by Anja du Plessis
Africa has long captivated the world’s imagination. A continent filled with natural beauty, and the birthplace of man, it’s a place unlike any other offering a plethora of experiences, cultures, and traditions to behold and enjoy. Africa’s rich history and culture are so diverse that it varies not only from one country to another but also within regions and countries.
Each culture has its own traditions, traditional attire, dances, food, greetings, and celebrations.
When travelers embark on a safari, they can of course expect to enjoy beautiful lodges set within the pristine wilderness and awe-inspiring wildlife. But there is more to explore by connecting with local African cultures and traditions. From learning about local conservation to participating in local communities, the rich history and heritage of Africa is waiting to be discovered, and enjoyed, deepening a visitor’s love and connection to the continent.
Here is our hand-picked list of must-experience cultural safari destinations.
The Maasai Warrior School showcases the cultural and work skills expected of a true Maasai warrior. Travelers will learn the art of spear throwing, bow and arrow shooting, Maasai jumping, dancing and singing, and stone-throwing. Join the Maasai team and bring out your own inner Maasai Warrior. For younger children, the Maasai Warrior School includes fire making, spear throwing, bow, and arrow practice, Maasai jumping, dancing and singing, and tracking.
Looking for a more relaxed, conversational experience, then we invite you to sit down and learn the roles and responsibilities of the Maasai community through their various age groups with the locals who are ready to share their culture and traditions with you.
The Chem Chem lodge where your cultural horizons will definitely be expanded through the special meeting of Chief Choroko and some of his wives. This visit offers a rare glimpse into the lifestyle of this Barabraig tribe. A vivid and informative encounter for any visitor. For an up close and personal encounter of the wildlife with your trusty guide follow in their footsteps and learn to track wildlife on foot, the ancient way. Children will learn how to build a recyclable soccer ball, follow wildlife tracks, and learn how to make a fire using only elements from the bush with their local guide showing them the ins and outs every step of the way. Guests can also visit a local school supported by the Chem Chem Association and teach a class- learn from the children as they learn from you.
Gibb’s Farm has a deep and meaningful connection to the diverse communities and cultures of East Africa and offers different opportunities to get to know the community, and the rich culture of Tanzania’s diverse tribal community. Take a two-hour guided walk around the neighboring village of Tloma. This provides a personal look at everyday Tanzanian village life. This immersive guided outing to Tloma, will give guests the opportunity to meet a local family and learn about their culture and traditional ways of life. Discover the age-old process of making pots, try your hand at pounding grain, and taste the local brew. You will discover the true essence and traditions of rural East African villages and the daily goings-on of how people live in harmony with nature. Through Gibb’s Farm Artists-in-Residence Programme, East African artists stay at the farm and create commissioned artwork. Meet some of East Africa’s most talented artists, learn about their influences and inspiration, and watch them create pieces from a blank canvas or piece of wood (available for purchase).
An authentic glimpse into the distinctive Maasai culture is a must whilst in Tanzania. Preservation of their proud traditions has set the Maasai apart from other indigenous groups in Tanzania and embodies a side of Africa with which few outsiders can contact. Guests are offered memorable opportunities to interactively experience the Maasai way of life through an excursion to a traditional boma, where they will be able to participate in a variety of unique cultural activities and be encouraged to delve as deeply into the experience as possible!
Tortilis employs around 60% of its staff from the local community, training them from scratch to become professional guides, barmen and waiters. With each employed individual in Kenya supporting an average of 8 dependents, their 40 local staff members potentially support between 300 and 400 members of the community. Walking safaris with local Maasai guides are encouraged at Tortilis so that guests have the opportunity to find out, firsthand, about the intricacies of Maasai culture, stimulating pride and desire among the community to preserve their tradition.
Visit one of our neighboring villages to gain an insight into the fascinating culture of the local people and how they live in harmony with their environment. An engaging and insightful visit to one of the local villages show how the Samburu people live in harmony with a harsh environment. Market day provides an opportunity to connect and enjoy the sights and sounds of the local people connecting and trading. Sasaab’s commitment and positive involvement with the Westgate Samburu community allows involvement in a multitude of health and education initiatives, some of which are open to visits. Many of the staff also hail from the Samburu people and are eager and proud to share more of their culture.
You will never realize how different Maasai life is from your own until you visit a Maasai village. As the village lies outside the National Reserve an hour from camp, your game drive is en-route to the village. Bring cash as the ladies display all sorts of crafts for sale, including colorful ethnic beadwork, a perfect memento of time spent in Kenya and African cultures and traditions guests experienced.
Visit Mto wa mbu town which lies at the entrance of Lake Manyara National Park – guests can engage in traditional dance performances which involve the Maasai warriors jumping up and down in rhythm to the traditional songs being chanted. These performances are very lively and tourists can also join in on the fun and dance with the Maasai warriors. This cross-cultural melting pot is home to approximately 120 tribes. A bustling, thriving village, it is fascinating to hear the colorful blend of languages and witness first-hand the unique customs. Cultural diversity is seen in the various entrepreneurial ways including a farmer from Kigoma producing palm oil from palm trees that he purchased from the shores of Lake Tanganyika, and the Rangi creating colorful, beautiful mats and baskets using papyrus from the lakes and rivers.
Zuri Zanzibar offers tours of Stone Town, where guests will discover the rich heritage of this ultimate fusion of Arabic and African cultures and traditions. What better way to deepen your guests’ knowledge and understanding and appreciation than by combining the tour with a cooking class? See how to use many different kinds of local products in the preparation of a selection of classic Zanzibari dishes using Swahili cooking techniques.
If you are interested in a safari while experiencing one of the African cultures and traditions with Ker & Downey® Africa, get in touch with our travel experts who will include one of these in the perfect safari itinerary just for you.
See you out there!