When it comes to safari adventures in Africa, few destinations can rival Tanzania’s diversity of wildlife, cultures and landscapes. From the endless rolling plains of the Serengeti, Lake Manyara, and Ngorongoro Crater, to the jaw-dropping beaches and coral reefs of Zanzibar and the tropical coast, Tanzania boasts an elegant lineup of safaris for both first-timers and seasoned campaigners. Even fewer destinations across the giant continent can offer an experience to match the Great Migration, an annual event comprising millions of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles as they cross from the Serengeti to the lush highlands of the Masai Mara in neighbouring Kenya. No doubt, a Tanzania safari holiday will deliver one massive experience after another.
But while a typical safari trip is all about having the time of your life in Africa’s finest grasslands, forests, and lakes, visiting a local village and learning about the fascinating culture of its people is also an experience you definitely shouldn’t miss. Your visit will be a deeper, more lasting experience in Tanzania if you try to learn a bit about the culture. A good way to accomplish this is to include a visit to a local tribe in to your itinerary. Cooking lessons, guided historical walking tours, and unique cultural practices are a great way to get a deeper sense of the country. It is not only an educational experience, but one that helps break down barriers and overcome stereotypes, creating an environment for understanding and perspective building. Tanzania has no shortage of ancient local tribes, but a good place to start is the Hadzabe Tribe.
Meeting The Hadzabe Tribe
This indigenous ethnic group dwells near Lake Eyasi in the central rift valley and in the neighbouring plateaus of the Serengeti in north-central Tanzania. They are one of the oldest tribes in Tanzania and are regarded as the last hunter gatherers in East Africa. Very little has changed in their way of life in the last thousand years, as they live off the land, hunting and foraging for food, setting up camp for a few weeks in one location and then moving on. The Hadzabe tribe is the only tribe that is permitted to hunt game in the area where they live because they survive almost exclusively on the meat they hunt.
Spending time with the Hadza people can be quite the culture shock. Their way of life is simple and does not follow the same rules as we do. For instance, they have an oral tradition when it comes to recollecting their past and therefore have no use for calendars, clocks, or counting past 3 or 4 to measure quantity. They have lived without wars, famines or serious disease outbreaks and they leave no carbon footprint as they move from one camp to another. It does give you a whole new perspective on sustainable living, one that encourages you as a visitor to practice sustainable tourism even more.
The Hadzabe tribe is a living reminder of how humanity is believed to have lived from as far back as 2 million years ago. In fact, the advent of farming is still somewhat foreign to them and they survive through their sharp instincts and skills, as well as their ability to interpret cycles and signs in their natural environment. They can even stroll through the deepest bush filled with wild animals at night and be completely at ease. Some evenings they gather around the campfire trading stories and songs. They remain free and live well in the bounty of nature without worries or thoughts about anything else except the present moment — what more could they want?
You can enjoy a truly fascinating visit with these gregarious people and experience life as a hunter-gatherer by booking with your tour operator. The only place where you can meet the Hadzabe people is near Lake Eyasi, but since they are a nomadic tribe, you may not meet them at all if you undertake the journey on your own. The closest town to Lake Eyasi is Karatu, which is about an hour’s drive away.
On hunts with the Hadzabe, you’ll be able to experience firsthand how they stalk their prey, using bows with and poison-tipped arrows, cook over open fires, as well as how they forage for wild fruits and tubers and medicinal plants. Surely adding this one-day or half-day adventure to your safari itinerary will give a nice variety to your activity not just for leisure but also a healthy dose of culture and history lessons.
A visit to the Hadzabe tribe is to experience their real way of life – they don’t put on any show for the sake of tourists, meaning you’ll be completely immersed in their way of life. It is the ideal way for you to connect with a culture whose traditions are almost reverent in their simplicity. It is an experience you’ll never forget. A Tanzanian safari ranks highly on many people’s bucket list and now, with the prospect of an educational experience unlike any other, perhaps the time has come to finally tick it off.
Check out some of our tours below that include cultural visits: