Tanzania is one of the most diverse countries in Africa, relatively unpopulated with an estimated population of around 40 million for 945,166 ²km. As you have read on this web site, it is a country of superlatives, Africa’s highest Mountain, the World’s largest game reserve, three of Africa’s largest lakes, one of which, Lake Victoria, is the second largest freshwater body of water in the world. But one fact about this country of superlatives that is to be celebrated, is that it is home to 120 different tribes, each with their own languages, their own culture, practising three main religions Christianity, Islam and indigenous beliefs, but all co-existing peacefully together.
There is a rich wealth of experiences in Tanzania for cultural tourists, in the history, art, music and practises of each area. Zanzibar, the Spice Island with its capital Stone Town, and its rich heritage of being a key trading post from the Sixteenth Century onwards, ruled in turn by the Portuguese, the Sultanate of Oman, which once had Zanzibar as its capital, to the British. In the narrow passages and ruined palaces of Stone Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can almost imagine yourself in the setting 1001 Nights. Then we have the Chagga agriculturalists on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, who in history built caves to protect their cattle and their families from the raiding Maasai herdsmen, who believed all the cattle in the world was theirs by right. Today you will find that, about 70% of the guides on Kilimanjaro are from the Chagga tribe who has been climbing Kilimanjaro for centuries. The team led by Hans Meyer whose successful attempt at reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro in 1889, was made up of Chagga porters and guides. Then there are the Maasai themselves, many of whom still follow their traditional way of life, moving their families from place to place to follow the grazing for their cattle, keeping to their initiation rites, practising polygamy , wearing their colourful dress, decorating themselves with beads and adopting their long ear loops as decoration from an from an early age. If you are lucky on one of our trips in traditional Maasai territory in the N’Gorongoro Highlands, you might well meet a Maasai tribe on the move. The shaven headed women will be following the loaded donkeys wearing their traditional dress. Many will have nursing babies on their backs tucked under their cloaks to keep the sun off them. If you climb Oldonyo L’Engai, your guides will be Maasai, as it is their sacred mountain.
Also we have mentioned in our trekking rubrique the Barabaig pastoralists, with their equally distinctive costumes, and the Hadza (Bushmen) around Lake Eyasi, who still adhere to their hunter gatherer way of life.
It would be a pity to visit such a diverse country of Tanzania, without coming up against its people. Of course on any trip, you will see Maasai tribesmen walking the busy streets of Arusha and Moshi, your guide on Kilimanjaro will tell you some of the Chagga legends and you will pass through Chagga farms on the lower slopes, and see the women working the fields, but we would like you to explore the culture of Tanzania in a little more depth, which is why we are proposing some short cultural tours to broaden your experience of our country.