CULTURAL & HISTORICAL TOURS
Cultural tours are a popular product in Tanzania that is mostly sold as an add-on to enrich main safari tour programs. Most cultural tour sites in mainland Tanzania were developed by the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) in conjunction with the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), starting with selected villages around Arusha in northern Tanzania and spreading out into other areas. These are traditionally existing villages which have been made accessible to visitors who may have a glimpse of the authentic lifestyle of the more than 120 tribes in rural Tanzania.
Most visitors to Africa, especially first timers, find the continent and its people enchantingly different and a special experience. We at Leopard Tours appreciate this fact and Endeavour to include visits to the local communities to give our guests the opportunity to see firsthand the way of life in a typical African village.
Besides enriching itineraries and adding quality to the tours offered in Tanzania, the cultural tours are generating direct income to the local communities that are being visited, contributing to their development. Thus by visiting the cultural sites the guests would be giving support to community health, water supply, primary education and many other social and economic projects carried out at village level as well as reforestation and protection of environment.
Some of the popular cultural centres which may be tailored into visitor itineraries include:
Mto wa Mbu, a multicultural village-cum-town near Lake Manyara National Park
Maasai Boma and villages in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Lake Eyasi: land of the Hadzabe and Datoga
Arusha – Ng’ireshi village of Waarusha tribe, relatives of the Maasai, 7km from Arusha town
Arusha – Mulala village of Waarusha and Wameru tribes, 30kms from Arusha town
Manyara – Mto wa Mbu, meets an array of tribes living together in a small area
Mto wa Mbu is one of the first cultural tourism sites developed by TTB and SNV. Situated on the foot of the Great Rift Valley bordering Lake Manyara National Park, straddling the famous Arusha / Serengeti route, 120kms and 60kms from Arusha and Ngorongoro respectively, Mto wa Mbu is one of the most popular cultural tour sites in Tanzania.
Following the setting up of irrigation systems in the early 1950s, the area rapidly developed into a small town attracting a new wave of tribes from all over the country, each with its own cultural background. Nowhere else in Tanzania have so many different tribes settled in such a small area.
Choose from a walk through the farms and green oasis on the foot of the Rift Valley; a climb to Balala Hill; a view into the culture of the many tribes living in the area; a trip to Miwaleni Lake and waterfall where there is an abundance of papyrus; visits to development projects that aim to improve agriculture and start income-generating activities for local farmers.
The Mto wa Mbu tour is a village walk, designed to provide guests with an experience of the rich cultural heritage in Tanzania, albeit in a short time of half a day or one full day. The varied produces, handicrafts and activities that can be seen on the market place and in the village farms and lifestyle is an illustration of this cultural diversity.
Visitors may see Chagga people from the slopes of the Kilimanjaro brew their famous banana beer, mbege, and learn why out of more than 30 varieties of bananas cultivated here only two species are suitable for producing the drink; meet a farmer from Kigoma extract palm oil from palm trees that he brought from the shores of Lake Tanganyika; appreciate the Sandawe with their fascinating click language, similar to the Khoisan of the Kalahari Desert, making bows & arrows for hunting; interact with the Rangi from Kondoa using the papyrus from the lakes and rivers for weaving beautiful mats and baskets.
Visit the Mbugwe people from Manyara Region who will show you how they grind different grains to obtain flour using a traditional millstone; join the local people of Mto wa Mbu and learn how they construct mud huts, typical housing for most tribes around the area. You will be shown how to mix mud, rice husks and cow dung to obtain the right mud stuff for strong walls, and how local people roof their huts using dry banana barks and leaves.
Learn about traditional iron smelting technology, one of the oldest in Africa. The local people will show you how to make different tools like spears, knives, arrows. Learn from the local women how pots and dishes are made from clay soil and baked to make them hard. On the surrounding plains and woodlands to the north, east and south live native Maasai families in their traditional bomas (homesteads) while the warriors wander with their cattle looking for pastures and water.
Mto wa Mbu village walk is one of the best selling cultural tours with Leopard Tours. For flawless organisation it is best if the tour is reserved in advance together with the main program.
Visits to Maasai Bomas / villages in Ngorongoro
Most visitors to Africa, especially first timers, find the continent and its people enchantingly different and a special experience. We at Leopard Tours appreciate this fact and endeavor to include visits to the local communities to give our guests the opportunity to see first hand the way of life in a typical African village.
Tanzania has over 120 tribes each with its own culture. The Maasai in northern Tanzania are among the most popular ethnic groups in the area, a proud people fervently attached to their cultural values. Ngorongoro is the home of the pastoral Maasai, who have been allowed to live in the conservation area, a pioneering experiment in multi-purpose land use where people, their livestock and wildlife coexist and share the same protected habitat. The Maasai move widely with their herds of cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys in search of pasture and water. In recent years the Maasai have been encouraged to work on the land to supplement their traditional staple food of milk and meat.
While in Ngorongoro most of the guests on safari love to include a visit to a Maasai Boma (homestead). The Seneto Maasai Boma on the western slopes of the Ngorongoro Highlands about two hundred meters 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 to 45 minutes 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.
Lake Eyasi – the Hadzabe and Datoga.
Lake Eyasi is a very scenic soda lake found on the southern border of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a couple of hours drive from Karatu. This less visited lake lies at the base of the Eyasi escarpment on the western Great Rift Valley wall, bordered by the Eyasi Escarpment in the northwest and the Kidero Mountains in the south.
This is a hot, dry land, around which live the Hadzabe people, often associated with the Khoisan languages in Southern Africa because of their click language. The Hadzabe are believed to have lived here for nearly 10,000 years and continue to follow hunting-and-gathering traditions. Also in the area are the Iraqw (Mbulu), a people of Cushitic origin who arrived about 2000 years ago, as well as the Datoga also Cushitic, the Maasai and various Bantu groups including the Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi, Chaga and Meru. The area is Tanzania’s main onion-growing centre, and there are impressive irrigation systems along the Chemchem River drawing its water from natural springs.
The Hadzabe, a hunter-gatherer tribe, live close to the shores of Lake Eyasi, as do the Nilotic-speaking Datoga tribe who are pastoralists. Visits to these tribes are possible on half day or full day excursions which would include a visit to their homesteads, learning about their way of life, medicinal plants, and even animal tracking with bows and arrows with the Hadzabe hunters.
Different kinds of materials being used to make arrows – arrow sticks, the preparation of poison and the point of poison in the arrow
Processing poison from the poison tree
Fruit, root tubers and honey collection
Shallow wells prepared by women for water collection from the ground for home use