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Tanzania Cultural Tourism

Cultural tourism in Tanzania allows tourists to have a rich understanding of the people living in and around the national park areas. You will learn, first hand, the customs, the traditions and the cultures of villagers and come to appreciate their way of life. At times, you may hear ancient stories of the wildlife and ancestral tales that attempt to explain natural phenomena.

Cultural tours allow us to learn about a people who, at first, may seem to be different, but as you learn about them and their natural environment, you realize that people are not very different from one another. We hope that you will find these cultural tours in Tanzania are both enjoyable and memorable.

Please note that We have no itineraries for Tanzania culture; however, you may request that one or more programmes be included in your custom/tailor made itinerary.

The Maasai are a Nilotic group, migrating to eastern Africa by way of southern Sudan in the lower Nile valley around the 15th century. They settled in the Great Rift Valley stretching from what is today northern Kenya to central Tanzania between the 17th and late 18th century. They raided cattle using spears and shields, but were most feared for throwing clubs which could be accurately thrown from up to 70 paces.

The Maasai (Masai) could be the most known Kenyan tribe outside Kenya especially for tourists The Maasai (Masai) are more commonly associated with Kenya, but they've been a presence around the Ngorongoro Crater of Tanzania for over a 150 years and are the area's main residents. They are predominantly a warrior tribe whose lives revolve around herding cattle. They believe the rain God Ngai entrusted the cattle to the Maasai (Masai) people when the earth and sky split, and wealth is measured in number of cattle. Since cattle was given to the Maasai (Masai), they believe its okay to steal from other tribes

A stereotypical image most people have of the Maasai (Masai) warrior is that of a tall and slender man clutching a spear in one hand with his red cloth wrapped around his waist or over his shoulders. The Maasai (Masai) men are also seen in a trance like state jumping in a uniform motion in one spot, this brings them to a trace like state and can go one for hours.

The Maasai (Masai) drink cows blood that they believe makes the body stronger and warmer and is good for children and the elderly to build up their strength. It is often drunk mixed with the milk of the cow. An arrow is shot at close range to puncture the jugular vein of the cow. The blood is drawn into a skin gourd and later mixed with milk to be drunk by the gathering. The animal is not left to bleed but is carefully tended to, till it fully heals. Their rites and traditional ceremonies are taken very seriously, and it is not common to allow outsiders to attend. Elders play a very important role in the community and society at large.

People of the Maasai (Masai) tribe live in small settlements of 8-15 huts per village; the kraal (a traditional house or hut) is surrounded by a thorn bush fence, which acts like barbed wire, protecting the tribe and animals against enemies. The huts are built using branches, twigs and grass with a cement of cow dung and urine, and inside animal skins and cushions of dry grasses are used for comfort. The mixture is as strong as cement after it dried in the sun and does not smell. They cannot stand up straight inside the hut and the only openings are that of the doorway and a small opening in the roof or wall which allows smoke from a continually blazing fire inside to escape. Dried cow dung is used to fuel the fire. The family sleeps on beds of woven branches cushioned with dry grasses and animal skins.

Maasai (Masai) women and girls have numerous chores besides building the dung hut, which take about 7 months. It is their responsibility to milk the cows and fetch water, whatever the distance may be. The Maasai (Masai) women are also expected to pick calabashes or gourds from vines and clean the insides of the gourds as well as decorate them with leather and beads. A woman is by birth a member's of her father's family line and cannot own land or cattle. They are minors in society, always represented by their father, and later their husband. If a woman has no sons in her marriage she will be scorned and forced to beg in her old age, as she will have no possessions or money and no one to care for her.

For the boys, fifteen is the coming of age ritual, when they become circumcised and become Morani (young warriors), formally they would hunt a lion with a spear during the rites of passage ceremony but lion hunting is now illegal.

Children of the tribe have importance in rituals like rainmaking during a drought when the children sing for the rain. Playing "sheep's and goats" is a common game for children, an equivalent of "cowboys and Indians". Teenage boys make trouble playing with the cattle and playing "knock down ginger" with a cow replacing the door! They are known for their tradition of hair plaits, heavy iron necklaces, and fierce warriormanship, often depicted carrying a spear. The Maasai (Masai)'s unique hair is a clear living symbol of their tradition and culture. By wearing the plaits, it proves the individual is a true Morani sticking to their own traditions.

Nowadays, Maasai (Masai) boost their income by selling beads, masks, and carvings to tourists. In a curious way, tourism helps the Maasai (Masai) to retain and develop the Maasai (Masai) culture by transforming their believes into a business. The ceremonies you will see being performed as a visitor are traditional but they are staged for the tourist audience. It doesn't destroy the Maasai (Masai) culture because the tourists don't change the fundamentals of Maasai (Masai) living, only observe, whilst helping to rejuvenate centuries old customs.

The Hadzabe, or bushmen, are among the last true hunter-gather societies left in the world. They are closely linked with San in southern Africa, who live hear the Kalahari desert (the stars of "The Gods Must Be Crazy.") They hunt on foot with bow and arrows, don't have permanent homes and speak a "click" language.

The National Geographic ran a great article on the Hadzabe in the Dec. 2009 issue. One of the bushmen we met was photographed in the article.

Like the Datoga, they live near Lake Eyasi. We got up WELL BEFORE dawn one morning to catch up with them and go hunting. When we first got there, the hunters were still getting ready–putting on baboon fur headdresses, checking bows and arrows and smoking joints. Apparently, marijuana has become a big part of their lives.

Around the campfire, there were an older man, who was fletching arrows, and an older woman, who was weaving fronds into long strips that I think get made into baskets. They told us that all the other women and children had been gone a day or two, hunting for honey. Fiona was disappointment that she didn't get to meet any "bushmen children," as she called them.

As the hunters were getting ready, Jack and Owen got a chance to shoot the bows. I think the Hadzabe were quite surprised at how well they shot (they have bows, arrows and targets at home.)

As hunting with the bushmen requires running through the woods for a couple hours, Fiona and I stayed behind. She was also quite apprehensive that they might catch and kill a baboon, which is one of their favorite targets. While they were gone, we hung out with the basket-making lady and the arrow-making guy.

Apparently the hunting trip was quite exciting, although they only came home with a squirrel and a bird. The bushmen immediately threw them on the fire — whole and un-gutted. As they cooked, they pulled fur and feather off once they were charred. They would pull a piece of the bird or squirrel off the fire and use their knives to cut off cooked bites, which they offered around. We all had some. I think they probably eat every last bit of the game.

The Datoga tribe - Cultural experience Visiting the Datoga tribe will complete your cultural experience at Lake Eyasi. The Datoga are skilled farmers and craftsman. You will visit their habitat, and experience thier culture first hand. Be prepared for the experience of a lifetime.


The Datoga people live in Tanzania. The most general name for this widely-dispersed ethnic group is Datoga, though it is sometimes spelled Tatooga. In the outside world they are often known by the Sukuma name for them, Taturu. Very few sources have 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 a separate people, but as speaking the Datoga language.


There is little concrete history of the Datoga people. Their migration history has been reconstructed through comparative linguistics and study of oral traditions of the Datoga and their neighbors. The Datoga are linguistically and culturally classified as Highland (Southern) Nilotes. Their origins are thought to be in the Southern Sudan or western Ethiopia highlands, probably 3000 years ago. A gradual southward migration of their ancestral people resulted in a settlement of the highland areas of Kenya and Tanzania by speakers of Nilotic languages, herding and ultimately farming in those rich highlands by about AD 1500. These Highland Nilotes now fall into two groups, the Kalenjin cluster of peoples in Kenya, speaking several closely-related languages, and Datoga, whose language is more distantly related.


The Datoga themselves blend in with their environment, their dress being the color of the reddish brown soil. Only on closer inspection will they appear colorful with their reddish, patched leather dresses, bead work, and brass bracelets and necklaces. A prominent decoration is tatooing of circular patterns around the eyes. This people are part of the broad Nilotic migration from the Sudan along the Nile River centuries ago. They were cut off from other Highland Nilotes by later migrations of Bantu and Plains Nilotic peoples like the Maasai. The Highland Nilotes are distantly related to the Plains Nilotes like the Samburu, Maasai and Karamajong-Turkana and the River Nilotes like the Luo. 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. Other Tanzanians and 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 language, with its dialects, is a Southern Nilote language, related distantly to the Kalenjin languages of Kenya. About 20% also speak the language of their Southern Cushitic neighbors, Iraqw. A language closely related to Datoga is Omotik, the speech of another small northern Tanzania people. The Omotik are close in cluture and language, related genetically and linguistically to the Datoga. More distantly related to the Kalenjin cluster of Nilotic peoples, the Omotik show clear signs of being linguistically influenced by Kalenjin languages in recent history. (The Omotik are one of the groups commonly called Dorobo.) Only about 5% speak Swahili, the national language of Tanzania. This further accentuates their isolation. The Barabaig dialect is spoken by over half the Datoga. Their literacy rate is only about 1% and there is very little available in their language. Schools available are conducted in Swahili.

Political Situation:

The Datoga have basically been bypassed in modern political developments. They were not active in the colonial period and have lived in the small circle of their contacts with neighboring peoples, mostly in a belligerent relationship.


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 centers in a neighborhood 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.

Chagga are located in north part of Tanzania , the lives around base and slope of Kilimanjaro. The Chaga also called Wachaga, Chagga, Jagga, Dschagga, Waschagga, or Wachagga) Their relative wealth comes from not only the favorable climate of the area, but also from successful agricultural methods which include extensive irrigation systems and continuous fertilization practiced for thousands of years. They were one of the first tribes in the area to convert to Christianity. This may have given them an economic advantage over other ethnic groups, as they had better access to education and health care as Christians, E, Christopher (2002), P. H. Gulliver (1969).

Early migration patterns of the Niger–Congo Bantu's led the Chagga to settle in the North Pare Mountains. This is the Home of the ancestral chagga . The population growth by about eleventh or twelve century led a number of people to begin looking for a new land on which to live. They found it on the nearby and, in those days, still heavily forested southern and eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The movement of the early chagga banana farmers to Kilimanjaro set off a period of rapid and extensive cultural amalgamation, by

Traditional food

Chaga grows banana, potatoes,yarm beans, peas, red millet and bananas.Traditional food for chagga is Mtori, kitawa, Macharali, Ng'ande, Kiumbo, Ngararimo, Shiro, Ndafu. The chagga brew a delicious drink called Mbege, which is made of millet and bananas and left to ferment for 10 days prior to festivities.

Family life and Marriage Customs of Chagga

Traditionally, the Chagga marriage ceremony was a long process, starting with betrothal proceedings and continuing long after the couple was married. Bridal payments were made over the wife's lifetime. Today, Christian couples are married in churches. There is much drinking and feasting throughout the marriage negotiations and celebrations. The groom builds the house where he will live with his wife after marriage. After the birth of the first child, the husband moves into a tenge (hut) where he was living with one bull to show his wealth, and the mother lives with her children. Chagga couples have an average of six children. Great importance is placed on having a son to continue the lineage. The ruling system of chagga were divided according to province example Mangi sina of kibosho, mangi Rindi of moshi town etc. Mangi are great chiefs that govern largely clan-based states. The great Mangis controlled chaga affairs even during the oppressive and depressing colonial times, even though some ethnic groups did not have such control. It was also during this time that the Chagga held an election in 1952 to elect Mangi Mkuu, (Chief of all Chieftains)' to look after their affairs and speak on behalf of the chagga people.

Cultural heritage

Traditional Chagga instruments include wooden flutes, bells, and drums. Dancing and singing are part of almost every celebration.

Religion and believes

The traditional faith was based around belief in a god called Ruwa. Ruwa was a tolerant deity who, though neither the creator of the universe nor of man, nevertheless set the latter free from some sort of unspecified incarceration. Ruwa had little to do with mankind following this episode, however, so the Chagga instead worshipped their ancestors, whom they believed could influence events on Earth. Christianity was introduced to the Chagga people in the middle of the nineteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century, both Protestants and Catholics had established missions in the region. With the adoption of Western religions, traditional Chagga beliefs and practices have been reduced or adapted to the new Christian beliefs. Islam was introduced to the Chagga people by early Swahili caravan traders. Islam brought a sense of fellowship not only with the Chagga of different regions, but also with Muslims of other ethnic groups.

Craft and hobbies

Traditionally, the Chagga made their own utensils, mainly from wood. These items included small bowls, huge beer tubs, spoons, and ladles. Iron items included bells, ornaments, hoes, and spears. The Chagga also made their own weapons and animal traps. Chagga musical instruments include wooden flutes, bells, and drums. Basket weaving was also common. This art is now dying out as more items are bought at local stores.