Tanzania Cultural Tours

Cultural Tours

Though tourism is a high income earner for Tanzania, its benefits don't always reach the local people. Half of the population lives below the poverty line. While stunning wildlife and dramatic landscapes may delight visitors, it is the friendliness and good hospitality of the people that ultimately seals their memories. Tanzania, unlike its neighbors is home to over 120 tribes and ethnic groups, peacefully coexisting and retaining a unified national identity.

There are many ways of interacting with the locals, learn and appreciate their ways of life and at the same time by your very visit make a small contribution to their living standard. Cultural Tourism Programmers’ set up and run by the villagers themselves can be found in many parts of the country. The village remains functional as it is while village appointed guides show you around their small subsistence farms, cottage industries many of which are run by women, schools, clinics and other projects. Be delighted in hearing the myths and legends unique to each tribe. Some villages have their own medicine men who have learnt the passed down art of using herbs and plants for natural healing.

Depending on the village visited and the time you are there, there would be opportunities for bird watching, hikes on small hills or to waterfalls, coffee making, witnessing the colorful  local market auctions, cooking and much more.  For those villages with older cultural tourism programmes, visitors can see the positive outcome of new tourism revenue in the form of new classrooms, irrigation projects etc.

Many visitors choose to spend a day on a chosen cultural tourism programme either before or after their safari and or trek. However, for those wishing to spend more time overnight stays in tents or basic accommodation in the village, where possible, can also be arranged.

Tengeru Village

The People of Tengeru Village offer:

  • A glimpse into the Meru culture              
  • Canoe in the Lake Duluti   
  • Walking around Lake Duluti
  • Waterfall hiking                                          
  • Visit Mt Meru forest for hiking        
  • A visit to local farms managed & owned by the Patandi Women’s group
  • A taste of locally prepared coffee and learn about the bio-gas plant

The tours offered are in two categories:

  • Interact with the local people with their daily life
  • Visiting places of interest in the area.

Activities involving interaction with the local people:

  • Coffee farm tour                                          
  • Tree planting project tour
  • Visiting school                                
  • Visiting Tengeru market      

Hiking Tours, Places of interest

  • Walking around Lake Duluti
  • Canoe trip on Lake Duluti
  • Waterfalls hiking
  • Visit Mt Meru forest (hike)         

Marangu Cultural Tour

At the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro outside the entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park lies the beautiful town of Marangu. Here, locals have planned various walking tours through valleys and numerous waterfalls depicting mountain village life. Visitors can conveniently commence a half day, or full day walking tours. Come enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kilimanjaro in the background without bearing freezing cold temperatures.

Tours through Marangu offers panoramic sights ideal for photography. Mountain climbing enthusiasts will be delighted to visit the home and memorial of the late Yohano Lawro, a local who accompanied Dr. Hans Meyer on the first recorded climb of Kilimanjaro in 1889. Read the original log books of Mr. Lawro, who lived for an incredible 115 years! Documented evidence will awe visitors who will learn about the astounding feats of this person who guided treks up the mountain at the age of 70 years!

Walking tours through Marangu, offer equally breathtaking scenery as its sister city as it also offers walks through numerous waterfalls including the beautiful Kinukamori, Moongo and Mteshani Falls. One can also learn more about the Chaga culture by visiting a traditional Chaga house made of straw roofing.

You can walk through the Chief Mangi area where the first court and primary school of the northern region are still functioning. At Kilema Roman Catholic mission, you can see the first coffee tree planted in Tanzania by an Irish missionary 100 years ago. Kilimanjaro area is now one of the leading coffee producers in the country. Alight climb up Ngangu hill with it’s fantastic view is a pleasure. On clear days the snow of Kibo Peak is so close, the plains so wide and the Pare Mountains to grab.

All the sites can be visited, on foot, in one full day tour or can be spread over two days. From the Makundi Blacksmith area to Kilema transport can be organized to cover the distance. Depending on the visitors’ condition, a convenient waterfall will be visited. A custom made tour can be arranged to satisfy your preference if you wish to focus on certain aspects.

Development Project
Development fees from each tour will go towards the Village Education Project. This project strives to improve primary schools in the Kilimanjaro district. Through your tourism participation, you will help improve the quality of education in the Kilimanjaro area. The development fee is separate from the guide and co-ordination fee. Donations are welcome.

 The people of Ilkiding’a offer you:

  • A view into the culture of the Wa-arusha.
  • A warm welcome in a local household.
  • Visits to craftsmen and a traditional healer.
  • Traditional food prepared by our women.
  • A walk through the farms where people produce cash crops to supply Arusha.
  • A rest at impressive viewpoints overlooking Arusha town.
  • Hikes along narrow footpaths, crossing a canyon and climbing small hills

Ilkiding’a lies at 10 km north of Arusha town, a 30 minutes drive. From Arusha town, take the small road north at the Ilboru junction on the Nairobi – Moshi road. Follow the Ilboru Safari Lodge sign. At the pink Loning’o shop take right. Follow the main road, leaving the signboard of the Ekenywa secondary school on your left, follow the main road, at the primary school, on the left close to a blue painted church, a guide will be waiting for you. From here you go to the boma of the Sembeo family, half an hour’s walking or 10 minutes driving. From this traditional household the tour starts.

Half day tour.
In this tour you start at Sembeo’s household where several traditionally built, round houses give you an idea of how an extended family lives together. The view of the Ngarenaro valley and Leleto hill is beautiful and the presence of the Mount Meru makes it unique. Sembeo will show you how knives are made and will explain how he runs his business. From here you walk through a small coffee plantation and enter the open fields where potatoes, cabbages, maize, beans and other crops are cultivated. In Ilkisongo you will enjoy the view overlooking Arusha town. Afterwards you walk down to the house of the traditional healer. He is ready to answer all your questions and will give advice if needed. From there you head on to visit a craftsmen group. Small wooden stools, jewellery, knives and traditional clothing are made by the members. If you have had enough walking you can be picked up by car or you can carry on to the canyon of Njeche. Scrambling into the canyon is an adventure. Abundant plants cover caves and rocky walls.

Full day tour
From the same starting point you go down to the Ngarenaro river, cross it and start climbing Leleto hill. From here you have a view on the Maasai steppe and its volcanoes. Then you walk through the fields in the direction of the forest reserve of Mount Meru National Park. You have a rest at Ilkisongo viewpoint. From here you go back to Sembeo’s household where the women’s group is waiting for you with a traditional meal. Maize, milk and red beans are the basic ingredients of the dishes. You walk down to visit the traditional healer, the craftsmen group and the canyon. You visit the primary school where money generated from tourism as Development Fees is used to rehabilitate the school.

Mto wa Mbu – Manyara

Mto wa Mbu is situated on the way from Arusha to the National Parks in Northern Tanzania, just at the foot of the Rift Valley. Mto wa Mbu is the entry port to Lake Manyara National Park; the park with the tree-climbing lions and many birds named after the long drawn lake that is fed by the water flowing down from the escarpment of the Rift Valley. It also conveniently on the way to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti which makes it an ideal rest place for most safari travelers.

The area around Mto wa Mbu was rather dry and hardly populated till the early fifties, when the first steps were made to irrigate the area. Within a few years hundreds of acres of newly cultivable land were created. The news of the fertile lands spread rapidly through the country and from all remote corners people came to try their luck. Fruits and vegetables from all over Tanzania were introduced in the area. Within a few decades the dry and empty plains were turned into a green semi-urban centre.

The rapid population growth also turned Mto wa Mbu in a melting pot of cultures. Nowhere else in Tanzania have so many different tribes gathered in such a small area. Many people have still kept their traditions. The various traditional modes of production stand as an example of this cultural diversity. In the little town Chagga people are producing their banana beer, a farmer from Kigoma makes palm oil from palm trees that he brought from the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the Sandawe are making bow and arrow for hunting on smaller game and the Rangi are using the papyrus from the lakes and rivers for making the most beautiful mats and baskets. On the surrounding plains Maasai families live in traditional bomas and the warriors wander with their cattle looking for pasture and water.

The profit from your visit will be used to promote energy-saving stoves, so your visit helps to protect our environment.

Logindo cultural tour

Longido - Arusha Region TCTP

The tour to the extensive plains around Longido Mountains, 80 km north of Arusha, features an insight into the traditions of Maasai culture. The lush area is home to rare birds and mammals

The tour includes:
- A nature trail to spot birds
- A climb to the impressive Longido Mountain through a dense natural forest
- Walking safari through the Maasai plains an over the slopes of Longido mountain
- A visit to a traditional Maasai Village
- A tour of historical sites dating back to British colonial times

Tour options:

Half day tour
Longido is rich in birdlife. Some of the birds seen in this area are Starling Major, Red and Yellow Barbet, Masked Weaver, silver Bill and Secretary Bird. A bird walks through the Maasai plains starting from the town of Longido to the bomas of Ol Tepesi allow you to see birds as well as trees and plants used by the locals to make food and medicines. Later, visit a Maasai boma to see the Maasai lifestyle.

Full day tour
Add to the bird walk, a walking safari fromOlTepesi to Kimokouwa along a cattle trail. Gradually climb to an altitude of 1:600m to get panoramic views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru. Descend to Kimokouwa green ‘valley of wells’ and a nearby historic British grave. On Wednesdays, you can extend your stay by visiting the busting and colorful cattle market. Another popular activity for the people with enough time is a four days trekking trip - from Longido to the Big Rock and Kitumbaine, on to Lake Natron. Longido mountain climb.

TOURS to choose from:

Mto wa Mbu Farming Tour
Starting from the market, where you visit a Chagga family producing banana beer, you walk northwards passing many different farms. On your way you get extensive explanation about the various fruits and vegetables growing in the area. Mzee Filipo, a farmer from Kigoma, will show you his oilpress and tell you about the history of irrigation in the area. Your trip ends at a farm built by the Belgium Development Organization ACT, where you can visit their sunflower seeds production and make marvelous pictures of colourful flower fields with the rift valley as background.

Papyrus Lake Tour
This walk starts five kilometer north of Mto wa Mbu, where the Miwaleni waterfall that falls down from the rift valley has created a green oasis. Passing some little streams you walk in the direction of the Papyrus Lake, from where the Rangi people collect the materials for the mats and baskets they make. On your way you can see rice farming and visit Sandawe families who still make traditional bows and arrows for hunting. The walk can be extended with a climb to the waterfall at the rift valley.

Balaa Hill Tour
Starting from Mto wa Mbu you walk at the foot of the rift valley in northern direction. The farmers in this area mainly grow bananas (many different 30 varieties) and the big leaves provide a pleasant shade. On your way you can visit some farms and get explanation about the irrigation methods in the area. Finally, you can climb Balaa hill, "the hill of misfortune", in about twenty minutes and enjoy the beautiful view over the green oasis of Mto wa Mbu. On the top the guides will explain you why the hill got its mysterious name. The walk can be extended with a visit to the Njoro springs, one of the main water sources for the area and a nearby waterfall.

One day walk
People who like walking can combine the three half a day tours in a one day walk. Starting from the Mto wa Mbu market you go via the farm of ACT to the Papyrus lake. On your way back to Mto wa Mbu you walk along the foot of the rift valley, passing the Njoro springs and the Balaa hill.

Development Projects
In the eighties the ILO had a Flood control programme in Mto wa Mbu, that also assisted the district in improving the irrigation system. Various intakes and aqueducts ensure that the water flows to all farms in the area. At the border of the irrigated land there are however serious problems of salutation, created by volcanic activities in the past. In this area the Belgium organization ACT has in cooperation with the Monduli District Council built up a farm in order to try to use the land in a productive way and create employment for the local people. Among the crops that grow on the farm are many colourful flowers. The farm is also used as a centre from which ACT carries out its various community development activities. Nearby a dam has been built, where the Maasai cattle can drink water, even in the dry period. With support from ACT a Maasai women's group is producing energy saving stoves that use three times less firewood and therefore help to preserve the natural forests and reduce the workload of women. The profit from the tourism programme will be used for the promotion of these stoves and other development purposes in the area.

When you are in Mto wa Mbu, feel free to visit the Maasai women's group on Mondays and Wednesdays, when they produce the stoves. The women will proudly show you their production method.


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