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Tribe Visits

Chicago, Illinois
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Tribe Visits

Hi Everyone!

First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone for all their helpful hints, suggestions and reviews. I relied heavily on all the advice on this forum when booking my trip and I definitely couldn't have done it without you!

I do have a question regarding my visits with the tribes. My tour operator has two visits scheduled during my safari: a half day visit with the Hadzabe Bushmen and two full days and nights with the Maasai Tribe. My TO promised that these weren't the typical tourist performances but rather authentic experiences (this remains to be seen) but, either way, I'm not sure what to expect and how to behave. I don't want to accidentally insult or offend anyone. I know it's rude to take photos without asking permission but that's about all I know. Are there any other "faux pas" I should be aware of? Is it customary to leave money or gifts? Is two full days and nights with them too much of an intrusion?

Thanks so much for all your help!

Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: Tribe Visits

The Hadzapi visit will be authentic and you will be introduced to their way of life and even taken on a hunt.

The stay with the Masaai is more problematical. If this is as authentic as they say then it may well 'offend' your western sensibilities more than a bit but if you are prepared for that then go for it.

Both visits will have experience of cameras and one request at the outset should clear that one up for the whole visit. Both will love to see the results of your camera work. In the days of Polaroid I used to take a few and then gather them around to see the pictures 'develop' before their eyes.

Get your companions ready with their cameras to shoot the faces of those watching you.

Gifts are always welcome. I think this will be made plain to you at sometime or other.

Findlay, Ohio
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2. Re: Tribe Visits

I am certain that these are tourist staged event, you need to get quite a way from the Arusha/Moshi area in order to get out of the tourist area. Perhaps if you continue on down the Dodoma road to Babati you are getting out of the tourist area a bit.. You are paying for this visit, you don't need to leave them anything other than what was promised/stated.

Don't worry about not being politically correct when you are with them, they have seen it all with the number of tourist who visit them every year (and yes they do laugh at times behind their backs at some of their shenanigans). Tanzanians are by nature very hospitable and accepting of others. You will find some on here who will tell you that you must not use a certain hand when extending one to them or giving them something, don't worry about that. They know that you don't use that hand for the same as some of them do, so they think nothing of it but may get a tad amused at your bungling to avoid using it.

In the past 20+ years I have made all the possible "faux pas" and made some of them laugh at times. I never try to be anyone other than myself and that serves me well. And my work there is not in the tourist areas so I am with those not accustomed to tourists. And by the way there are over 120 tribes there, thus, over 120 different customs. You can't be expected to know them all.

Just go and be yourself and it will serve you well. And don't let others tell you that you can or can't do something, and that they will be offended if you do. Rubbish. Do you think they don't know that you are an American. They will quickly recognize that you are not a Tanzanian.

Chicago
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3. Re: Tribe Visits

I can not speak for the visit with the Maasai, but it sounds fascinating. I had never heard of that opportunity, or I would have looked into it. As for the Hadzabe, it is authentic, they just go about their business of hanging around the fire, then deciding to go off hunting with you following. I have arthritis in the knees, so I kept up for a while, then finally gave up, as they travel at a fast walk. I did get a chance to observe them find a bee tree, so they started a fire to smoke out the bees, and get the honey to eat. The poor volunteer who got the honeycomb did get stung a number of times. You go with a local guide who knows the tribes, and speaks English as well as the Hadzabe language, so you can ask him questions. They don't mind cameras, and really don't put on a show other than demonstrating shooting a bow and arrow at a target, then letting you try. The young boy seemed to enjoy showing me how, then showing how he is a better shot than me. The only time I noticed any feel of intruding was when the guide showed me the bush they use to sleep under, and an older grandmother type shooed me out of there. It was an interesting visit for me, and I have some good photos, as well as visiting the Datoga tribe who are metalworkers, and make the arrowheads for the Hadzabe. they did not expect any gifts, nor could the Hadzabe use any, although I was told that the guide supplies them with "special smokes" (you get the idea what type?). The Datoga sell their handmade pieces, so it is good courtesy to buy something.

I am guessing that photos are more of a concern with the Maasai. It is always better to ask. I know at one market I visited, there was a killing shed for goats to roast, and I started taking a picture of the blood-letting and one man got very angry at that.

Please come back to give a report of these experiences after your trip as I would be very interested to hear about them. What TO are you working with, by the way?

Edited: 09 August 2013, 19:50
Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: Tribe Visits

Now you have piqued my curiosity as to your entire itinerary and activities. Never heard of anyone spending 2 days with the Maasai. Would you be willing to share your itinerary? And did you end up using Nyayo Discovery?

Bristol
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5. Re: Tribe Visits

I guess this must really interest you if you are thinking of spending all this time with the tribes in which case then I would definately say do it. I have to say for me personally an hour or two at a Massai village was enough and having been once I don't feel the need to go back. I prefer to spend my time with Tanzanians who are not living a "traditional" Massai life, but that's me not you.

I guess just the fact that you are a tourist and your TO is arranging the visits (as they presumably have done for others before you) is bound to mean that the visits will be "touristy" to some extent. Do report back if you decide to do this.

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: Tribe Visits

Thanks everyone for the quick responses! So if my understanding is correct, it seems that gifts are welcome but not obligatory. If it's the proper custom, our guide will let us know. If I did decide to bring something with me from the States, however, what would be appropriate?

Quiltingmama: No, we decided not to go with Nyayo Discovery. Although we really liked their itinerary, I was a bit wary about using a company whose reputation we couldn't independently verify.

In the end, we decided to use African Scenic Safaris. Here's a brief summary of our itinerary:

Day 1 : Arrival

Late arrival at JRO. Transfer from JRO to Arusha

Day 2 : Arusha National Park

Visit to Arusha National Park. Enjoy walking around the base of Mt Meru and vehicle game viewing if you wish. Overnight Arusha

Day 3 :Arusha - Tarangire National Park

Travel from Arusha to Tarangire National Park. Game drive.

Overnight in Tarangire National Park

Day 4 : Tarangire

Today you have a full day to further explore Tarangire National Park.

Overnight in Tarangire National Park

Day 5 : Tarangire – Lake Manyara – Lake Eyasi

Travel to Lake Manyara National Park. Spend the afternoon on a game drive of this park, described as one of the hidden gems of Tanzania. After your game drive travel the short distance to Lake Eyasi.

Overnight at Lake Eyasi

Day 6 : Lake Eyasi – Ngorongoro

Lake Eyasi is home to the hunter-gathers ethnic group of the Hadzabe Bushmen. This indigenous tribe are probably the last living in true harmony with nature and are well know for their communication via clicking rather than speech. You will enjoy hunting with them and experiencing their way of life.

After lunch travel to Ngorongoro Crater

Overnight on the rim of the crater.

Day 7 : Ngorongoro Crater

Journey into the heart of this amazing, wonderous crater. Spend the full day within the crater floor.

Overnight on the rim of the crater

Day 8 : Ngorongoro Crater – Serengeti

Begin your journey from Ngorongoro to Serengeti. On route you have the opportunity to stop at Olduvai Gorge (one of the most amazing archeological sites in the world).

Overnight in Serengeti National Park

Days 9 : Serengeti

Full day to enjoy the Serengeti. This can be early morning and afternoon game drives or take lunch boxes for a full day game drive.

Overnight in Serengeti National Park

Day 10 : Serengeti

Another full day to explore Serengeti and game drive in different areas of the park.

Overnight in Serengeti National Park

Day 11 : Serengeti - Lake Natron

This morning journey to Lake Natron. Take a few hours to rest at the campsite before climbing the volcano at night (optional). The climb begins around midnight so you reach the top by sunrise.

Full day drive today with some on route game drive.

Overnight at Lake Natron

Day 12 : Lake Natron

Today you can spend the time resting from your climb on take one of the many activities around the area. These include visiting Lake Natron’s sparkling shores, seeing the millions of flamingos, visiting the nearby waterfalls or taking some easy hiking options.

Overnight at Lake Natron

Day 13 : Lake Natron – Maasai village

Drive to a remote Maasai village. Upon arrival you will be introduced to the village and the afternoon starts with a lesson on their traditional Maasai medicine. Once the Maasai men return from their day with their cattle you will have the chance to milk the cows, help collect firewood and watch the sunset. This evening you will experience a traditional Maasai goat ceremony and watch the Maasai dancing.

Overnight camping at the village

Day 14 : 29th Aug : Maasai village

Today you have much more to learn and discover about the Maasai way of life. The men will give you the chance to experience their spear throwing and have a jumping competition. One last activity for the trip includes the women teaching you about the art of their jewelry making. Free time will be available to spend time with and observe their way of life.

Overnight camping at the village

Day 15 : 30th Aug : Maasai village – Arusha airport

This morning you have more time to enjoy at the village before driving to Arusha airport, in time to check-in for your flight to Zanzibar

Findlay, Ohio
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7. Re: Tribe Visits

Sounds like a good itinerary. You will be spending a lot of time in the Maasai village. If they bring out a long skinny gourd (sometimes with ornaments or bead-work on it) and ask you to take a drink from it, know that it is milk mixed with cow blood, and sometimes it is aged so that it sours and ferments. I would pass on this. I have been offered this many times but always passed, who knows what diseases the cow has. You will not be offending them to refuse it (besides they typically do this because they know it is unusual for you to drink it, and they do it for orneriness), I always tell them that I am a vegetarian so I can't do that. They don't know.

Isle of Man, United...
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8. Re: Tribe Visits

A good itinerary. You should encounter lots of wildlife on this trip. don't pin too many hopes on seeing Flamingo at Lake Natron. It will depend on water levels in the Lake.

With the maasai drink. I tell em it is against my religion and they respect that. I did try it once. It did not kill me but it was not something to ask for the recipe to take home.

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: Tribe Visits

Thanks for the heads up on the drink! Duly noted! For a moment there, when you said that they brought out a long skinny gourd, I thought you were going to tell me it was for smoking some "special smokes" as sciguy wrote. I'm all up for participating in local traditions but I think I may have to pass on this one.

Chicago
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10. Re: Tribe Visits

When are you taking your trip? This itinerary sounds exciting and I can't wait to hear how it goes.

BTW- I saw that you are planning to stop at Olduvai. If you are interested in archaeology, when you are at Lake Natron, near Ngare Sero (I think that is the right name?) campsite, there is a trackway of ancient homonid footprints that would be worthwhile seeing before they might be covered up for protection like the Olduvai Laetoli footprints.

(It sounded like you were disappointed that the gourd didn't have to do with the "special smokes". Maybe if you ask the Hadzabe warriors, they will share. It is very interesting watching them. They take deep drags on the pipe, then cough for a few minutes. This happens every time, but they keep it up.)

Edited: 10 August 2013, 00:22