The Maasai Culture of Jenny Revesz and Abby Olemisiko's "Trip of a Lifetime" Boutique African Safari Itinerary
This month I am concluding my three-part blog series on the Tanzanian Boutique Safari experience by highlighting the incredible Maasai people of the region.
In Tanzania, there are 120 tribes of different people alone, from the Maasai of the North to the Swahili of the coast. Boutique Safari founders Abbey and Raymond, are Maasai and grew up in the bush in the traditional Maasai cultural fashion. This unique cultural connection provides many opportunities to learn and interact with local Maasai people that few other safari companies can match.
Despite the fact that an incredible diversity of tribes exists within the country, Tanzania doesn’t suffer from tribal conflict like some other countries in Africa. They are united in one country, using one language called Kiswahili, and they stand together as one people. Most Tanzanian people speak English as well.
During our visit to Tanzania, our group is treated to a special visit at a local orphanage, the Cradle of Love Baby Home. Poverty and diseases have devastated Africa and left thousands of children orphans. Our visits provide visitors with a chance to lend support to the community. There are even items we can bring from home to help the kids but one of the most valuable things you can bring them is a food donation from the market. Everyone who visits is touched and emotionally moved by the incredible spirit and hope of the children they meet.
Another way that we connect with the local people on this journey is by visiting Shanga. Shanga is the Swahili word for “bead” and was founded as a for-profit company to create a community that supports and empowers those Tanzanians who have been marginalized
by their disabilities.
The artisans at Shanga make some of the most unique items to bring home and none of their products are available elsewhere. On our visit, we tour this remarkable workshop located on a coffee plantation and interact with some of the 42 disabled Tanzanians employed there. In fact, all income from the Shanga workshop, restaurant, and shop sales goes towards employing more disabled people – the waiting list for jobs is endless. In their own words: “At Shanga you learn together how to make unique, fabulous, and high-quality products from recycled materials in a positive environment that respects people of all kinds.”
During our visit to Shaga, lunch is included at the River House, which is a wonderful restaurant serving delightful local meals tailored to the tastes of visitors. Part of the Shanga community, the River House is located in lovely gardens surrounded by an enormous fig tree. Often vervet monkeys visit making for an entertaining lunch.
A big part of the uniqueness factor of the Boutique Safari experience is getting to visit a Maasai tribe with one of its distinguished elder warriors in an intimate and personal interaction that few tourists get. Along the way, we pass by Maasai villages and small towns providing a fascinating perspective.
The roads aren’t always the best so prepare for some bumps along the way, it will also be dusty. The vistas will be fascinating, young boys herding their flocks, the rift valley escarpment rising above and the Maasai sacred mountain, Oldonyo Lengai in the background.
There are so many spontaneous cultural interactions inherent to this curated yet organic Tanzanian experience. As is customary, our expert Massai guide Abby is expected to greet everyone and this in and of itself is a fascinating experience. Villagers will come up to the vehicle to say hello. Unlike normal tourists, you will be welcomed into their environment. The locals will allow you to take their photo facilitated by Abby – they normally won’t do this, but Abby’s presence opens the doors to everything. The village is typical and has been the same for millennia. Expect to see many faces that you won’t soon forget.
We also facilitate a picnic lunch visit to Abby’s parent’s home where we enjoy some time with his parents. They have one of the most unexpected and amazing gardens – a water-drip system is used to grow hundreds of vegetables and fruit that feed many in the village. Overall, you will find that locals are generally friendly and happy to see you, especially when traveling with Abby as your guide. You will be fascinated, charmed, and enchanted by the warmth of the Massai people and can expect to hear the warm greeting of “Jambo” wherever you go!
I hope you have enjoyed this three-part blog series that dives deeper into the unique Boutique Safari experience. Hopefully, these blogs have inspired you to join me and Abby in Tanzania this May. This will be the last time I accompany a group to Tanzania for the foreseeable future so don't miss your chance to visit Tanzania with Jenny and Abby!