Tanzania Asilia: Cultural Discovery and the Big 5

from US $5639 (PP Sharing)

An all inclusive grassroots journey that has been designed exclusively for Gaia Conscious Travel for an in depth Experience.

Dates: 20 February - 5 March 2017
Group Size: Min 2

Uniquely designed for Gaia Conscious Travel, this fully inclusive package will REALLY take you off the beaten track to experience unique connections and understanding of the most fascinating Tanzanian cultures.

Instead of visiting the same villages that other operators visit, where the contact with the local communities is often biased and superficial, this operator will take you off the beaten track, to meet their own community partners. A refreshing and awakening Experience, where you will spend time and share knowledge with the Maasai and the Hadzabe cultural groups. 

You will live in these communities for 2 days and take part in daily chores and leisure activities, a tour of a traditional home and educational “bush” seminars with practical workshops and discussion groups. Another day will bring you closer to the Babati community, where you will visit a local family for lunch and share local activities alongside the lake.

But this trip will also allow you to enjoy many days of game driving in the most spectacular Tanzanian wildlife parks, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, as well as Tarangire, which is the surprise Northern add-on to this package. Off the main safari route, tarangire is quiet and lovely, most famous for its elephant migrations, birding and authentic safari feel.

The Operator

Both directors (Tanzanian and British born) share between them more than 20 years’ experience working with indigenous peoples in Tanzania, 10 of which were in the not-for profit sector. Our company was born out of a desire to educate travelers in an authentic, un-staged, community lead way about indigenous people in Tanzania, their cultures, way of life and their struggles through cultural ecotourism.

Our overall attitude to tourism in focused on personal growth and discovery (for visitors but also for the communities we connect with during our travels) and the intrinsic value of indigenous knowledge and wisdom; seeing the world through another’s perspective (taking a walk in each other’s shoes) but with minimal impact (both environmental and social) so all you leave behind are footprints in the earth. 

We are passionate about supporting indigenous peoples preserve their indigenous knowledge and cultural identities for future generations but also about promoting community- lead sustainable development. We are equally passionate about educating travelers through intimate and authentic exchanges that allow for a genuine, human interaction and knowledge sharing.  We believe cultural tourism can be an important means to achieve this goal.

Our company’s policies are based on a foundation of personal and academic research into the impact of ecotourism on indigenous peoples so we are well aware of the potential pitfalls as well as benefits and this is something which informs all of our product development.

We are also environmentally conscious individuals, who are actively engaged in reducing our footprint and impact, not just for the company but at home, whether through investment in state of the art water filters in order to cut down on plastic bottle use; buying locally wherever possible; or simply encouraging travelers to get out of the car and take-part in walking safaris or spend a few days with a local community doing a walking based cultural program.   

A central part of our company ethos is profit sharing with the communities we work with. 

An average 10% of the net profit from our programs goes towards community projects aimed at tackling issues highlighted by the communities as important. We also encourage projects which utilise indigenous knowledge and skills and environmentally based projects such as forest management.

Giving Tanzanians job opportunities is a priority for us, therefore all of our employees are local Tanzanians. Our company is nothing without the people we work with and employ. In recognition of this fact many of our employees are on full-contracts and paid on a salary basis (instead of per day) to ensure job security, with social security benefits and emergency air rescue insurance on top as a minimum. We also offer additional training in various areas including first aid, English “top-ups” to name a couple and opportunities for career growth.     

We are continually looking for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint and impact. So far we have implemented the use of state of the art water filters to reduce our plastic bottle consumption (so water is filtered directly from sources in the bush, however it is not yet possible for us to rely 100% on filtered water alone). Also many of our packages include community programs which are almost exclusively done on foot so reducing our carbon foot print. We also support a forest management project in one of the communities we work with. Roughly 80% of our equipment is locally produced and we endeavour to buy locally wherever possible. Whilst in the bush we have strict “leave no trace” policies. All of our camps are currently 100% mobile, meaning that in between groups camp sites have a chance to recover. We currently depend on a mixture of sustainable charcoal, gas and locally collected dead/sustainable sources of wood.

Our long term environmental goals include switching to sustainable fuel sources for our vehicles and switching to sustainable power sources in the office. Our mid-term goals include switching to 90% sustainable/renewable fuel sources in our camps. 

How we work with communities

All of the communities we visit we have long standing relationships with from the days we worked in the not for profit sector. We have solid friendships with many members of the community. During our programs a local guide is always present. This means that each community has control over how they are represented and what information is shared. Many of the local guides speak fluent English but all speak Swahili (the main African language spoken in Tanzania). Guides are usually rotated allowing more families to benefit.

How guests are prepared 

All guests receive a pre-departure info pack containing general information about Tanzania, it’s history, climate and environment, cultural awareness and Swahili language guide. On arriving in Tanzania guests receive an orientation that goes into more detail about the specific communities that might be visited as well as the “dominant” Swahili culture, cultural norms, what behaviour is and isn’t appropriate in each setting and what to expect in general.  They also receive “refresher” orientations during the trip just before entering into each community. 

Guests are encouraged to learn the traditional greetings of each community visited (as well as in Swahili!) which are also provided during orientation.

The people we work with on this tour 

For each tour there is a field crew consisting of a driver guide, camp chef, camp hand and a community facilitator/lead guide who is there to support guests as well as the local guides. Our tours are nothing without the people we work with. In recognition of this fact our employees are fairly paid (above the government minimum for the industry) as are the local guides. Community payments include a community conservation fee (paid to the local village governments), individual payments for local participants in activities, as well as a donation (usually to a community womens’ group or other NGO) in addition to the voluntary contributions to UCRT on the Gaia website.

Where possible we try to use hand-picked hotels and lodges which have a good reputation among lodge workers, engage in corporate social responsibility.

How the tour creates additional employment and income for 3rd parties

There is also the opportunity for guests to purchase traditional jewellery and other items directly from artists and craftsmen from the communities visited. We also make use of locally run hotels and lodges. 

How we create social awareness through our tours

An important part of our ethos and programs is raising international awareness of the social and environmental issues of indigenous and tribal people in Tanzania. We achieve this through open and honest dialogue with community members via discussion groups and question-answer sessions as well as mini “seminars”. We try to give as broad and in-depth over view of the circumstances of each community as possible within the given time constraints.

How we reduce our footprint on your tour

Guests spend as much time on foot as possible. Our itineraries are planned to provide ample time between destinations to avoid rushing around, thus using less fuel. Much of our equipment is locally produced reducing the carbon footprint created by importing goods. The same goes for food used in our camps. We filter our own water wherever practical (not all water sources are fit for filtering –e.g. high salt content) instead of relying exclusively on bottled water. We also make use of renewable or responsibly sourced fuel for cooking whenever we can.

All our guests are briefed on how to keep their environmental impact to a minimum from encouraging the use of biodegradable toiletries to how to dispose of trash appropriately. 

Mission of Parks visited 

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is an “experiment” in the co-habitation of people and wildlife whereby Maasai people are able to live their traditional lifestyle alongside native wildlife but other forms of human activity (farming/hunting etc) are prohibited. In the National Parks no human activity is allowed other than around camps.  All of the parks and conservation areas visited have strict leave no trace policies and policies regarding the removal of flora and fauna. We apply the same principles in the natural areas of the communities we visit. 

How your tour contributes to conservation and environmental awareness 

As part of your time in Tanzania guests have the opportunity to take part in forest management activities in a local Maasai village. This project is taken up directly with the village as a means to encourage the protection of their natural forests and discourage deforestation for the production of charcoal. Just by taking part in a community based program you are generating alternative sources of income giving people more opportunities so they are less reliant on environmentally destructive means of generating income such as charcoal production.

 Slowing down and letting go

Western culture causes us to be constantly clock watching. Life in Tanzania, however, happens at a different pace. Outside of major urban areas peoples relationship to time is very different; slower, relaxed. During community visits guests will be encouraged to embrace this new relationship with time instead of expecting a tight schedule to be followed. People often experience a great sense of relief and liberation when they simply allow themselves to go with the flow!

Reconnecting with yourself and your environment

Since everything is taken care of from transport to food to accommodation guests will have very little to think about and can focus entirely on what is going on around them and themselves. Meals prepared in camp are well balanced (with a few treats!) and make the most of good quality local produce including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

On the whole this experience will be incredibly sensual, with new and exotic smells, sights and sounds. Tanzania is without doubt one of the most beautiful, diverse, exciting but also humbling places to visit on Earth. It will certainly take your breath away! 

Personal growth

Being able to connect with local people is an integral part of this trip. Not only will guests learn a lot about these indigenous communities they will also have the chance to engage with them, ask questions and reflect on their experiences without judgement. Some of the experiences guests will have, from camping in the bush, surrounded by wildlife, to witnessing traditional ceremonies or taking part in traditional daily chores/activities and the conversations they will take part in, may be very challenging for some but in the end visitors finish their trip with new insights and an altered world view that will have a profound and lasting impact on their life. 

Ujamaa Community Resource Team - UCRT

We will give you the option to donate to this project on your final invoice.


The savannahs and grasslands of Northern Tanzania are one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. Our human origins lie in these landscapes, and today the region is home to huge populations of large mammals that have disappeared from most other parts of Africa and the world at large. The region is a crossroads of different cultures and ethnic groups with ancient heritages.

All of these groups of people depend on the lands and natural resources that they have utilized for centuries and for some, many thousands of years: in turn these landscapes have shaped their cultures and ways of life. Conservation is a fundamental aspect of their daily lives and key for their prosperity, which is why economic development and natural resource management are inseparable to these people. The last 120 years have been challenging for most rural communities in Tanzania, as both pre- and post-independence governments have shifted control over lands and resources from local to national control. Sadly, much-needed incentives for sustainable use and management have been eroded by this loss of local rights and control.

In the 1980's, a tourism company called Dorobo Tours, headed by three Tanzanian-born American brothers - Daudi, Thad and Mike Peterson - was becoming increasingly concerned by the spread of unsustainable agriculture, a large increase in charcoal burning and loss of wildlife habitat throughout the region. In response, Dorobo Tours initiated the first tourism agreements with several villages in Ngorongoro and Simanjiro Districts. These agreements provided communities contractual income from tourism in exchange for their setting aside and managing areas of village land for wildlife and wildlife-compatible uses.

Please donate to to UCRT / Dorobo Fund 

UCRT is grateful for all donations, of all sizes, as they allow us to continue lifting marginalised people out of poverty while conserving our natural resources. 

Sponsor a Student and give a child a future!

ImageWithout education poor pastoralist and hunter-gatherer communities will never be able to protect their rights, culture and natural resources. By sponsoring a child to secondary school you are helping to lift their entire family out of poverty. 

Due to the extremely low pass rates at government run secondary schools in the districts we work, UCRT sponsors students to local private schools. While this makes the fees more costly we believe it is important to give a child a quality education if they are to have a chance at achieving their full potential. 

Read a Community Based Tourism Case Study by UCTR here.

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