Cultural Tours in Tanzania

Tanzania has some of Africa best preserved traditional cultures often represented in lifestyles and architectural work that has remained unspoilt for thousands of years. Tanzania has over 120 tribes making it one of the most diverse nations in the world. The country is particularly famous for its strong Swahili and Arabic culture in the countries coastline and in the semi autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar. In this guide we shall cover some of the cultural tours you can take while on holiday in the country.

1.      Masai village visit while in Serengeti and Ngorongoro

The Masai are semi-nomadic Nilotic speaking community that occupy the northern section of Tanzania great rift valley their settlements extending to parts of southern Kenya. The community is well known for having paved for conservation which has lead to preservation of some of the world’s most famous game sanctuaries. Until recently when the government initiated a resettlement programme, some community members have been harmoniously staying in the Ngorongoro conservation area and an encounter with some Masai herdsmen grazing on the rims of the crater have been a common scenario. Here your guide will take you to one of the nearby Masai Bomas where you will meet the tribesmen for a more profound interaction. You can take parts in traditional dances and learn some of the community’s arts skills like basket and beads making. The Masai Boma is uniquely designed and perfect for a cultural photography.

2.      Get a glimpse of Tanzania diverse culture at Mto wa Mbu in Lake Manyara

Mto wa mbu village is situated near Lake Manyara and Tarangire game parks. A number of Tanzania ethnic groups live here giving the best and most diverse cultural safari experience. During your visit a local guide will take you through the village in about 1 hour  walk leading to encounter with villagers in their daily activities. During the cultural tour you will visit an African school, a banana brewery and church to learn how African traditions has blended with modern ways of life. You will also have a glimpse of the structuring of various African traditional houses. Cultural enthusiasts are allowed to spend some time interacting with the locals in the farm. There is also a Masai market place where you can buy different traditional artifacts. Importantly, Mto wa mbu village plays a pivotal role in conservation of the Tarangire- Manyara ecosystem as the area falls between a major wildlife migration corridor between the two parks. Money generated  from the visits helps in improving local community livelihood and aids in development of social amenities like schools which in turn make the community appreciate and develop a harmonious relationship with the wildlife.

3.      Interact with the Hazda/ Hadzabe community during your visit to lake Eyasi

The Hazdabe community is the only remaining primitive community in Tanzania. Today there are about 1000 remaining and who live in the central rift valley region around lake Eyasi and southern Serengeti plateau where they mostly engage in hunting and gathering. The community has in the best way maintained the lifestyle of their ancestor and have not been genetically contaminated through intermarriages. There is no tribe in Tanzania that have been found to be genetically related to the Hadza people. There language however has a click sound similar to that of the Khoisan which explains why they are believed to have been the first inhabitants of the east African region. The Hadza people live in temporary huts and shift locations to new hunting grounds. During your cultural tour you will have an opportunity to participate in wilderness activities like hunting and gathering as well as learn some of the bush survival tactics.

4.      Visit the Datoga people living in Eyasi

Also living in the Eyasi region is the small pastoral community believed to be of nilotic origin. The community has over the centuries  borrowed much of there culture from the Masai. The Datoga live in mad walled and thatched houses set in organized homesteads lead by a clan head. The community is well known for their ironsmithing skills. During your cultural tour you will have an opportunity to visit  one of the traditional forges where iron is worked out to make arrows and other metallic artifacts. The Datoga people are very friendly and cultural enthusiasts can spend some moments in the field with the herdsmen.

5.      Visit the Iraqw people living in Karatu area on your way to Lake Manyara from Ngorongoro

The iraqw are southern cushitic community living on the slopes of Ngorongoro highlands, near Karatu town. The community has one of the richest traditional culture in Tanzania with a lot of similarity with the Masai who they have had the widest interaction with for centuries. During your cultural tour you will embark on a guided village walk for an encounter with the native people in the farms. You will also take a look at one of the underground rooms where the Iraqw used to hide from the hostile Masai worriers during conflicts.

6.      Take a tour to the Bujora Sukuma museum during your visit  to Lake Victoria/ Rubondo Island

The Sukuma people are a Bantu speaking community and the largest ethnic group in Tanzania. The community occupies the northern part of the country around lake Victoria. Though the community has adopted much of the contemporary ways of life, there is still a strong sense of culture among the Sukuma especially in craftsmanship. The sukuma museum best represent the community culture offering a display of different artifacts. The royal pavilion represent the chieftainship as the Sukuma were one of the few Bantu groups that traditionally had an organized political structure. Also found in the museum is a traditional healer who will teach you traditional remedies  to different types of diseases. Throughout your cultural tour in the museum you will be guided by a local guide who will also guide you through the botanic garden where there are different plant varieties calibrated in their local names.

7.      Encounter the rich Arab and Swahili culture while in Zanzibar

Zanzibar archipelago have had the strongest external cultural contact with the outside world, dating to over a 1000 years ago. But it is the interactions with the Arabs in since the 1rst century  that had a great impact to the region culture. Swahili is a language that developed out of the contacts and intermarriages between the Arabs and local Bantu communities. Today Zanzibar stone town, also known as mji Mkongwe,  is listed as UNESCO heritage site for having retained the Arabic townscape for centuries. During your cultural tour where you will be escorted by a local guide you will visit some landmark architectures like The old fort built in which is the oldest  in the island having been built in 1699 by the omani Arabs. You also have an opportunity to interact with the locals at forodhani market where you can buy different cultural artifacts and sample local cuisines often sold in the open market.