Due to Tanzania’s rich cultural diversity there are numerous cultural programmes allowing visitors an insight into the different lifestyles among the 120 tribes within Tanzanian borders.
The Maasai pastoralists are the most frequently encountered tribe as visitors pass through their homelands to reach parks such as Serengeti. Their livelihood revolves around their livestock, cows, sheep and goats which graze the open plains alongside the wildlife. Their homesteads are constructed from sticks, mud and dung.
Visitors are encouraged to visit only designated villages ,as this ensures fees collected are fairly distributed. As well as showing you around, they will perform song and dance and the women make beaded goods which you have the opportunity to purchase.
Bushman of Eyasi.
The Hadzabe are a tribe of hunter gatherers who live in the area around Lake Eyasi. Their lifestyle is under threat from modern encroachment. They rely on tradition hunting, using bow and arrow and the women collect wild fruits and roots. Their knowledge of bush craft
offer a unique insight into a lifestyle which has not changed for hundreds of years.
Other culture tour programmes focus on hiking and village tours and farming of cash crops such as bananas, rice and coffee. Culture tours are easily arranged and revenue collected is put into community projects.
Tanzania has a number of historically important sites which are well worth visiting.
Olduvai gorge is situated in Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It is the site where archaeologists discovered the remains of early man, giving rise to the common name for the region ‘the cradle of mankind’. The erosion in the valley reveals the different layers of rocks laid down over time which helps to accurately predict the age of the fossil findings. Regular talks are given and there is a small but interesting museum, which also houses a cast of the famous Laetoli footprints which were discovered nearby. These were the fossilised footprints of an adult and child, believed to be some 3.7 million years old
Kondoa rock paintings
One of Tanzania’s little known gems is the Kondoa rock paintings. The main sites are situated near the small village of Kolo on the Babati to Dodoma road. Believed to be some 5000 years old the rock art depicts aspects of life then. The intricate paintings are scenes of hunting, animals and humans dancing. You must first obtain a permit and take a guide to visit the paintings. Basic accommodation is available in Kolo or Kondoa.
The slave trade
Historically Tanzania was an important corridor for the transportation of slaves and ivory from the interior to the coast. remnants of this dark period of history still remain. Tabora was a major trading point, today a museum there is dedicated to the work done by Dr David Livingstone to stop the inhumane trafficking of slaves. On the coast the towns of Bagamoyo and Pangani served as trading ports where slaves were shipped to the island of Zanzibar for sale. The museum in Bagamoyo houses many artefacts from this gruesome past.
The island of Zanzibar is also steeped in the history of the slave trade with the slave market now the site of a church. The architecture in Stone town is heavily influenced by the Arab presence with beautifully carved doors and narrow streets.
Many towns and cities still retain buildings from Tanzania’s time under colonial rule both German and British.