On every trip we travel we seek to know people and traditions, customs, culture and everything that is related to the country’s people and its history. While travelling in Tanzania one of the most controversial visiting spots for us was the villages of Maasai. Why controversial? Read more to find out!
First of all, Massai or Maasai is a neo-hamai tribe that resides in southwestern Kenya, northern Tanzania and a small group in north-central Kenya, north of Mount Kenya, next to their relative tribe, the Samburu. This is a tribe that deals mainly with livestock farming. The Maasai travel long distances with their cows to find water while they are renowned for their fighting skills. Male warriors even dye their hair with a special red paint (ochre), made perhaps from a substance coming out of a plant in the area.
Any of the these two countries you decide to visit it is for sure that your travelling curiosity will make you wonder whether to visit or not a Maasai village!
A few words about the Maasai tribe
The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting northern, central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are among the best known local populations internationally due to their residence near the many game parks of the African Great Lakes, and their distinctive customs and dress. The Tanzanian and Kenyan governments have instituted programs to encourage the Maasai to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, but the people have continued their age-old customs. Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome visits to their villages to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle, in return for a fee.
The original villages of Maasai
So what we were wondering before visiting the area was whether we should or shouldn’t visit a Maasai village and how we were supposed to do so when the only info we found on internet was some really expensive tours to some villages that didn’t sound to be that authentic! So we made our research we saw the Maasai villages in Tanzania and sharing with you our opinion. The original Maasai villages are dozens and they are called bomas. These are small settlements in which they live by small communities and of course are located within improvised low walls of branches etc in order to be preserved by wild animals that are free in their natural environment. During the day you will see thousands of Maasai shepherds, young and old, wandering around with their flocks in the mountains with their traditional clothing, barefoot or not but always willing to give you a smile.
They are registered citizens so that they can receive health care or, for example, so that they can vote in elections, but they are not particularly interested in the “civilised” lifestyle and choose their own authentic “primitive”. Living in nature.
How to visit an authentic Maasai village
Our advice is first of all not to visit a Maasai village, because you will simply see so many villages and so many Maasai people during your driving through the national parks of Tanzania that you will satisfy every travel curiosity of yours. You don’t have to be one of the annoying tourists who pay a lot of dollars to infiltrate the Maasai sanctuaries, whereas in fact what happens is paying to see a very well organized performance in a fake Maasai village.
How much does visiting a Maasai village cost?
The truth is that with a brief search on the internet you will find many pages that suggest this tour as something unique and cultural and so on… They’ll charge you $70-100 (something cheaper definitely hides other costs, e.g. no transportation included), while if you choose to stay in a village next to the Maasai leader the price is above $150. You get what you pay after all… or not?
What do we recommend?
If despite all the Maasai seeing you ll get to have while driving through bomas at National parks (even in Zanzibar you will find them almost everywhere) you still want to visit one of the authentic villages (villages outside the area mentioned above are not authentic but staged performances for the tourists) during your trip at the national parks ask your guide to stop you in one of the villages but always check the entrance fee which varies from $5-20.
Last but not least, because even this choice seems a little uncomfortable to us… Think of a Tanzanian guy coming unexpectedly into your home and paying you to get into your life with you showing him what you’re doing in your daily life and even worse start photographing your kids in exchange for a candy! After all you can find dozens of videos on youtube or on travel shows of others, let’s call them travelers, influencers, instagrammers or whatever… who love disturbing and ruining the maasai way of thinking and teaching us culture lessons (when you teach someone that all he has to do for money which he doesn’t even need, is to send his child to beg for a candy… we are truly sorry, but this is just a bad example of how to become a stupid tourist…).
The choice is your of course! We do not intent to judge, but this is our view, that is how we feel and these are the thoughts we would like to share with our readers. To be fair we have to admit that you can definitely visit respectfully a Maasai village without being annoying, but even this simply doesn’t fit our way of traveling.
However, we hope we helped you get a little insight into what awaits you and what choices you have!