Tanzania Culture

Your guide is a local person born and raised in the area, well trained in their job and proficient in English. Cultural tours can be half-day events or incorporated into a longer safari. Whether you spend the morning in a Maasai boma or trek by a camel up a local summit, stopping to learn about traditional plants and tribal stories, a cultural tour is a must-do for anyone wanting to see the rich life of the Tanzanian people. Below are some of Tanzania’s best known cultural tours.

Eyasi

Home to some of the last hunter-gathers in Africa, the Hadzabe Bushmen have made the area around Lake Eyasi their long-time hunting grounds. Day trips or longer safari with the Hadzabe bushmen give visitors a chance to experience a way of life that has long since vanished elsewhere on the planet. Morning hunt with the Hadzabe warriors, armed with bows and arrows, offer a fascinating glimpse into an ancient way of life. Honey-gathering, walks to find traditional healing plants and food, and traditional dances are all parts of the Hadzabe cultural tourism experiences.

Kilimanjaro

Why not combine a hike up the world’s most impressive mountain with a visit to its people, the historically progressive Chagga? See traditional and modern Chagga art, culture and homes.

Maasailand

See how the Maasai, among the last of the world’s pastoral peoples, are adapting to the 21st century in their own way and in their own time. Visit Engaruka, the lost city in the shadow of the Great Rift Wall, where Maasai mix irrigation farming and traditional herding. In Mkuru, near Arusha National Park, short camel treks with local Maasai give visitors a glimpse into nomadic culture, as they climb nearby Ol Donyo Lengai.

Meru

Only minutes from bustling Arusha are spots that look and feel as they did decades ago. But everywhere too, is transition as the Waarusha and the Wameru peoples adapt tradition to progress and science. Visitors can meet a tradional healer, learn about animal husbandry and agriculture, and buy carvings and foodstuffs from local handicraft co-operatives or women’s businesses.

Southern Pare Mountains

Walk the most remote mountains of the northern Tanzania with local farmers, through traditional Pare villages and dense forests. From half day to three day guided hikes, this is an opportunity to step into the culture of the Pare people. Visit the Mghimbi Caves, secret hiding place during the slave raids, then proceed to Malameni Rock, the scene of human sacrifices to appease evil spirits up until the 1930s. Walk through the Ikongwe Village, believed by locals to be a gift from heaven, surrounded by mountain terraces and small waterfalls. Profits from these tours are used to subsidize much needed energy saving stoves and educational scholarships

Usambaras

Africa’s Switzerland, a hiker’s paradise, with dozens of varied treks from half day to a week. The stunning mountainous district of Lushoto was home to one of Tanzania’s great historical kingdoms.

Swahili Coast

Swahili means “coastal” in Arabic and the Swahili Coast refers to Tanzania coastline, a beautiful and historic region rich in history, natural beauty and culture. Ancient Greek manuscript shows that the east coast of Africa was visited by sailing vessels in classical times. In the 9th or 10th centuries came – Shirazi Persians from modern-day Iran, sailing their ancient dhows across the Indian Ocean.

Today, remainders of the Swahili coast’s magnificent past can be found up and down the length of Tanzania. The brass-bound chests and heavy wooden doors of the Swahili Empire are found far inland, imported originally by Arabic Slave traders who led caravans into the interior in search of fortune. On the coast itself, crumbling mosques nestle among palm trees by white beaches and Persian baths lie ruined in the remained of ancient villas.

Bagamoyo

Bagamoyo was once the center of slave and ivory trading. It was the last point reached by the caravans of slaves who arrived here for transportation to faraway places. Today this attractive coastal town still bears reminders of its past – the fortified house where slave were kept while wait for transportation still stands, as does the tree under which they were bought and sold.

Kilwa

Kilwa Kisiwani Island was once the trading center of the Swahili Empire. The ruins of the settlement still remain and are considered to be one of the most important Swahili historical sites in East Africa. The famous traveler and chronicler Ibn Battuta visited Kilwa in the 14th century, describe his admiration for the architecture and graceful situation of the capital city. Later the island became trading post for slaves traveling north from Mauritius and Mozambique. The end of the town’s supremacy as a trading port came when it was sacked by a tribe of cannibals in 1588.

Mafia Island

The name Mafia derives from the Ma-afir, a tribe from ancient Yemen who dominated the coast around 1000BC. Mafia Island is the largest of an island archipelago, off the beaten track and known to only the discerning travelers. The island is surrounded by a barrier reef so rich in marine life, it has been designated Marine Park by the World Wide Fund Nature. Tiny populations of pygmy hippo live in the remains of an old lagoon, cut off from the mainland centuries ago. Mafia’s interesting history and stunning beaches, combined with several luxurious and discreet hotels, make it one of the Tanzania’s hidden gems.

Tanga and Pangani

Ruins close to the active port of Tanga attest to its importance as a trading post in the Swahili civilization. The ruins, once large mosque, include more than 40 tombs. Tanga has pleasant beaches and is a convenient point from which to visit the spectacular Usambara Mountains. Just south of Tanga is Pangani, once the home of Arab slave traders, set on a lovely estuary of the Pangani River.