In the winter of 2019, Henderson Productions took a small group to Tanzania for a 14-day adventure. This blog series tells the story of the trip and our fellow travelers. Using our network around the world, we curated a tour to give us local connections and experiences beyond the normal tourist choices. For more information about our upcoming trips, subscribe to our newsletter.
Holy smokes what a crazy day! We saw everything. Comfortably in our little Toyota Land Cruiser which is gutless uphill but modified for mud and ponds and off-road activities, we’ve been entertaining each other with side jokes and clever repartee.
Our trek from Acacia Farm took us progressively higher and higher to ride the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater enroute to Serengeti National Park. It was lush, almost like a jungle, green with massive views of the valley to our left and the worlds largest intact caldera on the right. We spent a half hour at the crater view post with binoculars and cameras checking out everything below on the floor which we will traverse on Friday after Serengeti. This was just a transit thru to the other park.
But before we had made it to Serengeti, we had more than half our discovery list seen including some unusual critters for this run – hyena and a large lion silhouetted under an acacia on a rocky hill. We also had a wonderful hour-long visit (add $10 each and well worth it) at a Masai boma. Absolutely no doubt we all will have gorgeous pics from the stop.
They began with a welcoming dance complete with bass and soprano trilling, blowing a pipe reminiscent of didgeridoo, and women shrugging their shoulders to bounce the beaded necklaces in rhythm to the men stomping – all while rotating in tighter concentric circles.
Then they invited (coerced) all the women to join their women to practice doing the same which is a) hard on the neck muscles; b) rough with a camera around your neck; and c) a jolly good laugh. Even N had fun giving it a try, but I admit to backing out of the line to capture it all from behind – mostly because more than half our “teachers” had babies on their backs and allowed me to photo them. Gorgeous.
After, the men competed in a height jumping contest which while entertaining, was mercifully short. I gotta say if bouncing beads on your bosom and waggling your tail feathers was meant to be mating rituals – we massively failed. Nevertheless, colorful in many ways to be sure.
Then we all entered the boma to watch them make fire which had enough “oh-shit-it-isn’t-working” suspense to capture 16 adult’s attention for five minutes. We were divided into pairs to tour specific homes and ask anything we liked. R and I went with Steven who has 1 wife – so far – and four children. Two are in kindergarten. He was 24 and she 22 when they married and seemed nonplussed when I suggested that was “old”. I now understand both from Steven and Johnson that marriage is taken VERY seriously and should only happen when a man can support both his parents and a wife/new family. Steven did tell us he would have a polygamous life soon – when he can afford it. We learned a man’s wealth is based on the head of cattle he owns and the number of children he produces. Each wife will have her own home and still be in the village. The entire boma is all one family with approx. 100 persons. Not sure if that includes the dozen or so new babies wrapped up on mommy’s backs.
Our dark visit inside the three-room house included poor Steven trying to honor my request to lift the lid on the camp pot to glimpse what was cooking for dinner where he promptly burnt his fingers and mumbled that was “woman’s work.”
To be sure it appears much of their “work” is done by women. We watched five women building a house with stick support and base then covered in plentiful cow dung which hardens to concrete. A tarp over the structure with more dung on top provides a watertight roof. There are tiny windows in each room and a central hole in the roof for fire smoke to escape and a little light to come in. And women are also responsible for carrying 5-gallon buckets and jugs of water back and forth from a centrally provided government water source.
Took tons of atmospheric shots all over of each other and the tribe. S shopped, V told war stories, R donated to the school. D created art pics, M bought a knife off a warrior when he asked about it. I was proud to toss one tiny ornament into a bundling effort and otherwise be unscathed. I think I was the only one besides D and J. Good company.
Back in the vehicles for more roadside attractions. Near as I can tell we have a very knowledgeable guide. He likes us asking questions, uses the real name when pointing out birds and animals and calls others if he doesn’t know an answer. Cool by all of us.