Tanzania Asilia: Cultural Discovery and the Big 5
An all inclusive grassroots journey that has been designed exclusively for Gaia Conscious Travel for an in depth Experience.
Group SizeMin 2
Uniquely designed for Gaia Conscious Travel, this fully inclusive package will REALLY take you off the beaten track to experience unique connections and understanding of the most fascinating Tanzanian cultures.
Instead of visiting the same villages that other operators visit, where the contact with the local communities is often biased and superficial, this operator will take you off the beaten track, to meet their own community partners. A refreshing and awakening Experience, where you will spend time and share knowledge with the Maasai and the Hadzabe cultural groups.
You will live in these communities for 2 days and take part in daily chores and leisure activities, a tour of a traditional home and educational “bush” seminars with practical workshops and discussion groups. Another day will bring you closer to the Babati community, where you will visit a local family for lunch and share local activities alongside the lake.
But this trip will also allow you to enjoy many days of game driving in the most spectacular Tanzanian wildlife parks, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, as well as Tarangire, which is the surprise Northern add-on to this package. Off the main safari route, tarangire is quiet and lovely, most famous for its elephant migrations, birding and authentic safari feel.
Both directors (Tanzanian and British born) share between them more than 20 years’ experience working with indigenous peoples in Tanzania, 10 of which were in the not-for profit sector. Our company was born out of a desire to educate travelers in an authentic, un-staged, community lead way about indigenous people in Tanzania, their cultures, way of life and their struggles through cultural ecotourism.
Our overall attitude to tourism in focused on personal growth and discovery (for visitors but also for the communities we connect with during our travels) and the intrinsic value of indigenous knowledge and wisdom; seeing the world through another’s perspective (taking a walk in each other’s shoes) but with minimal impact (both environmental and social) so all you leave behind are footprints in the earth.
We are passionate about supporting indigenous peoples preserve their indigenous knowledge and cultural identities for future generations but also about promoting community- lead sustainable development. We are equally passionate about educating travelers through intimate and authentic exchanges that allow for a genuine, human interaction and knowledge sharing. We believe cultural tourism can be an important means to achieve this goal.
Our company’s policies are based on a foundation of personal and academic research into the impact of ecotourism on indigenous peoples so we are well aware of the potential pitfalls as well as benefits and this is something which informs all of our product development.
We are also environmentally conscious individuals, who are actively engaged in reducing our footprint and impact, not just for the company but at home, whether through investment in state of the art water filters in order to cut down on plastic bottle use; buying locally wherever possible; or simply encouraging travelers to get out of the car and take-part in walking safaris or spend a few days with a local community doing a walking based cultural program.
A central part of our company ethos is profit sharing with the communities we work with.
An average 10% of the net profit from our programs goes towards community projects aimed at tackling issues highlighted by the communities as important. We also encourage projects which utilise indigenous knowledge and skills and environmentally based projects such as forest management.
Giving Tanzanians job opportunities is a priority for us, therefore all of our employees are local Tanzanians. Our company is nothing without the people we work with and employ. In recognition of this fact many of our employees are on full-contracts and paid on a salary basis (instead of per day) to ensure job security, with social security benefits and emergency air rescue insurance on top as a minimum. We also offer additional training in various areas including first aid, English “top-ups” to name a couple and opportunities for career growth.
We are continually looking for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint and impact. So far we have implemented the use of state of the art water filters to reduce our plastic bottle consumption (so water is filtered directly from sources in the bush, however it is not yet possible for us to rely 100% on filtered water alone). Also many of our packages include community programs which are almost exclusively done on foot so reducing our carbon foot print. We also support a forest management project in one of the communities we work with. Roughly 80% of our equipment is locally produced and we endeavour to buy locally wherever possible. Whilst in the bush we have strict “leave no trace” policies. All of our camps are currently 100% mobile, meaning that in between groups camp sites have a chance to recover. We currently depend on a mixture of sustainable charcoal, gas and locally collected dead/sustainable sources of wood.
Our long term environmental goals include switching to sustainable fuel sources for our vehicles and switching to sustainable power sources in the office. Our mid-term goals include switching to 90% sustainable/renewable fuel sources in our camps.
How we work with communities
All of the communities we visit we have long standing relationships with from the days we worked in the not for profit sector. We have solid friendships with many members of the community. During our programs a local guide is always present. This means that each community has control over how they are represented and what information is shared. Many of the local guides speak fluent English but all speak Swahili (the main African language spoken in Tanzania). Guides are usually rotated allowing more families to benefit.
How guests are prepared
All guests receive a pre-departure info pack containing general information about Tanzania, it’s history, climate and environment, cultural awareness and Swahili language guide. On arriving in Tanzania guests receive an orientation that goes into more detail about the specific communities that might be visited as well as the “dominant” Swahili culture, cultural norms, what behaviour is and isn’t appropriate in each setting and what to expect in general. They also receive “refresher” orientations during the trip just before entering into each community.
Guests are encouraged to learn the traditional greetings of each community visited (as well as in Swahili!) which are also provided during orientation.
The people we work with on this tour
For each tour there is a field crew consisting of a driver guide, camp chef, camp hand and a community facilitator/lead guide who is there to support guests as well as the local guides. Our tours are nothing without the people we work with. In recognition of this fact our employees are fairly paid (above the government minimum for the industry) as are the local guides. Community payments include a community conservation fee (paid to the local village governments), individual payments for local participants in activities, as well as a donation (usually to a community womens’ group or other NGO) in addition to the voluntary contributions to UCRT on the Gaia website.
Where possible we try to use hand-picked hotels and lodges which have a good reputation among lodge workers, engage in corporate social responsibility.
How the tour creates additional employment and income for 3rd parties
There is also the opportunity for guests to purchase traditional jewellery and other items directly from artists and craftsmen from the communities visited. We also make use of locally run hotels and lodges.
How we create social awareness through our tours
An important part of our ethos and programs is raising international awareness of the social and environmental issues of indigenous and tribal people in Tanzania. We achieve this through open and honest dialogue with community members via discussion groups and question-answer sessions as well as mini “seminars”. We try to give as broad and in-depth over view of the circumstances of each community as possible within the given time constraints.
How we reduce our footprint on your tour
Guests spend as much time on foot as possible. Our itineraries are planned to provide ample time between destinations to avoid rushing around, thus using less fuel. Much of our equipment is locally produced reducing the carbon footprint created by importing goods. The same goes for food used in our camps. We filter our own water wherever practical (not all water sources are fit for filtering –e.g. high salt content) instead of relying exclusively on bottled water. We also make use of renewable or responsibly sourced fuel for cooking whenever we can.
All our guests are briefed on how to keep their environmental impact to a minimum from encouraging the use of biodegradable toiletries to how to dispose of trash appropriately.
Mission of Parks visited
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is an “experiment” in the co-habitation of people and wildlife whereby Maasai people are able to live their traditional lifestyle alongside native wildlife but other forms of human activity (farming/hunting etc) are prohibited. In the National Parks no human activity is allowed other than around camps. All of the parks and conservation areas visited have strict leave no trace policies and policies regarding the removal of flora and fauna. We apply the same principles in the natural areas of the communities we visit.
How your tour contributes to conservation and environmental awareness
As part of your time in Tanzania guests have the opportunity to take part in forest management activities in a local Maasai village. This project is taken up directly with the village as a means to encourage the protection of their natural forests and discourage deforestation for the production of charcoal. Just by taking part in a community based program you are generating alternative sources of income giving people more opportunities so they are less reliant on environmentally destructive means of generating income such as charcoal production.
Slowing down and letting go
Western culture causes us to be constantly clock watching. Life in Tanzania, however, happens at a different pace. Outside of major urban areas peoples relationship to time is very different; slower, relaxed. During community visits guests will be encouraged to embrace this new relationship with time instead of expecting a tight schedule to be followed. People often experience a great sense of relief and liberation when they simply allow themselves to go with the flow!
Reconnecting with yourself and your environment
Since everything is taken care of from transport to food to accommodation guests will have very little to think about and can focus entirely on what is going on around them and themselves. Meals prepared in camp are well balanced (with a few treats!) and make the most of good quality local produce including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
On the whole this experience will be incredibly sensual, with new and exotic smells, sights and sounds. Tanzania is without doubt one of the most beautiful, diverse, exciting but also humbling places to visit on Earth. It will certainly take your breath away!
Being able to connect with local people is an integral part of this trip. Not only will guests learn a lot about these indigenous communities they will also have the chance to engage with them, ask questions and reflect on their experiences without judgement. Some of the experiences guests will have, from camping in the bush, surrounded by wildlife, to witnessing traditional ceremonies or taking part in traditional daily chores/activities and the conversations they will take part in, may be very challenging for some but in the end visitors finish their trip with new insights and an altered world view that will have a profound and lasting impact on their life.
Ujamaa Community Resource Team - UCRT
We will give you the option to donate to this project on your final invoice.
The savannahs and grasslands of Northern Tanzania are one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. Our human origins lie in these landscapes, and today the region is home to huge populations of large mammals that have disappeared from most other parts of Africa and the world at large. The region is a crossroads of different cultures and ethnic groups with ancient heritages.
All of these groups of people depend on the lands and natural resources that they have utilized for centuries and for some, many thousands of years: in turn these landscapes have shaped their cultures and ways of life. Conservation is a fundamental aspect of their daily lives and key for their prosperity, which is why economic development and natural resource management are inseparable to these people. The last 120 years have been challenging for most rural communities in Tanzania, as both pre- and post-independence governments have shifted control over lands and resources from local to national control. Sadly, much-needed incentives for sustainable use and management have been eroded by this loss of local rights and control.
In the 1980's, a tourism company called Dorobo Tours, headed by three Tanzanian-born American brothers - Daudi, Thad and Mike Peterson - was becoming increasingly concerned by the spread of unsustainable agriculture, a large increase in charcoal burning and loss of wildlife habitat throughout the region. In response, Dorobo Tours initiated the first tourism agreements with several villages in Ngorongoro and Simanjiro Districts. These agreements provided communities contractual income from tourism in exchange for their setting aside and managing areas of village land for wildlife and wildlife-compatible uses.
Please donate to to UCRT / Dorobo Fund
UCRT is grateful for all donations, of all sizes, as they allow us to continue lifting marginalised people out of poverty while conserving our natural resources.
Sponsor a Student and give a child a future!
Without education poor pastoralist and hunter-gatherer communities will never be able to protect their rights, culture and natural resources. By sponsoring a child to secondary school you are helping to lift their entire family out of poverty.
Due to the extremely low pass rates at government run secondary schools in the districts we work, UCRT sponsors students to local private schools. While this makes the fees more costly we believe it is important to give a child a quality education if they are to have a chance at achieving their full potential.
Read a Community Based Tourism Case Study by UCTR here.
Day 1: Arrival
- You will be met at Kilimanjaro airport by your driver who will transfer you to your hotel (Karama Lodge/ Outpost Lodge) in Arusha.
Day 2-3: Maasai community-based program
- At 8:30 a.m. meet with your driver guide, Lauren or Chaca and/or the community facilitator for orientation.
- Depart for the village at 9:00 a.m, passing through town to collect “zawadi” (gifts) of tea and sugar for the village. Arrive at the village by 10:30 a.m.
- Introduction to community elders and local guide.
- The following 2 days include a mixture of activities such as taking part in daily chores and leisure activities, a tour of a traditional homestead, educational “bush” seminars with practical workshops and discussion groups and a community service option to give back to the community before you leave. This is an incredible opportunity to challenge your perceptions and open your eyes while not only experiencing but taking part in how Maasai people really live, the challenges they face and how their lives could be changed for the better in a community led, sustainable way. Whether sitting by a fire listening to an Mzee (elder) tell you traditional stories or helping a Maasai mama milk her cows you will leave this village with a new world view.
(the next two days are traveling days with activities which help break up the journey to the Hadza village is a good 8-9 hours from the Maasai village in total)
- Wake early and begin the first leg of your journey, stopping at Tarangire National Park for a game drive (approx. 2.5 hours)
- Arrive at Tarangire (approx.. 10:00 a.m.) for a day of game driving, stopping for an “on the bonnet” picnic lunch. Tarangire is well known for it’s high concentration of elephants which can be seen all year round. It is also wonderful for birding and has high numbers of primate species such as baboons and vervet monkeys.
- Spend the night at Tarangire Safari Lodge.
- En-route game drive out of park and then depart for Lake Babati in Babati district. Babati was one of several districts ear-marked for the development of “ujamaa” or socialist villages by the first president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere. Babati town itself, although not an Ujamaa village was and still is a major trade centre for agricultural crops in the region. It is a bustling, fast growing town in the shadow of Kwaraa Mountain, on the shores of Lake Babati, famous for its’ fish and hippos.
- Visit paddy fields, sunflower oil manufacturers and a traditional Swahili/Bantu family for lunch before retiring to the lake shore for canoeing, dinner and overnight.
Day 6-8: Hadzabe Community-based program
- After an early breakfast continue with your journey onward. This journey is most definitely off the beaten track where you are unlikely to see many cars or other tourists for the next few days.
- Journey from Babati to Mbulu district. Duration: approx. 5 hours.
- Stop for lunch break along the way.
- Arrive at Hadzabe village late afternoon.
- Introduction to village elders.
- The following 2 days include a mixture of activities such as taking part in daily chores and leisure activities, a tour of a traditional home and educational “bush” seminars with practical workshops and discussion groups. This is the second community you will visit on your trip and represents a vastly different lifestyle but no less eye-opening. The Hadzabe are a unique people in Tanzania and are one of the last remaining hunter – gather groups in East Africa. A truly egalitarian society they represent a way of viewing and connecting with the world that has been lost to many during the “new age” since industrialisation. Whether listening to a Hadzabe man play a traditional instrument or walking with the mamas as they collect wild fruits you will leave this unspoilt area of true wilderness with a fundamentally changed perspective on life.
- Transfer to Karatu, passing by Lake Eyasi and stopping briefly for a visit to the Barabaig blacksmiths and lunch. The Barabaig are a pastoralist group who share many similarities with the Maasai but who are also uniquely different.
- Arrive at Olea Africana lodge in Karatu for dinner and a hot shower!
- After an early breakfast head to the Serengeti via Ngorongoro Conservation Area, stopping for majestic views of the crater before continuing the journey on towards Serengeti.
- Make a brief stop at Oldupai Gorge to view and take part in a short lecture about this fascinating archaeological site.
- Stop for lunch at the Serengeti gate before continuing with an en route game drive to the lodge.
- Arrive at Kati Kati tented lodge for dinner and overnight.
- After breakfast begin your full day game drive.
- Stop for either a picnic OR “on-the bonnet” lunch, depending on where the animals are – we’ll leave this up to the driver to decide unless you would prefer lunch at a park picnic site, please let him know.
- Continue with game drive.
- Return to camp.
- After breakfast enjoy your second full day of game driving in the Serengeti with lunch box.
- Wake early for breakfast and begin en route game drive back towards Ngorongoro Conservation area.
- Continue on to the crater, heading down for a full game drive of the area stopping for a picnic lunch at one of the crater’s small lakes.
- Head out of the conservation area back to Karatu for a night at Gibbs Farm Lodge.
Day 14: Departure
Depending on your flight time, spend the morning enjoying the grounds at Gibbs Farm lodge, learning about its’ history as an old colonial farm and then “game lodge”, take a tour of the lodges coffee plantation and vegetable garden or book a massage (not included in overall price). After a hearty lunch depart for Arusha and then Kilimanjaro for your flight home.
- All park fees and camp fees
- B2B Mobile Fly-camping & Permanent Tented Camp / Lodge accommodation
- 3 meals a day on F/B as stipulated
- Bottled drinking water; x1.5 liters a day per person
- 4×4 vehicle plus driver guide, safari chef and camp assistant
- AMREF Emergency Evacuation Cover x 14 days
- All transfers and activities as stipulated
- Tips (suggested amounts, see Guidelines for tipping on Travel Info tab)
- Drinks apart from 1,5 liter mineral water per day
- Visa and airport departure tax
- Items of personal nature and not mentioned in the above itinerary
- International flights and internal flights
- Medical/travel insurance (must be obtained by client as a condition of booking)
- Activities at Gibbs Farm Lodge and on the beach in Pangani (booked through lodge on arrival)
- Alcoholic beverages or soft drinks
Accommodation and meals
This is a fully inclusive Experience.
Vehicle and Camp Set-Up
Our fleet of 4 x 4 safari vehicles is made up of well maintained Land-Rover TDI’s and Toyota Land-Cruisers, specially adapted for use on safari. Both types of vehicles have proven themselves worthy on the unpredictable Tanzanian roads (and often, what passes for roads) and offer un-obstructed views for all passengers.
Our safari vehicles come in different sizes; the standard Land-Rover and Land-Cruisers offer comfortable space to up to 5 people and our extended Land-Cruisers seat up to 7. Because of these maximum numbers per vehicle, every single occupant is assured of his or her own window-seat, easy access to the opened roof for game viewing and ample leg-room during the drives to and from.
Because realistically, on the gravel and bush-roads you’ll encounter on safari punctures happen, and from time to time mechanical problems occur, all vehicles are equipped with spare tires and all the tools needed to get you back on track in the shortest possible time.
Besides being experienced drivers, our driver/guides are trained to perform small repairs and in the rare case that outside help is needed, we’ll send a replacement vehicle straight away so your safari can continue without any problems.
All vehicles are fitted for safari with:
- a full-size pop-up roof, or game viewing hatches with shade-cloth,
- VHF-radio call for communication in the parks,
- 2 x 220 Volt A/C outlets (UK, 3-pin type) to charge your equipment whilst on the move,
- 2 spare tires, a bottle-jack and hi-lift (or Simba)-jack,
- emergency tool kit, tow-rope and jump-leads,
- a (removable) fridge, and
- first aid kit.
Our spacious tents can comfortably fit 2 people with room to stand up or 3 people snugly. Tents are typically a mixture of apex roofed canvas (pictured) or polyester domed tents. Each has their own positive aspects.
Both styles of tent come with thick (8cm) foam mattresses, blankets and sheets (no wriggling around in sleeping bags!) and pillows.
The classic safari style canvas tents have built in mosquito meshing on the doors (front and back) so you can zip your tent up but still have good ventilation and there is also an additional flap that can be pulled across for added privacy. At the front there is a sheltered "veranda" for keeping footwear outside.
For small groups (4-6 or less) the mobile canvased shower and toilet cubicles can be connected to your tent as an ensuite. Alternatively they can be set at a distance from your tent.
Our polyester tents have ventilated roof openings with wind breakers covering the top. These are much more light-weight than our locally made canvas tents so we often include these for larger groups (10-15 ).
All non East African nationals require a visa to enter Tanzania. Please visit the Tanzanian embassy in your home country for information about the types and cost of Visas. Access to information about the types of visas/permits that are available varies from embassy to embassy across the world. If you are travelling for less than three months a standard tourist visa is all you will need. Again please leave enough time as the application process can sometimes take over a week. Alternatively, if flying directly to Tanzania a visa can be purchased at the airport on arrival – but be prepared to wait in line!
It is a condition of booking with Gaia Conscious Travel that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on travel, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit, which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for domestic travel.
Visitors to Tanzania are required by law to have had a yellow fever vaccination and bring with them a valid yellow fever certificate if they are travelling from or through a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission. Please refer to your own governments guidelines on travel to Tanzania.
Please visit your doctor for advice on which other vaccinations are required and remember some vaccinations need to be administered several weeks before travel so ensure you leave plenty of time.
Tanzania is in a malaria risk zone, so please use an appropriate prophylactic (preventative) malaria medication.
Read more about malaria here.
Unfortunately nearly all first-time visitors to East Africa come down with some sort of stomach ailment during their stay the severity of which can vary from a couple of bouts of diarrhoea to full-blown gastroenteritis. This is perfectly normal since your body is reacting to unfamiliar bacteria present in the environment. Your body will then build immunity to such bacteria much as it does in your home country. If it doesn’t clear up on its own (which it usually does in about 2 to 3 days) then local hospitals are very experienced at dealing with stomach bugs. We advise that you carry with you some anti-diarrhoea medication (Loperamide) and a few packets of re-hydration salts.
Tap water in Tanzania is of dubious quality and is not suitable for drinking or brushing teeth. Water from certain areas (particularly in the North) also has a very high fluoride content. Use bottled water (available even in remote areas) or pre-boiled/filtered water, even for brushing teeth, to avoid stomach complaints. Water provided by Nyayo will be a mixture of bottles and/or filtered water.
Experience not suitable for children under 3. Children under 18 should be accompanied by an adult.
Preparing for your Experience
Please note that unless otherwise stated all camping equipment, including tents, thick foam mattresses, pillows, blankets, sheets, portable camping toilet and shower, are provided as part of your tour
- Frameless backpack and cover (easier if camping although not essential)
- Day sack
- Luggage locks – These are not only a good way to ensure the security of your belongings during transit but are also an effective deterrent for pick-pockets when walking around town.
We advise people to try to pack light to help us cut down on weight during long journeys.
We also encourage you to choose environmentally friendly/biodegradable products wherever possible.
In your Pre-Departure travel notes, we will send you extensive information including a code of behaviour, packing list, country information, as well as a guide to the local Swahili language. It is customary and much appreciated for visitors to learn the basics of the language. It will make your Experience more enjoyable.
Temperatures in Tanzania can vary tremendously depending on time of day or night and the season. Therefore it is useful to prepare yourself for hot, cold and wet weather. It is better to pack lots of light-weight clothing that can be layered instead of bringing lots of bulky clothes.
Budgeting for your Experience
The main currency of Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling (often abbreviated to Tzs or Tsh). Although U.S Dollars are also accepted in many hotels and are the only accepted form of payment at National Parks for foreign visitors on a tourist visa Shillings are the main form of currency for buying goods from markets, local shops, restaurants and bars. Shillings can be obtained from ATMs, which are available in most major towns and cities or can be exchanged at the numerous bureaux de changes in Arusha. Please bear in mind that if you plan to bring U.S. $ from home then bills of series 2003 or less are not accepted. Many of the more upmarket hotels and lodges will accept cards directly. We recommend you purchase a money belt to keep your cash on you.
Tipping is the norm in Tanzania for crew members. We recommend $10 per group, per day for each member of the team (only days they work on your safari). The field team is made up of at least a driver guide but may also include a local guide and cook if camping. For groups over two we operate a tipping kitty that you can start before your tour commences. The tipping kitty enables your group to pool its money and decide at the end of the tour if you would like to contribute extra to each member of your field team. You may decide that one member of your team has provided particularly good service for example so you may decide to give over the recommended minimum to this person.
There are no extra accommodation options for this Experience. Please contact us for accommodation options before and after your trip
There are no optional activities features for this Experience. Please contact us if you would like us to enquire further
|Departure Dates||Status||Price (PP Sharing) Excluding Flights||Single Supplement||Child||Notes|
(to be confirmed)
if season is high, prices will vary