Overall there are 120 tribes in Tanzania, each with their own customs and traditions and all being of various sizes and location within the country.

Click on a picture to learn more about the tribe.

The Hadza people, or Hadzabe’e, are an ethnic group in central Tanzania who live around Lake Eyasi in the central Rift Valley and in the neighboring Serengeti Plateau. They live as hunter-gatherers, much as they have for tens of thousands of years; they are the last functioning hunter-gatherers in Africa. The Hadza are not closely related to any other people but are believed to be distant relatives of the Pygmies. The Hadza language contains clicks and appears to be isolate, unrelated to any other language.  

The Hadza have traditionally foraged for their food. Such foraging is done for hunting, collecting for berries and for honey. Tanzanian authorities recognize that the Hadza are a special case and do not enforce neither hunting regulations nor taxes.  

Hadza men usually forage individually bringing home honey, fruit or wild game when available. Women forage in larger parties, usually bringing home berries, baobab fruit and tubers depending on availability. The contribution of meat to the diet increases in the dry season, when game becomes concentrated around sources of water. During this time men often hunt in pairs and spend entire nights lying in wait by waterholes, hoping to shoot animals that approach for a night-time drink, with bows and arrows treated with poison. The Hadza are highly skilled, selective and opportunistic foragers, and adjust their diet to the season and circumstance.


Possibly the most recognized tribe in Tanzania is the Maasai. Their distinctive style and color of dressing make them stand out in a crowd. The Maasai are an indigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in northern Tanzania and Kenya. They speak Maa, Swahili, and some can speak English as well. Many reside near the game parks where their homemade villages are of interest to tourists. Recently Oxfam has claimed that the lifestyle of the Maasai should be embraced as a response to climate change due to their ability to farm in deserts and scrublands.  

Their society is strongly patriarchal in nature with the elder men; sometimes joined by retired elders, decide most major matters for each group. A full body of oral law covers many aspects of behavior.  

Traditional Maasai lifestyle centers on their cattle, which constitutes the primary source of food. The measure of a man’s wealth is in terms of cattle and children. A herd of 50 cattle is respectable, and the more children the better. A man who has plenty of one but not the other is considered to be poor. A myth relates that God gave them all the cattle on earth, leading to the belief that rustling cattle from other tribes is a matter of taking back what is rightfully theirs, a practice that has become much less common as time passes.  
We request that you respect their privacy and do not photograph them without their permission.


Like the Hadza people, the Datoga are also located in the Lake Eyasi area. The best known and largest sub-tribe are the pastoral Barabaig. The Datoga themselves blend in with their environment, their dress being the color of the reddish-brown soil. Only on closer inspection will they appear colorful with their patched leather dresses, bead work and brass bracelets and necklaces. A prominent decoration is tattooing of circular patterns around the eyes. Tanzanians and outsiders consider the Datoga primitive because they resist education and development. Their literacy rate is only about 1% and there is very little available in their language. Schools available are conducted in Swahili. They live in low standards of hygiene and have high infant mortality.  

The Datoga have basically been bypassed in modern political developments. They were not active in the colonial period and have lived in the small circle of their contacts with neighboring peoples, mostly in a belligerent relationship.  

The Datoga keep goats, sheep, donkeys and a few chickens, but cattle are by far the most important domestic animal. They resemble the Maasai in culture. The meat, fat, blood, milk, hide, horns, tendons and dung of every animal have either practical or ritual purposes. Previously nomadic, many now farm a plot of maize, sometimes beans or millet. They have a very difficult life, in semi-arid areas, where water is hard to obtain and often unclean. Their ideal family situation is polygamous, with wives ranked in order of marriage. Marriage must be outside the clan. Funerals are extensive ceremonies, lasting up to a year. Power centers in a neighborhood council of elders. Group pressure is the primary social control but elders can impose fines and curses. Men drink honey beer as a sacred drink on ritual occasions.

Islands of Tanzania

There are three main islands off the coast of the Tanzania mainland.

Click on a picture to learn more about the island.

Your time spent here is at your leisure, relaxed, and enjoying this magnificent island. Zanzibar is an unusual mix of Africa, conservative Muslim and coastal glamour. The most interesting part of Zanzibar Town, located on the western side of the island, is Stone Town. Its name may be unimaginative, but Stone Town is an enticing place to wander away a languid afternoon. Meander through the narrow alleyways and let your jaw drop at the town's unique architecture that fuses Arabic, Indian, European and African influences.  

For amazing wildlife viewing, Jozani Forest is home to rare red Colobus monkeys, Sykes monkeys, bushbabies, Ader's duikers, hyraxes and more species of butterflies and birds than you can point your camera at. The forest is about 22 miles south-east of Zanzibar Town and can easily be reached by bus or chartered taxi.  

There are several offshore islands to hop between, many of which were historically used to detain recalcitrant slaves. Changuu is known for its giant tortoise and other islands have interesting ruins to explore. Just offshore from Zanzibar Town are several tiny islets, many ringed by fetching coral reefs.  Few ventures to the Zanzibar Archipelago without whetting their appetite for seeing pristine coral reefs up close. Diving and snorkeling around Zanzibar, Chumbwe, and the smaller islands are among the best in the world.  

For those still feeling dust-clogged after their safari, languishing on one of the many beaches for a few days is a fine antidote. When your olfactory senses tire of all things fishy, take a spice tour to bamboozle the senses. The island still produces cloves, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, breadfruit, jackfruit, vanilla and lemongrass.

Mafia Island

While Zanzibar has become a popular tourist resort, Mafia Island lying only 160 km south, remains virtually unknown. Previously poor communications with the mainland and being much lesser known than Zanzibar have kept Mafia ‘original’ although a steady trickle of visitors are unanimous in singing its praise. Mafia is one of the safest places in the Indian Ocean and there are no hustlers to spoil a holiday.

The Mafia Archipelago is scattered over the Indian Ocean 21 km off the Rufiji River Delta in central Tanzania. The largest of a score of islands, atolls, and tidal sandbars, Mafia itself is approximately 50 km long by 15 km across and is surrounded by a barrier reef teeming with marine life. Almost half the coastline of Mafia, some 822 km², has been gazette a marine park by the government. To date over 50 genera of corals, more than 460 species of fish and five different species of turtles have been recorded in the waters around Chole Bay.

Natural vegetation on Mafia ranges from tidal mangrove thickets and scrubby coastal moorlands to palm-wooden grassland and lowland rainforest. Magnificent baobabs are prominent along with the native Albizia. Patches of coastal high forest remain in localities all over Mafia; one of the most picturesque, the Chunguruma Forest, is a dense tree canopy interlaced with palms, lianes and epiphytes and has an abundant floor covering of ferns. A series of reed-lined lakes in central Mafia are thought to be the remnants of an old lagoon which was cut off from the ocean thousands of years ago. Here live a number of small hippos which may have crossed from the mainland or were washed to the island by floods of the Rufiji River system. They have been on Mafia many years, since Dr Baumann recorded their presence in 1895.
Other island fauna includes a colony of flying foxes, several species of bushbabies, a type of pygmy shrew and a monitor lizard known as kenge. Monkeys and squirrels are also common. An official bird list kept by Kinasi Lodge records sightings of more than 120 different species, including five different types of sunbird, living in and around the hotel gardens. There are also thought to be at least five endemic species of butterfly on the island.

While Mafia makes an ideal holiday for people interested in nature and outdoor activities, its big attraction for many visitors is that it remains locked in a time warp of the early 20th Century. The population of the archipelago is approximately 40,000 living in 24 villages scattered throughout the main island, Jibondo, Juani, and Chole islands. The people live in rustic fishing communities and farming villages. The majority of the population are Muslim, but there are many Christians. Traditional religion also manifests itself in ritual dances linked to the lunar cycle.

Pemba Island

Many would say that Pemba is far more beautiful than Zanzibar, it is true that its seas are some of the loveliest in the world. The network of islands that hang like jewels in a necklace down its eastern coast create an exciting and exotic coastline that looks like something from a child's storybook, a place to dream of pirates, treasure, and castaways.  Unbeknownst to many, Zanzibar is not just one island, it is an archipelago of many islands, large and small. Pemba is the second largest island in this group, and very much a partner to Zanzibar politically. The difference between Pemba and Zanzibar however, is enormous.  

Pemba has experienced nothing of the surge in tourist development that Zanzibar has in the last decade, and this is not due to lack of beauty. Hoteliers that have tried to set up there - and many have - know that Pemba is very challenging, with huge resistance, even suspicion, at a high governmental level. There have been many failed attempts. None but the most determined, and perhaps most passionate, have survived, and at the moment that means there are just two international hotels on the whole island.

This of course makes Pemba all the more special and peaceful - not swarming with nightlife and lots of hotels. Unlike Zanibar, much of the main island is patterned with steep hills and valleys and is still covered with natural forest. Where Zanzibar is mostly coconut plantation on the coastline, here wild woodland trails right down onto the beach. The beaches are glorious and empty, and most of the many tiny offshore islands are uninhabited. Even the roads are free of traffic apart from the odd moped, or the ancient timber Pemba buses which wind indomitably around the island.  Pemba wouldn't be for everybody, it can hardly be accused of vibrancy, but it is a fantastic retreat for the world weary, and one of the most beautiful islands on the African coast.