Many travelers are interested in visiting a Maasai village while traveling in Tanzania, but how can you plan to visit the Maasai authentically?
Most Maasai village day trips are organized in Maasai cultural bomas, set up for tourists near the roads leading to the most famous National Parks. On a Maasai cultural boma, you can see the traditional Maasai houses, meet the people, learn about their pastoralist culture, and buy souvenirs. The cultural boma is built for tourism, and it's a community-based tourism initiative where the Maasai community gets income while showing their culture to tourists.
If you want to have a more authentic experience, you need to visit a real Maasai village. When going off-road to explore out-of-the-beaten-path experiences, we recommend staying a few days if it suits your travel plans, giving you more time to get to know Maasai better and build a deeper connection.
Similarly, you can visit Datoga pastoralists and Hadzabe hunter-gatherers in Tanzania. When you choose a local tour operator or travel agency, ensure their tours and experiences are profitable and sustainable for the indigenous communities and people you visit.
Visit Natives, for example, use only tours that Maasai (or other tribes) design and guide themselves. You can stay in a Maasai widow's home, so your adventure also supports the most vulnerable Maasai women. Visit Natives also purchase health insurance for every booking.
Selim Tanfous recently stayed with Maasai, Datoga, and Hadzabe in Tanzania. He traveled to a Maasai village in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, lived in a Datoa village in Lake Eyasi, and joined the Hadzebe hunter-gatherers. But let's chat with Selim and explore what he says about staying in a Maasai village in Tanzania.
What is your main reason to travel?
I travel mainly to expand my horizons, discover new cultures, and connect with people from different countries. It's so enriching and helps me put my way of seeing life into perspective and, in a way, value the roots I belong to as well. It's almost food for my soul, allowing me to regenerate my mind and body.
I chose to travel during the pandemic for a few reasons: I needed a vacation after a year of intense work, and almost 365 days without a real break became unsustainable. The second reason is that I couldn't stand the situation where I had to give up on something I love so much indefinitely; I had to prove to myself and others that we could safely travel even during the pandemic. The last reason I learned to live in the present and grab opportunities when they come, and what Visit Natives offered was not to be missed.
Why did you choose to travel with Visit Natives?
For 20 years now, I have been following various TV shows on indigenous people and have always been fascinated and intrigued by their way of living and was always curious to understand them better, to be able to understand their culture, and also to share my vision of the world with them. VisitNatives was the only one offering this far from the traditional touristic experience. I sought something immersive, off-the-beaten tracks centered on indigenous people. When I traveled with you last year, it was an eye-opener, and I understood the word of responsible travel better.
Was traveling different during the pandemic?
Well, I had to adjust to all the new procedures required to travel. Certainly lengthier and a bit hectic, but I felt safe, and since most airports and planes are empty, it wasn't bad. It is not something that would stop me from traveling again; we have to learn to live with this new virus.
How was it to stay with Datoga and Maasai families in Tanzania? Sharing the life of these unique tribes and knowing their history is just priceless. We live in a society where we barely see a neighbor welcoming his new neighbor, but when I visited the Datoga, Masai, or Hadzabe, I felt they still carry these values that we hardly find genuinely nowadays: hospitality without conditions. I was not a white stranger who just came to observe or take pictures, but I was welcomed warmly, introduced to most sacred rituals, and, most importantly, had a lot of fun experiencing their traditional way of living. Even fetching water from a distant well was a moment full of laughter and joy. Can you share some highlights from your last trip?
It's always hard to answer this question. There were many, but if I want to remember some everlasting memories, with Datogas, we were able to break the ice very quickly, and it led to a memorable night where we shared stories and intimate questions for hours; it was again proof that people are people wherever we go, we have the same dreams, sensitive to same comments and joy is driven by simple things. The second moment for me was when the sun was setting in Ngorongoro after our arrival by a few hours. it got suddenly quiet. We could hear only the cowbells, and the breeze was cool enough to calm and start soaking the energy of this place that felt like it was on another planet
Is there any advice you would like to share with other people considering booking a trip now?
To me, this is the right time to travel: it is not crowded and allows you to enjoy a lot of these remote and untouched places. Also, it is the most sustainable way to help the tourism industry and indigenous people get through this tough period. Just follow the extra travel advice, and everything will go fine.
Do you have any future travel plans already?
I wish I could clone myself so I can enjoy multiple places I want to visit. I have a long wish list :). On a more serious note, I didn't have enough time in Ngorongoro so I definitely want to come back and experience other aspects of Masai life, especially when they start migrating cows to other locations. I hope to make two other trips in the near future: attend the biggest Tuareg festival in Niger and spend time with the Eagle Hunters in Mongolia.
Thank you, Selim, for sharing your travel story with us. We had such a great time traveling together, and we hope to see you soon again!
Are you interested in visiting the Maasai, Datoga or Hadzabe tribes in Tanzania? Join us on our extraordinary journeys and walk beside zebras and gnus in the most beautiful nature, commonly referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. We camp in the wild bush, where you can hear nocturnal sounds like hyenas laughing or lions roaring. During the day, you learn Maasai bush medication and holistic healing. Explore all our trips and contact us for more details.
You can even have an opportunity to observe unique rituals and ceremonies in Tanzania.