WHAT IS CULTURAL TOURISM ?
Culture includes aspects of identity and ethnicity. Ethnicity is the taken-for-granted social collective that lies at the intersection of identity and culture (Comaroff and Comaroff, Ethnicity Inc., 2009). Cultural tourism is a rapidly growing market niche attracting considerable attention worldwide as increased numbers of travelers are seeking travel destinations offering leisure travel combined with distinctive cultural experiences. This growing market niche is being driven by tourists interested in having specialized kinds of travel expereinces and the availability of global communications. As tourists become more sophisticated, they discover unique travel opportunities that include getting to meet and better understand the peoples living in the places they visit and learn about their past and present cultural manifestations. In sub-Sahara East Africa, cultural tourism is an alternative way to have personal and interpersonal interactive experiences with the traditional tribal-based peoples living in their remote natural habitats. This form of leisure travel integrates learning about the distinctive characteristics of new place visited along with its indigenous peoples. Cultural tours combine viewing and learning about natural environments, its geographic and geological features, learn how its flora and fauna have adapted to the physical environment, and better understand how its indigenous peoples have adapted to their natural environment. Well designed cultural immersion experiences can transform the travelers personal perspectives about their own culture , cultural identity, way of life, and highten self-awareness. Authentic cultural experiences stimulate intellectual , emotional, psychological, and spiritual growith.
WHO PARTICIPATES IN CULTURAL VISITS?
Cultural trips are designed for people of every age group. Cultural experiences are multigenerational events and includes everyone in the family. Cross-cultural contacts and encounters are great for young adults such as teenagers and college students exploring their personal identities. It helps them re-examine and carify their values, raises self-conscious awareness, develops self-esteem, cultivates self-discovery, strengthens self-confidence, and nurtures self-development. Adventurous older students and adults who may have more time on their hands can live with the local tribe for a period of time or just stay overnight, allowing for a more intensive and in-depth owncultural studies experience and exchange tales around late-night campfire under the starry night sky in the African bush. Bromely would need to know in advance if this is of interest.
OUR DESIGNED CULTURAL EXPERIENCE
As an African tour operator, Tanzania Roadside Expeditions views the entire safari experience as a holistic informal educational opportunity integrating the wildlife safari and recreational activities with cultural encounters in the African bush. Cultural visits come alive though high quality cross-cultural exchanges. Africa is home to some of the last indigenous tribes on earth. Visiting Africa is an opportunity to meet these tribes who have survived in the wild for thousands of years, before they become extinct. Through Tanzania Roadside Expeditions culturally sensitive safari adventures, it has designed highly personalized opportunities for guests and hosts to get to know one another on a mutual basis by coordinating unscripted direct interpersonal exchanges. This allows guests and their native hosts living off the beaten track to grow through these interactions. The local peoples are curious about the travelers who pass through their lands. They have invited Tanzania Roadside Expeditions to arrange opportunities to meet these travelers. The pristine and colorful tribal groups Bromely has arnaged to visit remained unspoiled by modern ways of life and technologies.
Tanzania Roadside Expeditions employs local tribal members that speak English and who know the traditional tribal ritual practices, way of life, and tribal language to guide Tanzania Roadside Expeditions guests. These guides coordinate the cultural interactions between guests and hosts. By employing tribal members and providing and opportunity for foreign guests to purchase handmade items used during the daily life of the tribe, it helps the sustainability and preservation of the indigenous people by generating a form of income that empowers marginalized peoples by creating a form of economic development. In this way, tradtional tribal peoples can purchase items to supplement their material lives. Through cultural visits, they can realize the potential of their own cultural development and autonomy.
To preserve the cultural mosaic within the African bush, Tanzania Roadside Expeditions has taken measures to minimize any negative impacts to host cultures by working with multiple native ethnic groups to avoid over-exposure of any one community to life styles that are foreign to them. By rotating guests to multiple traditional communities, Tanzania Roadside Expeditions helps to preserve the cultural integrity of the peoples visited and respectfully honors and encourages their continuation. This also helps prevent a traditional community from becoming a tourist trap.
WHAT TAKES PLACE DURING CULTURAL VISITS?
Hands-on cultural immersion experiences involve a wide range of specific activities travel guests can particiapte in depending on the tribal group visited. The tribes visited include Hadzabe, Datoga, Sonjo, and Maasai, peoples. Tanzania Roadside Expeditions guests can sit during the day in the shade or at night around campfires under the vivid Serengeti starry night sky and interact directly with tribal elders and their families to learn tribal myths, beliefs, stories, rituals, traditions, histories, and the basis for traditional familial and communal structures. Guests can learn how these pre-modern peoples have adapted to their natural environment, use it for medicinal purposes, and better understand the economic basis for their way of life. Guests can share their own stories, customs, beliefs, economic way of life, and western child-rearing practices. As human encounters are mutual and reciprocal, both guest and host are encouraged to share aspects of their lives with one another. In this way, everyone learns and grows through this opportunity for cross-cultural interaction. The foreign visitors will meet the herdsmen or hunters and gatherers, depending on the basis of the tribal economy.
Participants may choose to join the women and children and help them with some of their daily activities such as collecting twigs and firewood to cook meals, help in the food preparation, smell and taste the food cooking at the communal campfires, learn to weave and prepare garments from animal hides, and safely collect honey from rocky crevices and huge odd looking Baobab trees as their tribal hosts demonstrate this process. Guests can also join the tribe by participating in their tribal chants, dance, and join the hunters as they go into the bush to catch their food for the day (remember, there is no refrigeration so daily food collection is a labor intensive daily task) .
In this way, cultural immersion experiences are multi-sensory. Ultimately, cultural encounters allow the visitor to better understand themselves, question their own cultural assumptions, and develop a greater sense of identification with people whose lives seem strange and foreign. Through this process, both guests and hosts feel closer to and more familiar with one another as human beings.
HOW WE IDENTIFY SPECIFIC CULTURAL EXPERIENCE FOR OUR GUESTS
Tanzania Roadside Expeditions interactive cultural itinerary begins before you arrive. When a guest and their family tells us they want to participate in a cultural visit, we asked some key questions to get to know you and your interests. When you arrive in Arusha, you will have the opportunity during your safari orientation to view several video clips (2 minutes or less each) showing different kinds of activities you can participate in during your cultural visiit. By seeing the various kinds of cultural activities you can participate in during your cultural visit, you can custom design the specific cultural experience (s) you would like to have when you arrive at the tribe that best meets your specific needs, interests, and personality.