The Maasai, originally from Kenya but also partly-based out of northern Tanzania, are an African ethnic group that’s existed for centuries and has a population of nearly 3 million.
When you’re on a safari, visiting a Maasai village is a must for your itinerary, and we’re here to tell you why you shouldn’t miss it.
Maasai in Tanzania – How’s the Experience?
At some point during your safari in Tanzania, you’ll have scheduled a Maasai village visit. They are located in the Conservation Area of Ngorongoro and the entire village is nomadic, moving around as they seek viable water sources.
As you research the Maasai tribes before your trip, you’ll notice many mentions of it being a “tourist trap,” and whether it’s really worth visiting a Maasai village.
The truth is that even though you can obviously tell that the villages have been set up to receive tourists (evident from the moment you pay the entrance fee), you’ll quickly start to learn about their unique culture, traditions, and lifestyle, despite the tourist-oriented experience. Nowadays, the Maasai in Tanzania mainly subside from these fees, so you’ll be helping a village survive while also experiencing and learning about something new and foreign.
When you enter the village, you’ll receive the whole tribe’s welcome: a competitive jumping dance accompanied by their songs and movements. Throughout the entire visit, one of the village members will be your guide and you will lead you through each part of the village, explaining their lifestyle and answering any questions you might have.
Did you know…
- The Maasai are polygamous, with men in tribes having several wives and needing to provide for all of them.
- The role of the men in Maasai tribes is to look for food, take care of the animals, and offer protection, while women take care of the children, food, the Maasai market, and even build houses.
- The houses they live in are tiny huts with 2 hard beds made of animal skin: one for the woman (and the husband when he’s visiting) and another for the kids. They keep a small bonfire on to keep the hut warm.
- Education is part of their everyday lifestyle as well. There’s a little preschool hut where toddlers spend their days, but older and teenagers actually attend school, albeit one that’s miles away and requires a long walk to reach.
- In the middle of their villages, the Maasai have markets with hand-made products they sell to tourists who come to visit.
- The Maasai remove 2 of their canine teeth in order to leave space to be fed in case they get sick and are unable to open their jaws.
- Their diet is mainly composed of eating meat, milk, and blood.
Maasai Villages – Things to Keep in Mind
Bring cash. The entrance to the Maasai village will vary depending on the village you visit, but it can cost between $10 and $20 (20,000 to 40,000 Tanzanian Shillings)
- Don’t be shy, you can take pictures!
- Don’t worry about a language barrier; within the tribe, they will have a translator that will help you communicate and will explain everything you need to know.
- If you want to buy things from their market, don’t forget to bargain! Prices are inflated, as they actually expect you to negotiate. (That being said, outside of market purchases, feel free to donate any additional funds as you see fit!)
- Remember to always show respect, even if their culture or beliefs are completely different from yours. Keep an open mind and enjoy your visit!