Cultural Tourism in Tanzania ( Tanzania cultural tours) includes safaris into the country by travelers who are interested in the cultural heritage and history of the different tribes in Tanzania. Tanzania is a home of more than 120 ethnic groups, finds itself having the crucial potentiality of organizing and conducting cultural tourism. Due to its peaceful, humble, harmonious and self-esteemed people, it’s easier to collaborate with local residents to form different cultural tourism enterprises (cultural tourism programmes) without conflict among people.
Tanzania is blessed by having many tourist attractions that make it be among the best countries in the world which receive many tourists. It also makes Tanzania the best place in the world to conduct tourism activities. Some of these are game drives/game viewing, beach tourism, agro-tourism birding safaris, and many others.
Above all is that the local communities are the ones which gain more from cultural tourism because the livelihood is improved in many ways in terms of community infrastructure, employment, health facilities and much more.
Evolution of Cultural Tourism
Cultural tourism in Tanzania started in 1994 as the request from youth Maasai who wanted to operate tourism activities in their village. The idea was fantastic since it aimed to start the program from scratch, hence beneficiaries are people from the community around.
Cultural Tourism Programs
In Tanzania, we have more than 40 Cultural Tourism Programmes which generally have almost the same objectives such as ensuring gender empowerment, to eliminate poverty and bring a sense of ownership of tourism to the local people.
These cultural tourism programmes support community at large because in areas where these programmes take place there is some improvement of local people livelihood either individually or in a collective manner, by getting income via tourism activities taking place in the particular community. Cultural tourism enterprises that operate in different circuits of tourism in Tanzania are Mto Wa Mbu Cultural Tourism Enterprise, Chilunga Cultural Tourism Programme, Bujora Cultural Tourism, Uyole Cultural Tourism Programme and Matunda Cultural Tourism Programme.
Mto wa Mbu Cultural Tourism Programme
Mto Wa Mbu cultural tourism started in 1996 under the great support from Dutch people who provided financial and technical support. They ran the programme for about five years later on they left the programme to local people who were local guides in the enterprise and to date the programme is having more than forty(40) local guides.
Mto Wa Mbu is the village located in Monduli district that found at Arusha city, takes about 3 hours to reach the village by public buses and only two hours when using private cars. Mto Wa Mbu is closest to Lake Manyara National Park and the main road to Serengeti national park and Ngorongoro conservation area. Also, the village has well-designed trails for bike tours and cultural walks.
Activities and tours offered
- Hiking tours
It is offered at Balaa hill which is the top of the rift valley escarpment where tourist will experience both flora and fauna that cover the escarpment. The most famous is the baobab tree that has more than 2000 years.
- Maasai boma tours
The tour takes 3-4 hours where visitors will learn more about Maasai culture including their age, set organization, taboos, what they prefer to eat and how they interact with other tribes. Tourists will also meet with tribesmen and families in the different bomas to have a meal with Maasai people.
- Village walking tour
Tourists have a chance to walk around the village to see various attractions present within the village where daily activities of residents of Mto Wa Mbu do including business. Mostly the tour is half day tour of 2-4 hours where the lifestyle of more than 120 ethnic groups will be elaborated. There will also be a good time for visitors to taste a recipe of locally made banana beer and industrially processed banana wine.
- Farm tours
These tours involve visiting banana plantations whereby visitors will have a chance to learn more about 30 varieties of banana from how to grow until how to harvest with only simple procedures that farmers do manually with no machines. Also, visitors will visit rice plantations where irrigation system plays a big role in ensuring that there is no season of rice in the village where farmers grow rice twice per year.
- Biking Tour to Lake Manyara
It takes 2-5 hours to do this tour where visitors will have a chance to see one of the lakes that are found at the left valley. You will see some species of birds like varieties of storks, kingfishers, flamingos and so much more. The will be different mammals will be on a close range, including hippos, wild beast, buffalo and so many other animals in the Serengeti.
- Lunch at Mama’s
Take your 1-2 hours to visit and support women who have been empowered by the C.T.P (Cultural Tourism Programmes) where it will be the best moment to taste purely prepared African dishes that represent more than 120 cultural cuisines.
- Miwaleni waterfall tour
This is a biking tour which takes 3-5 hours, to reach Miwaleni where visitors will have a chance to see a variety of flora which is abundantly distributed. Also, there will be a good time for visitors to experience good climatic condition and swim beneath the falls.
Chilunga cultural tourism
This is the cultural tourism found in Morogoro (a region that is 195km from Dar es Salaam city). The enterprise offers different tours and activities that make visitors experience the culture of indigenous people found at mount Uluguru which are Walugulu and Wakagulu.
Tours and activities offered
- Morning side tour
Visitors will get a chance to visit old German settlement built in 1911 at 1500m of mount Uluguru. Also, the place is good for a view point where the Morogoro region will be overseen on top. On the way back there will be a good time to see different vegetations.
- Bird watching.
Being ecological hotspot, Uluguru mountain comprises different species of birds that can be seen at large from the elevation of 450 to 2000m above sea level. Some species are endemic where visitors will have a new experience like bird watching safaris.
- Lupanga tour
Will be a good chance to reach at the peak of mount Uluguru while climbing to the top visitors will see varieties of plants and animals found at Lupanga peak. Also, a lot of insects and monkeys of different species will be part of things that make tour unforgettable.
- Madola tour
It is a very unique tour where visitors will meet a traditional healer who treats people using special medicinal plants by traditional ways of healing
Bujora cultural tourism
This is the cultural tourism program located in Mwanza City. The cultural program is aiming at letting people learn Sukuma culture which is one of the biggest tribes in Tanzania. It offers different tours to visitors where visitors will visit different cultural attractions like Bujora church, Sukuma royal pavilion, Sukuma traditional homestead, Sukuma archives, and medicine’s man.
Impacts of tourism to local communities
Local communities have benefited a lot from cultural tours organized in their areas. There are two ways that local people benefit from cultural tours that take place within the community, these ways referred to as benefit sharing mechanism by which contribution can either benefit one individually or collectively.
- Directly (individual) benefit sharing mechanisms
In this mechanism, community member(s) get benefits from cultural tours by selling their stuff to tourists and thus they generate their daily income directly. Examples of people who generate benefits directly are people who do business in curio shops, women who cook food for tourists, Makonde wood carvings-based people, painters, street vendors, and local market dealers.
Also, people who benefit directly from cultural tourism program by being hired as local guides because, in the guideline for establishing and operating cultural tourism enterprises, people who are recommended as a guide are those with knowledge about the community hence the beneficiaries are local people who know the better geography and history of the place.
On the other hand, side, local people get to benefit directly by serving accommodation services to visitors who may have booked over-night tours to experience the real life of Tanzanian, especially those who live in rural areas. These are some direct benefits sharing mechanism.
- Indirectly (collectively) benefit sharing mechanisms
These include all benefits that the communities gain in a collective manner that means all the benefits gained at large and every member of the community gains regardless of either talent, knowledge of doing something in the community, as far as they are community members enjoy the significance of tourism activities in their community.
Supporting health centers, improving infrastructures in the community, aiding orphanage centers, building some school infrastructures and volunteering in different community projects, are some of collective benefits communities gain from tourism activities.
Community participation and involvement in operating cultural tourism programs
In operating cultural tours, there must be community involvement in each and every stage of planning, running and organizing. Therefore without consulting indigenous people in the community high resistance from the community will be expected. When the community is well involved it will be easy for the enterprise to operate and finally, local people will cooperate actively by allowing tourists to take some pictures even to allow their properties like cattle and farms to be used as attractions.
Also, involvement can be by making preparedness to the community via community capacity building where local people will be taught how to do things that can be served to tourists so that community members can sustain their life via tourism. Teaching a foreign language also will build the capacity for the community to receive and serve visitors in their community.
Therefore, cultural tourism is of most important to Tanzania as it raises the community lifestyle especially the Maasai culture and the Mto Wa Mbu program.