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Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

New York City, New...
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Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

My wife and I basically found it to be a shake-down. They greeted us with a song and a dance, which takes about five minutes, and is cool. Then we did the vertical jumping thing with them, which also lasts about five minutes, and that's also fun. Then we spent about five minutes in one of the huts, and that's where the tour ends and the hard-selling began.

This was supposed to be the half-way point of the tour. At this point our guide requested his tip. I had a nice one planned for him at the end of the tour, but I was turned off by the demand, so I gave him less than I had planned. He then showed us their crafts, but wouldn't tell us the price. The chief said, "pick what you want, and we'll discuss the price afterwards."

We picked three things - trinkets that respectable souvenir shops on Zanzibar would have charged $25 for total. The chief asked for $125, laying on the guilt trip pretty thick about how we should help support the tribe (which we were doing just by paying to visit, I was led to believe).

We only bought one of the things, and the enthusiasm basically went out of the tour. They took us to see the kids' school, where the children physically tried to snatch our belongings off of us, and the adults did nothing to stop this.

I sort of expected as much, but my wife was highly disappointed.

Edited: 12 September 2013, 22:53
South Riding VA
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1. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

Where exactly was this located?

Thanks-chris

melbourne
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for Tanzania
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2. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

I am not surprised.

Generally speaking If you pay for cultural activities irrespective of where they are they are designed for tourists and a money making venture.

You need to get off the regular tourist circuits to get the real feel for the Maasai communities...and other tribes such as found near Babati.

Tarangire is probably one of the best areas ...not many tourists and you can visit villages and schools not oft visited.

There was a recent post by Sara who had such an experience.

Disappointing about the guide.

melbourne
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3. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

Ngorongoro I am guessing but could be wrong.

New York City, New...
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4. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

Just outside Serengeti, which, yes, is the Ngorogoro conservation area. I wouldn't know the name of the particular village.

Edited: 13 September 2013, 00:27
Honolulu, Hawaii
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5. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

Have heard this several times and why we never did any of these visits.

Yet had wonderful interactions with Maasai people both at Lake Natron and around Arusha.

Must get around to write that trip report.

Chicago
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6. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

I think there have been enough reports on the forum about these touristy villages. I also did one, as I just wanted to have the experience, but I knew what I was in for. They are what they are, and for some people they are a tiny peek, although staged, into the life. Obviously, there are better and more realistic experiences available, but for some people they might be too real-life, just like the Hadzabe visits and such. It depends on what you wanted what you expect.

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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7. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

Any guide which would ask me for a tip would get a good tip from me, and it wouldn't be monetary. These are tourist traps and when you go to them you should expect this.

Authentic village visits can be arranged, but not in a tourist area typically. You have to get out of the tourist areas and as NE suggested go at least to Babati to get away from the tourist areas. I would probably take someone further down the road to Kondoa, just to ensure that there are no tourist traps. And these "authentic" visits would not cost anything except to get there, get out of your vehicle and just walk about visiting their markets, restaurants, bars, churches, schools, etc. I've never been turned away from a school (except during exam times, and I know when those are being done). I used to take people visiting Dodoma to a small village about 10km from Dodoma town and we would visit women making pottery (while the men drank their home brew) and they were always excited to see us come as they knew they would be able to sell some of their pottery (and by the way the cost was about 500 shillings each which was expensive for them but I always insisted that they give them at least that). I would always ask if we could visit their homes and they always invited us in. I would pass them a 5,000 Tsh note when we left and that was all the cost of this. This village makes cooking pots of all sizes which they load onto buses and send into Morogoro and Dar to sell. And the women I had with me got a real African cooking pot to take home.

melbourne
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8. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

For the Maasai you can go to Lolkisale or Terat. Lake Natron is also a good area as is Enguruka on the way, if driving form Mto wa Mbu.

Edited: 14 September 2013, 22:57
Kurashiki, Japan
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9. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

"Any guide which would ask me for a tip would get a good tip from me, and it wouldn't be monetary"

Exactly, Karl! I had a tuk-tuk guy in Phnom Penh take me around for a couple hours last time there and after I paid him, he said "Where's my tip?" and I said "It's included."

People are overtipping and this is leading to people expecting tips, and generous ones at that. I don't have anything against tipping, but I only do so if service is above and beyond my expectations(where folks normally do not expect a tip as in Asian countries) and I always make sure to tip my team when mountain climbing & my guide/cook on safari. If they provided substandard or marginal service I probably would not do so but I have been very satisfied so far (in Tanzania).

10. Re: Dissappointing Experience with Maasai Cultural Tourism

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