It is almost impossible to spend time with traditional hunter gatherer tribes and not affect the way they live. In Northern Tanzania, the Hadzabe, one of the last and most remote of the Bushmen tribes, still lives in the dry woodlands of remote Lake Eyasi. They live today as they have lived for thousands of years; hunting for game with bows and arrows made from giraffe tendons, gathering honey from the beautiful African baobab trees, and digging for roots and tubers from deep within the arid ground of the acacia bush land.
But over the last few decades, the Hadzabe bushman have been pushed deeper and deeper in to the bush land, and are now fighting to preserve their unique culture and traditions. Ilmaasai Expedition and a few other like-minded companies are trying to help the Hadzabe to determine their own future and receive fair treatment in a fast changing Africa. We have access to the area, and by visiting them funds are channeled straight to various village account that acts in their interests. Aims are to protect the Hadzabe against unnecessary and unfair exploitation. Ilmaasai does not encourage or deter the Hadzabe to live as hunter gatherers, but ensure that the Hadzabe people receive correct information about current political situations and events, to allow them to make their own decisions about the direction their lives should take.
We spend time with one of the Hadzabe communities that choose to live a traditional hunter gather lifestyle. It is crucial, to research a visit to the Hadzabe carefully, as some of the more accessible groups are very commercialized and do not properly reflect the unique charisma and identity of these ancient people.
The Hadzabe community we visit lives far from the normal tourist route and are therefore very difficult to reach by car. We always plan to spend three nights in a small mobile camp close to the Hadzabe village. Importantly, it is difficult to be able to understand and absorb the harmony and serenity of the Hadzabe with a flying visit: so three days allows us time to connect properly with these wonderful people.
For one whole day we join the men on hunting and honey gathering trips. We try to keep groups of guests small in order to avoid alerting the game to our presence and having an adverse affect on their hunting. The day could well involve a fair amount of walking and tracking of wild game. Although one might think that meat forms a large part of the diet, the Hadzabe are largely vegetarians and the majority of their meals are based around honey and fruit.
The second day is spent with the women of the village, spending time with them as they forage for roots, tubers and berries. This is a wonderful day learning about plants and their various uses.
Such intimate and unusual times with the Bushmen are powerful experiences that are hard to beat. Â But we also live and walk in some of the most beautiful African bush, constantly surrounded by wild animals. Anybody who enjoys spending time close to nature in wild, will love this trip. Some of our campsite is set at the foot of a rocky outcrops that is sacred to the Hadzabe people, and from the top there are stunning views of the valley, and beyond to the reaches of Lake Eyasi.
Most afternoons are spent in and around camp, relaxing and taking our own bush walks in the area. A By late afternoon, the sunsets from the escarpment are spectacular.
This cultural experience is one of the most sensitive cultural encounters available in the world today. The essence of Hadzabe culture can be summed up in one word: harmony “ they live in harmony with each other, in harmony with nature, and in harmony with themselves.
It is a must!