Tanzania Culture Safaris are the latest fashion when taking a safari in Northern Tanzania. I think this type of adventure safari is a good thing for Tanzania although I must admit to having one or two misgivings. The people and culture of Tanzania are wonderful and to experience the adventure of Tanzania life is an inexpressible privilege.
A Tanzania cultural encounter of the third kind should be top of your list when planning an adventure safari to sunny Tanzania. There are, of course, many pseudo experiences on offer in Tanzania. An off-the-shelf cultural tour just won’t cut the mustard; you will quite simply be left feeling ripped off.
Every Tanzania town in high season has its groups of self conscious western tourists doing their best to fit into the surrounds, when in fact they so painful don’t belong. The white skins of the northern Europeans freshly reddened from the strong Tanzania sun. There they stand huddled into a group unsure of which way to go, what to do and looking thoroughly harassed by the local Tanzanian.
A good start to enjoying your cultural safari experience is to organise a visit into a Tanzania home. Try not to try too hard. Show respect; and don’t be afraid of the dreaded silence. Sometimes it is better to accept the silence and thereby allow everyone to settle into the stillness. We in the west feel a silence is a void that must be filled at all costs; in Tanzania there are no such hang-ups. In Tanzania a silence is better than taking too much. Do not fear the silence; the foolish person rushes in to make a noise where none is necessary.
The visit to a Tanzanian school when on safari cannot be rushed. Leave your watch at the hotel; the watch is an instrument of torment for a westerner in Tanzania. To share food, if offered is a must, to refuse is a slur to your Tanzania host. Once you have eaten don’t hang around for too long. Your host in Tanzania will normally wait for you to say you are leaving. It is not rude to leave as soon as you have eaten. Many times the finishing of a meal in Tanzania can signal the polite end to the visit.
Once you have shared a meal your found friends in Tanzania will now be able to show you places you would not normally get to see. You now have a personal guide who knows Tanzania and the language, who is not trying to sell you curious or a safari you don’t want. Suddenly you are not a tourist - you are on your way to becoming Tanzanian.
The next stage is to progress from the home visit is short term voluntary work. These may last from a day or two to a few weeks, Tanzania hospitals, schools or building projects are the norm. The experience is life changing – for everyone. Remember, however poor you might think you are, by Tanzania standards you are not. Do not resent your Tanzania guests if they seem preoccupied with what you consider to be your money. Accept it, deal with it, and don’t make into an issue of discontent.
These Cultural trips in Tanzania can end in tears if not handled properly. I have witnessed, very occasionally, people struggling with Tanzania customs, living conditions, food and especially the lack of water. Plan your visit and look for an organisation, or tour operator that is able to place you in a Tanzanian community and situation that you will feel most comfortable. Do not try to become a hard core mission worker in one afternoon.
The people of Tanzania are truly friendly and love to welcome guests into their homes. The experience is indeed remarkable for individuals or couples. The secret is to relax and be prepared for a few surprises and don’t be afraid to laugh with your hosts. You will return home a better person for your experience. Be warned, that once you begin to enjoy Tanzania you will return again and again.
For more information on these issues or any relating to Tanzania see http://www.thejumapage.co.uk and http://www.betheladventure.co.uk tourism can change lives.