Rift Safari
Traveling along the Rift valley: The Hadzabe

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Hadzabe arrows

Lake Eyasi is set at the foot of the Ngorongoro Highlands. Here live the Hadzabe people, the descendants of Tanzania's aboriginal hunter-gatherers who do not cultivate, who have no cattle and live of hunting and honey collection [practiced by men] and gathering of herbs, fruit, roots, berries and tubers
[
practiced by women].

For thousand years they have lived with virtually no modification of their original style of life and accounts of early European visitors portray the Hadzabe at the beginning of the 20th century as living in much the same way as they do today however in the last two or three centuries they
have been increasingly under pressure. The descent from Nilo-saharian Africa of the Masai people has caused conflicts and a decline of the population [the Hadzade did not have the notion that one could own animals and were hunting cattle as if it was wild game]; the missionaries have unsuccessfully pushed them to convert to Christianity; the british colonial government and later the independent one have tried to convert them into farmers, attempts which have by and large been failures; the present expansion into their land of the Iraqi farmers has dramatically reduced game. No doubt that nowadays these people are facing an uncertain future, a circumstance aggravated by the fact that the actual government tend to consider them lower status people and that they are unable to defend themselves on a legislative level.

Tourism is playing a double role: on one side monetary income help them to buy food since hunting and gathering now make up only half of what the average Hadzade consumes, on the other hand tourism has catapulted them into a new world they were not ready for, where the traditional barter system is being partially replaced by money but without an understanding of the intrinsic value of the latter which has led in some cases to an increase of the use of alcohol, a way not to feel hunger with potentially severe effects on the long run.

So this is a very delicate and controversial topic and we prefer to leave to your sensitivity the decision whether to go to visit them or not to go.
Despite only a small part of our travelers ask us to include Lake Eyasi in their safari those who do are reporting positive feed-back on the quality of their visit.

When going to Lake Eyasi we usually depart from Manyara or Ngorongoro depending on your specific itinerary. This is a 2 up to 3 hours driving. Within noon you will check in at the camp and then depart to pick up a local guide who will lead you to meet some members of the Datoga clan. The Datoga are blacksmith, cattle farmers and hunters. Men melt the iron to forge arrows tips which they sell to the Hadzabe and spheres which they use themselves for hunting while women tan leather in order to get garments. You will then proceed towards the lake and enjoy the beautiful dramatic scenery at sunset. Before dark you will get back to your camp. There are only two facilities in this area: Kisima Ngeda Tented Lodge without doubt the best accommodation available at Lake Eyasi and the more modest Tindiga Tented Camp still a valid alternative if you wish to save some money.
The next morning at dawn you will meet the Hadzabe. Hunting starts around 6.00 - 6.30 am and can take 2 up to 4 hours. They hunt lesser kudu, impala, baboons, wild pigs and birds such as guinea fowls, rarely buffaloes who tend to graze around here from mid of May up to July just after the long rains. The alternative option is to go gathering with women. This visit will not be a trip back into the later Stone Age but instead as a way to see how people of our own century, in part aware of technology, have not taken up the gun and continue hunting with their bows and poisoned arrows, still light a fire by rubbing a wooden stick against another piece of wood and still prefer to sleep on trees under the stars adopting very basic huts only in rainy season. Once more you should conceive that as a new world revealing aspects of yourself that you ignore.
At about 10.00 am you will depart from Lake Eyasi.

If you are able to combine the dates of your trip being at Eyasi on the 5th of each months then we would recommend you to stay a second night in order to visit the huge market of Gorofani. Since the people need some time to come in from all around the lake the market gets at its best early in the afternoon.