The Maasai of Ngorongoro

The Maasai of Ngorongoro : The Maasai are part of the many tribes in Tanzania who are known for their unique culture and way of life.

During a safari around the Ngorongoro conservation area, the Maasai can be encountered around the Ngorongoro highlands where their livestock such as cows, sheep and goats share grazing grounds with wildlife species like zebras, buffalos among others. These cultural tours with the Maassi can be combined with a wildlife experience around Ngorongoro conservation area.

The Ngorongoro conservation area is a famous wildlife destination in the northern part of Tanzania and it is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Many wildlife species can be seen during safaris around Ngorongoro when exploring the crater floor and other surrounding areas of the destination.

The wildlife of Ngorongoro conservation area and livestock of the Maasai have over the years lived in harmony although many attempts have been made to remove the Maasai from the Ngorongoro highlands which they consider their home or ancestral land.

The Maasai have in a great way contributed to cultural tourism in Tanzania and also benefited from tourism in Ngorongoro and Tanzania in general. The Maasai also act as guides during safaris in the Ngorongoro conservation area.

It is said that the Maasai see the wildlife as part of their community and have also contributed to conservation of the area by grazing their wildlife in specific areas around the Ngorongoro conservation area.

Maasai are generally nomads but they also practice agriculture, make local arts and crafts such as beaded jewelry like bracelets, anklets, necklaces among others which are sold to the tourists during their safaris to the Ngorongoro conservation area.

The Maasai of Ngorongoro
The Maasai of Ngorongoro

During visits to the villages and homesteads or Maasai bomas, tourists can visit the kraals where the livestock of the Maasai are kept and also learn how the Maasai share responsibilities such as how the boys take the livestock for grazing and the men and other elders discuss different issues about their community and also take part in ensuring their families are protected and taken care of.

Another activity to take part in during a visit to the Maasai community of the Ngorongoro conservation area is the traditional dance performances. The dance of the Maasai involves jumping really high especially done by the men who are adorned in their traditional attire which is shukas which are in different colors like red, blue and black among other colors. The dance is accompanied by songs which are chanted by the women and also by the men. Tourists are welcomed with these dances and they can also join in.

The Maasai are known for how they value their livestock and how they also determine the wealth of an individual by the amount of livestock one has. Livestock is also given as bride wealth during the marriages among the Maasai.

The homesteads of the Maasai are enclosed in a fence which helps to keep them safe from danger and the different homes are part of an enclosed setting which forms the community of the Maasai.

The houses of the Maasai are also grass thatched and the walls are made using mud and dung from the livestock like cattle. During cultural tours around Ngorongoro conservation area, tourists can also get a chance to enter these houses of the Maasai and experience their way of life as they interact with the locals. The Maasai women take care of decoration of the house and their families.

Other tribes who have occupied the Ngorongoro conservation area before include the Hadzabe and the Datoga but they were forced out of the area and the Maasai who are many in number took over the highland areas.

During cultural tours and interactions with the Maasai people, tourists can also take photos of the locals and the homesteads as they get to know more about the culture and their nomadic way of life among other things.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) plays an important role in safe guarding the livelihood of the Maasai, promoting ecotourism, initiating community based projects which the Maasai can benefit from among other things. This is done with the help of a Maasai council which oversees the cultural bomas.

The Maasai council also provides opportunities for the Maasai in tourism around the Ngorongoro conservation by providing jobs for the Maasai as guides during activities like walking safaris which are carried out during safaris. The Maasai are also employed in the lodges around Ngorongoro.

The Maasai of Ngorongoro
The Maasai of Ngorongoro

Apart from a cultural tour with the Maasai of Ngorongoro, tourists also take part in wildlife viewing around the destination where game drives are done along the crater floor, hot air balloon rides, nature walks and also bird watching.

Game drives around the Ngorongoro conservation area can be done at different times of day including the morning and in the afternoon or evening during a search for wildlife species such as the big five like elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalos as well as cheetahs, impalas, gazelles, elands, kudu, dik dik, hartebeests, zebras, wildebeests, hyenas, warthogs and many others. During the wildebeest migration in Tanzania, you can also enjoy seeing the wildebeest herds around the Ndutu area around January to March when over 8,000 wildebeest calves are bon daily. Many predators can also be seen during safaris around this time of the year.

The Ngorongoro conservation area can be visited during any month of the year for safaris however the dry season from June to October is recommended for wildlife safaris. The destination is about 3 to 4 hours’ drive from Arusha and is located close to other wildlife destinations like Serengeti national park, Lake Manyara national park and Tarangire national park.

When taking part in a cultural experience with the Maasai, you can also visit Ol duvai gorge, Empakaai crater, Olmoti crater, Ol donyo lengai and other attractions around the Ngorongoro conservation area.

Places to stay during tours around Ngorongoro conservation area include midrange, luxury or budget lodges around Karatu and other neighboring towns and also accommodations around the crater rim.

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