If we are to truly begin at the beginning, Olduvai Gorge located between the Ngorongoro highlands & Serengeti plains is the epicentre for the understanding of early human evolution. Also known as the cradle of mankind, there is a collection of small bungalows housing the findings and history of the discovery by Mary Leakey of early hominid skulls and footprints.
Tanzanian researchers lecture outside in a shaded theatre with views of the gorge and the cross section of rock where fossils were first found in 1911 highlighting the significance of the site and prompting the post war arrival of Archaeologists Louis & Mary Leakey in 1931. It’s a bumpy enough ride to Olduvai by Cessna & 4by4 so imaging the journey in the early 20th century? I challenge anybody to not be dumbstruck by this depiction of physical & social human evolution.
The mainland is home to the semi-nomadic Massai Tribes, where the men leave for months on end to hunt for meat whilst the women and children stay within the fenced villages & Bomas (mud huts) caring for the livestock and protecting them from predators. In the quieter northern plains of Tanzania you may find yourself the only visitor in weeks to a village and be received with singing, dancing and a shyness that is soon overcome as you interact with the children and flash your winning smile transcending any language barriers. We can’t stress enough the importance of exploring Safari’s outside the Serengeti & Masai Mara as every tourist improves the lives of those living within the area they visit and the vast concentration of guests to the most publicised regions leaves other areas less enriched with trade and support from the industry.
In Zanzibar, farmers have long been offering spice tours where you can learn about the production of the Islands spices such as cloves, cinnamon & cardamom. Tours end with the opportunity to buy direct from the farmers. Villagers on the coast have been encouraged and trained to show their surroundings & traditions through projects such as those set up by the Raguz family ( owners of Breezes, Baraza & The Palms ). Many of the lodge’s encourage guests to take a walk into the local village and call by the school to teach or assist for a morning and connect with the local people. As football plays a huge part in everyday life for the men & boys on the island, tourists are often brought into the beach games in the late afternoon and friendships are formed over a shared passion for the game.
Cultural tourism is a pro-poor/ community based form of tourism initiative in Tanzania that gives a chance to local people to organize excursions/tours in their present natural environment where the real culture of the people is explored by tourists. Cultural Tourism has shown good potential for directly contributing to poverty reduction through direct tour fees, jobs/salaries for local people, markets for local product (foodstuffs, handcrafts), exposure to knowledge and increase in confidence to local people to do little-known things.
By the people, for the people.