Tanzania Cultural Tourism Programme is a sustainable humanitarian-tourism initiative that engages local communities in various entrepreneurship activities and vocational training to help earn an income from tourism. Tanzanians are proud of receiving tourists in their rural areas where authentic culture can be celebrated and shared.
Cultural Tourism contributes to local community development by employing local people as tour guides, coordinators of cultural tourism enterprises, leaders of traditional dancing and storytelling, food service technicians, accommodations management (both home stays & camping). It also encourages the vocational training of artisans and provides for their income through the direct sale of hand-made crafts.
Tanzanians place a high value on their country’s multicultural heritage. Tanzania is the home of approximately 120 unique tribal groups. Many ethnic groups have been forced to move to urban centers to look for work, and in doing so have been forced to give up their traditional culture and livelihoods. Cultural Tourism provides another path for families that wish to preserve their cultural heritage and simultaneously advance their economic standing. Over the past few years, cultural tourism has become an increasing attraction for visitors from around the world and visits to tribal villages are often a highlight of Safari Packages.
The Masaai are perhaps the most well-known of Tanzania’s tribes. They inhabit the northern regions of the country. Pastoralists who fiercely guard their culture and traditions, Masaai tribal life revolves around protecting and caring for their herds of cattle and finding ample grazing lands. Masaai tribes live in circular enclosures called manyatas, where small mud huts surround central pens of cattle. Woven thorn bushes form a thick fence around the enclosure to protect the herds from attacks by lions and other predators. Because good grazing land fluctuates according to the seasons and yearly rains, Masaai settlements are temporary and easily relocated to where grazing and water access is best. Tribal tradition separates men and women into different age groups: the young boys herd sheep and goats while the young adult men serve as warriors (called morans) who protect and care for their family’s cattle. Male elders hold a position of respect in Masaai society and once a warrior becomes an elder, he may marry to begin a family of his own. Women oversee domestic duties and child caring throughout their lives. Empowering and educating Masaai woman is a major goal of several humanitarian initiatives across the country.
The ‘Spice Islands’ of the Zanzibar Archipelago, Pemba, Mafia, and the entire Tanzanian coast is home to the Swahili people, a vibrant mix of Arab, Indian and Bantu origins who historically based their livelihoods around Indian Ocean trade. The Swahili Coast, as the region is called, is a predominantly Islamic region with old mosques and coral palaces found throughout the area. Swahili culture centres around the dhow, a wooden sailing boat powered by the seasonal wind. Historically, the boats connected the Swahili Coast with Arabia and India and allowed trade between the regions to flourish. Fishing remains a mainstay of coastal income in small villages throughout the area, and coconut and spice plantations continue to form an important source of revenue. These days, life on the Swahili coast is tranquil and slow-paced. Women cloaked in long robes called bui bui walk through meandering streets to the local market, stopping to chat outside tall houses hewn from coral and limestone rock. In the villages, the call to prayer rings out clearly over the palm trees and once they have finished their religious duties, the men gather in the square to drink spiced coffee from brass braziers. From the warrior moran of the fierce Masaai to the peaceful rhythms of Swahili town, Tanzania offers a unique glimpse into African life as it has remained for centuries.