the most sensitive cultural encounters available in the world today. The essence of Hadzabe culture can be summed up in one word: harmony “they live in harmony with each other, in harmony with nature, and in harmony with themselves. It is a must!
A visit to the Hadzabe fits well between Tarangire National Park or Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater.
The maasai are a very popular tribe to visit. Easily distinguished by their bright clothes and jewelery they are semi nomadic animal herders, moving wherever the grazing and water are available. A maasai's wealth is measured by the number of cattle, wives and children he posseses. Traditionally, all the needs are met through cattle with the diet consisting primarily of milk mixed with blood from the cattle (by gentily nicking the jugular it does not harm the animal). The meat is reserved for eating on very special occasions due to the value of each cattle. Wives are purchased through payment of cattle and goats. Girls are wed shortly after puberty since it is an embarrasement to beccome pregnent before marriage. In spite of the governments urging, female genital mutilation (FGM) is still practiced illegally in some areas, kept very hidden from the public. The price of a uncircumcised bride is greatly reduced. Each wife is to build a house made of mud, manure, sticks, grass and urine. Since the price of obtaining a wife is high, most husbands are much older than the wives in order to obtain the number of required cattle. As the men migrate with the cattle, the woman is left behind to care for the children and household. Any home without a man is considered open for any other maasai to occupy just by planting his spear outside the door, including the services of the woman.
There is a stict and extensive right of passage into manhood for maasai boys including circumsision without any pain killers. Even a slight flinch in pain is considered a family embarrasement. Even from a very young age, boys are placed in charge of animals, starting with a few goats progressing upwards.
There is very much more to say about the maasai, but that will be left to be explained during your visit with these legendary warriors (but are warm and open to visitors). While visiting the maasai, you will have the chance to join in singing and dance, perhaps trying compare your jumping skills with the famous jummpers. The women are expert at making beaded decorations and you can buy souveniers direct from them. This trip is possible from any northern Tanzania itinerary, even as a day trip from Moshi or Arusha.
The Chagga are the most numerous tribe in Kilimanjaro Region. Although they have assimmilated into modern African life more than some of the other tribes, it is still possible to catch some of their local culture around the lower elevations of Mt Kilimanjaro. There are many small farm plots where coffee, bananas along with vegetables are grown using traditional methods. In the area are some beautiful small waterfalls and caves to visit and learn about Chagga culture and history. You can eat traditional foods, sample local banana beer, hike and swim next to the waterfalls and learn about the local coffee industry. The location makes this perfect for a short day trip from Moshi or Arusha.
The Meru people, or waMeru, are a Bantu-speaking people who settled at the base of Mount Meru over three hundred years ago. They settled in the forested area on the southeastern slopes of the mountain and developed a strong agricultural economy along with livestock keeping. It is believed that the waMeru practiced a traditional style of permaculture, and it is possible to witness some of these activities during a visit to the waMeru homeland.
Datooga / Barbaig Tribe
The Datooga are a pastoralist Nilotic people of north-central Tanzania south of Ngorongoro Crater. There are seven Datooga tribes, the Barbaig being one of them. The Barbaig people whose traditional culture is still unchanged and unspoiled, are highly-skilled in metalwork. The Maasai traditionally traded livestock with the Barbaig in order to obtain the metal tips they needed for their spears. A visit to Barbaig communities can include seeing metal workers in action and an opportunity to obtain beautiful jewelry, some of which is fashioned from discarded metals such as keys and small auto parts.
The Iraqw are a Cushitic people of the Arusha and Manyara Regions of north-central Tanzania, near the Rift Valley wall and south of Ngorongoro Crater. The language is distinctive from their Bantu and Nilotic neighbors and resembles an Arabic sound. The areas surrounding Karatu town in Arusha region is Iraqw homeland and visitors can witness their locally developed intensive cultivation techniques.
Traditionally in conflict with the Maasai, Iraqw homesteads included underground tunnels – aasimo -- in which to hide. Visitors can see these elaborate structures during a visit to the Karatu area (close to Tarangire/Manyara/Ngorongoro).
Olduvai (Oldupai) Gorge
Inside of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, close to the border of the Serengeti National Park, lies one of the most famous archeology sites in the world. This site is made famouys by the research of Dr Leakey and his wife where they discovered the relics that evolutionists call the earliest humans. This site still has ongoing research and features a museum to explain the findings. This tour is an easy addition to a Ngorongoro or Serengeti safari.
Pre-historic Rock Paintings
There are a few sites in Tanzania where well preserved rock paintings are to be found. The best known are near the town of Iringa known as the Kolo Rock Paintings. While the majority of tourists would not make a special trip just to view these, if your itinerary takes you close to one of these areas, it is definitely worth seeing. There is a good website dedicated to rock paintings in Tanzania, http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/tanzania/index.php or contact us for more information.
Stanley / Livingston
The story of Henry Stanley's search to find missing explorer Dr. Livingson is famous to most but not many know many real details about this adventure except the famous words of Henry Stanley upon finally finding Dr livingston - "Doctor Livingston, I presume". Rather than copying others well written expanations, we will include links to two articles that we find informative and accurate. http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/on-this-day/November/Dr-Livingstone-I-Presume.html http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/stanley.htm. Dr Livingston's body was carried across the country and was buried in the Indian Ocean coastal town of Bagamoyo. The two had their famous introduction along the shore of Lake Tanganyika, in the far west of the country.
Swahili Culture / Slave Trade
The birth of the Swahili language and culture started in Zanzibar. The area was rich in trade of all types with a variety of cultures converging in this area. Among the trade commodities was slaves captured from the inland of what is now Tanzania. A tour of Stone Town offers a great insight of this era along with some interesting architecture. See our Zanzibar section for more information.