If you have ever been to Tanzania or Kenya on your travels, you’ll be aware of the Maasai Tribe. The Maasai are a tribe of people who live in the wilderness parts of Tanzania and Kenya (and also in the cities)and many live in mud and straw huts in the countryside.
We were able to visit a Maasai Tribe at a village known as Rabatt.
Our driver, Timo (an animal and Tanzania culture expert) drove us to Rabatt, which is somewhere between Lake Manyara National Park and Arusha. It’s off to the right hand side of the road as you’re heading to Arusha, and while the village/settlement is known as Rabatt, the village can move, which largely depends on the grass and ground quality so the Maasai tribe’s cattle can graze. If you’re on a safari in Tanzania or Kenya, ask your driver if you can visit a Maasai Village.
A Massai Village is a territorial village consisting of Maasai Tribe members. They live their entire lives within the village and nearby area, they are self sufficient. They have everything they need. They are a community. The Maasai people have their own routines, dances, lifestyle and even their own flag.
It’s easy to visit a village. If you’re on a Safari Tour then just ask your driver to include a visit to a Maasai Village as part of your itinerary, if it’s not included already. Not all Maasai Villages welcome visitors, but don’t worry – your guide will know. Some also allow you to stay over for a really authentic experience. One of the lodges we stayed at (Osupuko) had a load of Maasai Tribe members to not only welcome us into their home but dance for us as well.
Above, is the flag of the Maasai people.
Depending on the education level of the leader of the village, he may or may not speak fluent or decent English. The leader of Rabatt introduced himself as Maracas and his English was fairly good.
The leader of Rabatt, Maracas, came out to greet us. This Maasai Village must be a common one for tourists to visit as a few members also spoke some English, but don’t expect them to speak English. Here are the four parts to our visit, yours may vary, of course:
1. The Welcome Song
The welcome song is an essential part of your visit. On arrival the leader will ask you to watch a traditional song and dance. You will be invited to join in. Everyone wears traditional Maasai clothes. Join in with them, you’re made to feel welcome. The ladies dance with flapping circles round their necks and the guys hold sticks and jump high.
At the welcome song and dance session – you can notice one guy jumping high showing his power.
2. The Tour
You will be given a brief tour of the village where they show you their culture and explain the nuances. There will be cattle field in the middle and you’ll be surrounded by huts and in this world, you’ll be introduced to Maasai Culture. Remember that men have lots of wives and it is the job of the first wife to find the man his second wife. The women build the huts while the men look after the cattle and hunt.
The Maasai leader showed us where they keep their cattle.
3. Inside a Maasai Hut
Get your insect spray ready to go – the flies are incestuous and beyond. Remember that the Masaai huts are made from a mixture of mud and cow shit and in the midst of it all, sticks maintain the structure.
For light and cooking, fires are lit inside the huts to keep things going and the beds on mud have sheets on them for comfort.
4. The Souvenir Shop!
Yup, many of them have one. It may not be much more than a piece of rug or carpet on the ground with homemade handicrafts on them but they have one. You can pay in either US Dollars or Tanzanian Shillings.
One of the Maasai kids plays on the mat that doubles up as a souvenir shop.
The leader of the tribe outside one of the huts.
Top photo credit: studyabroad.