Culture Tourism is one of the leading attractions of Tanzania. The country has all the major ethnic and linguistic groups of Africa that includes over 100 different tribes. Arusha Town is surrounded by tribal societies that are in transition from traditional to modern way of life. A visit to the villages enables visitors to get an insight of the fading African traditional life. The following are some of the tribal areas and villages near Arusha that offer cultural tourism programmes to visitors.
Different areas you can explore Tanzanian culture
Monduli Juu is a cluster of four small Maasai villages namely Emairete, Enguiki, Eluwai and Mfereji. Emairete consists of a wonderful crater where, in former times, the cattle of only medicine men were supposed to graze. Enguiki village is named after its famous pastures. Eluwai is a village called after the trees where certain small ants have their habitat and that are whistling in the wind. Mfereji is a village down the escarpment that, a long time ago, develop from a place where a South African lived who pulled a ditch down to bring water from the Monduli Mountains.
Mulala is a typical Bantu village. It is nestled on the green southern slopes of Meru, just
below the alpine forest reserve and a few kilometers from the border of Arusha National Park. The village is about 30km from Arusha Town, and is located to the north side of the Moshi-Arusha highway.
Tours to Mulala include crisscrossing coffee and banana farms, and inspecting small women’s business societies that engage in income-generating projects such as cheese making, chilli-growing, and tailoring. The women are happy to show visitors how coffee is traditionally processed and how some traditional African food is prepared.
Tengeru is 13 kilometres from Arusha town off the Arusha-Moshi road. Tengeru offers a glimpse of the culture of the Meru people and their farming methods including tracing the preparation of coffee right from the farm to the table. Tengeru also offers nature walks along the Mountain Rivers and an excursion to Lake Duluti on the lower slopes of Mount Meru The organizers of tours have also special programmes to visit families with disabled children and the local village primary schools.
IIkiding’a is on the higher slopes of Mount Meru about 7 kilometres north of Arusha town and offers a view into the culture of the Wa-Arusha tribe. Walks across these villages provide impressive viewpoints and include climbing hills and having riverside picnics. Tours of IIkiding’a include a visit to craftsmen making the traditional Maasai swords and calling at traditionally built homesteads to get an idea of how extended families live together.
Ngiresi is a village of the Wa-Arusa tribe and offers guided tours to the lush slopes of Mount Meru Tours to Ngiresi highlights the struggle of the people to develop and so includes visits to development projects like soil conservation, migration, cross-breeding, and the use of bio-gas. Ngiresi is about 7 kilometers from Arusha town.
IIkurot is about 20 kilometres west of Arusha Town and is a place for both the Maasai and the Wa-Arusa. Tours of IIkurot include a visit to a Maasai boma (the traditional Maasai enclosure/village) to see the traditional houses and lifestyle of the Maasai in transition from nomadic to include programmes for watching Maasai dances and meeting women’s handicraft groups making traditional Maasai ornaments.
Osotwa is about 2 kilometers from the suburb of Ngara Mtoni, west of Arusha town, and off the Arusha-Nairobi Road. Osotwa offers safaris to traditional Wa-Arusha-Maasai homesteads and visits to colourful weekly open markets. Osotwa also offers a climb to Shambasha Hill, an old volcano with natural forest rich with birds, butterflies and monkeys and the privilege to enjoy a wonderful view of Arusha town.
Mkuru is a Maasai settlement on the northern side of Mount Meru where they have gone a step beyond the traditional cattle-keeping culture by beginning to keep camels. Mkuru therefore offers camel safaris in addition to bush walks and hill climbing and visits to Maasai homesteads.
From Arusha, the scenic route to Mkuru Juu means “Higher Monduli;” it is a cool, picturesque, green plateau standing in the middle of the usual low Maasai plains. A visit to Monduli offers a “medicinal” tour to see the herbs and plants of Maasailand that are used in traditional medicine and to enjoy panoramic views of the Rift Valley, the active volcano Oldonyo Lengai, and Lake Natron.
Longido offers a walking safaris through the Maasai plains and a climb of the impressive Longido Mountain (2690m) through dense natural forest. A tour of the extensive plains surrounding the mountain features an insight into the traditions of Maasai culture and offers the opportunity to see some of the rare birds and animals of the bush. Longido is about 80 kilometers north of Arusha on the road to the Namanga border crossing.
Machame is to the north of Arush-Moshi road and on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro on the approach to Moshi. It is about 50 kilometres from Arusha to the junction to Machame, and a further 14 kilometres from the junction to Kyalia, the center of cultural tourism in Machame. Machame is a mosaic of beautiful valleys, gorges, rivers, waterfall, and farms and is home to the Bantu Chagga people. Machame offers tales of chagga legends, forest hikes and visits to chagga homesteads.
Mto wa Mbu
Mto wa Mbu is situated on the way from Arusha to the great national parks of northern Tanzania, which including Ngorongoro and Serengeti. It is a green oasis just at the foot of the rift valley and bordering to Lake Manyara. A visit to Mto wa Mbu includes farm tours, country walks and a view into the culture of many different tribes that have migrated to the area but have retained their tribal way of life.