When you think East African tribes, it’s more than likely that the first one to come to mind will be the world renowned Maasai. The total population of the Maasai that live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania totals approximately half a million people, with a near 50,000 living in and around the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. These nomadic people arrived in Ngorongoro about 200 years ago, an area which despite pressures from the Tanzanian government, has now been established as a Maasai region.
A visit to one of Ngorongoro’s Maasai communities is a cultural insight into East African heritage like no other. Traditional bomas – made from mud, sticks, grass and cow dung – are configured into circular villages which are then enclosed by a fence fashioned from thorned Acacia branches to protect their cattle from any roaming lions. Some Maasai people prefer to get on with their pastoral lives without interference from the modern world, but a few welcome guests into their fold, eager to teach the world about their way of life – these are very proud people with fascinating stories to tell.
After all, the vast plains and incredible wildlife may define East Africa’s landscapes but it’s the Maasai people that give this part of the world its distinctive cultural flavour. Here, you will meet a tribe that is well and truly at one with nature – a rarity in this day and age. Known for their strength as warriors and hunters, as well as their striking clothing and jewelry, meeting the Maasai people is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you’d like to inject a spot of culture into your trip to East Africa, make sure to visit a Maasai Tribe whilst you’re in Ngorongoro on either of our Classic Tanzania or Classic Kenya & Tanzania base itineraries. Head over to our itinerary builder now to start planning your trip.
A village visit is an enriching experience and tends to involve a routine introduction into the Maasai way of life. Often, you’re treated to a traditional dance by the tribe, with the highlight being the male rite of passage ritual. Each male tribe member will take it in turns to jump as high as possible in order to impress female onlookers – the higher the jump, the more eligible the bachelor. Duh.
After some more dancing and a god ol’ sing-song, certain members of the tribe will take you to see their humble abodes. And humble they really are. Each boma (meaning homestead) has been painstakingly erected by its female inhabitant from the natural resources at hand in this environment – largely mud. The Maasai people still abide by patriarchal rule, with men being allowed several wives and each wife living in their own, hand-built boma. James Brown’s words have never rung so true. This really is a man’s world that would be nothing without the women or the girls.
You’ll also have a chance to see the runnings of the village school and purchase any traditional Maasai jewellery before you leave. Even if it’s not your style, the momento is definitely worth the buy.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania.
Visits to a Maasai Village can only be done with an organised tour which often run at various hours throughout the day.
Fee is dependent on the tribe that you visit but you will be expected to pay for the experience. It’s worth keeping some extra money on you too as it’s likely that won’t want to leave without some souvenirs.
Traditional tribe so it’s best to be respectful and not wear anything too short or revealing.
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