Cultural Experiences, East Africa
No visit to East Africa is complete without exploring the diverse cultures and traditions of the people of this region. It has an extensive fossil record of human evolution, and today’s East Africa is a rich tapestry of the constantly changing and mingling cultures that have lived here through the ages.
At Asilia, we are fortunate to be able to welcome you to some of the most special places on earth. Places of astounding natural beauty, teeming with wildlife and full of cultural significance. It is astonishing to realise that Tanzania has over 120 tribes, most with their own traditions, culture and language or dialect, and Kenya has 40. While people in both countries embrace the 21st century, they also treasure the cultural heritage that defines their identity. Exploring these fascinating cultures helps to give you a true understanding of these precious places, as well as of the challenges they face.
120 + 40
Number of tribes in Tanzania and Kenya respectively
1 526 512KM²
Area of Tanzania and Kenya together
Number of languages spoken in East Africa
The need to set aside vast tracts of pristine land as wilderness conservation areas seems obvious. What many don’t realise, though, is that humans also have been an integral part of this landscape since time immemorial. In our modern-day zeal to protect these African Edens, we have excluded many traditional semi-nomadic people who lived in and on this land for centuries. It is a policy that could doom conservation areas to failure, as poverty-stricken local communities compete for resources.
Ultimately, bringing sustainable tourism to new areas can transform them into viable and lasting conservation-based economies, while maintaining locals’ sense of identity.
We pride ourselves on taking a pioneering approach: setting up camps and lodges in areas where tourism has little foothold and making long-term commitments to allow these places and the people who live in them to thrive. During visits to the villages, you’ll be exposed to real, authentic East African cultural experiences. Try your hand at herding cattle, barter for goods in a local soko (market), interact with school children and settle down to listen to fascinating stories told by the village old-timers.
Most of our guides are drawn from local communities. They relish the chance to show you their homesteads, their family and friends, traditions and practices. These are not commercial tours to cultural centres – they are a genuine expression of warmth and hospitality. The guide manages your visit with sensitivity to ensure it remains both unobtrusive and genuine.
You will find that meeting the people of the area one-on-one is deeply personal and moving. Your visit is important to these communities, too – it is just one step in helping us to create successful conservation economies.
Many of our camps support vegetable-growing schemes, and you can pop into the village to select and pick organic produce for your next meal.
If your timing is right, you may be able to observe or even take part in traditional rituals and ceremonial dances – a vibrant part of village life. The famous jumping dance is just one of the traditional dance ceremonies the Maasai perform.
Children also really enjoy visit a nearby community or school to learn about the customs of East Africa, make pen-pals and buy local handicrafts. Education is really important to us, and your visits play a big role in helping these communities and projects.