Hadzabe and Datoga Tribe Visit
I’d love to tell you about an awesome cultural experience when in Tanzania – my Hadzabe and Datoga tribe visit. I’ve been on safari in Tanzania several times and I love the opportunity to sit in an open safari jeep with the sun on my face and wind in my hair. My days are often spent searching for the next great wildlife encounter to photograph. No day is ever the same and the variety of animal experiences that one can have is vast. On my most recent Tanzania safari Salim Mrindoko, the director of Off the Beaten Path Safaris, suggested we take a break from the typical wildlife safari in Tanzania for a cultural experience. He suggested we spend a day with the local Hadzabe and Datoga tribes, learning about their culture and customs. I wasn’t sure what to expect…in short – it was beyond expectations – what an incredible day this was!
In the Lake Eyasi region, a quick drive from the Ngorongoro Crater, reside several smaller tribes separate from the more commonly known Maasai. Lake Eyasi is where you can meet the Hadzabe and Datoga tribes. We started our day by hiring a local English-speaking guide, Rami, who is from the Datoga tribe – he accompanied us on our visit and translated for us.
First, we visited the Hadzabe tribe. The Hadzabe are a nomadic society of hunter-gathers, known for their oral ‘click-tongue’ language – it is estimated that there are less than 1200 remaining tribes people in the world. This tribe lives in small groups of approximately 20-30 members. It is a largely egalitarian society where all society members are considered equal. They are unique in that they do not own livestock. The men tend to hunt pairs or small groups and have amazing bow and arrow skill – they hunt small to large bird, small mammals such as squirrels and larger mammals such as the serval cat, baboon and even warthog. The women tend to forage in larger groups for berries, tubers, greens and honey.
On our safari in Tanzania we were able to experience the hunting skills with a group of three men. Once they caught some smaller game they quickly made a fire in the bush to cook and eat the small meat they obtained (larger bounties would be brought home to the rest of the group). Back at camp, we were taught about their different arrows and learned about some medicine plants used in their culture. We were allowed to practice our own skills with the bow and arrow. Lastly, we experienced the joyful song and dance of the tribe with handmade instruments.
After finishing with the Hadzabe, we located a local Datoga tribe. The Datoga live in the same region, but are very different from Hadzabe – they are a pastoralist society that is known for its skill as blacksmiths. Hadzabe tend to trade honey and other food for the arrows made by the Datoga. At the Datoga tribe we were able to sit inside one of their homes, meet with the women of one family (they are a polygamous society wherein the women choose subsequent wives) to discuss their lifestyles (we had a mutual question and answer session about our very different lives), learned how they ground maize for food and then witnessed the amazing skill by which their men melt down scrap metals into arrows, spears, knives and beautiful jewelry.
If you plan safari in Tanzania’s northern circuit for safari this is a can not miss experience. I recommend a Hadzabe and Datoga Tribe visit for anyone, particularly families traveling with school aged children. The educational experience gained from a day with these local tribes is well worth the visit! Thank you Off the Beaten Path Safaris for such as awesome experience!