Hunters & Gatherers of Tanzania Facts – The Hadzabe Tribe (Hadza)
Occupying the northern region of Tanzania, the Hadza Community, or commonly referred to as the Hadzabe Tribe, practices along with the ancient activity of hunting and gathering.
When you travel to Tanzania you’ll not only be able to visit with the Hadzabe people, you’ll be able to see exactly how they live in the wilderness of Africa.
The Hadzabe Tribe
Known as hunter-gatherers, the Hadzabe are a native ethnic tribe that makes its home in the Rift Valley near the Serengeti Plateau and the Lake Manyara Parks. Occupying the best parts of Lake Eyasi.
With less than 1000 people in the tribe, in the last thousand years, very little has changed in their way of life. They spend their days hunting and foraging for food, setting up camp for a few weeks in one location and then moving on.
Hadzabe live off the land – they have no livestock or a permanent site they call home.
The Hadzabe don’t have a close connection to other Tanzanian tribes. They’ve been living in the same region for a few thousand years, surviving in an area that other tribes found to be infertile and inhabitable.
Because they survive almost exclusively on the meat they hunt and kill, they are the only tribe that has permission to hunt game in the area where they live. These types of wild animals include hares, dik dik, antelopes that come within their region of residence.
They are however not allowed to hunt in any of the big game reserves or national parks just as anyone else.
The Hadzabe (Hadza) Culture
Hadzabe lives in a completely different type of setup without any modern conveniences. They are skilled people, who hunt and gather what they can from the land in the rainy and dry seasons and adjust their diet accordingly.
The culture of the Hadza is unlike any other. The concept of counting is foreign to them; there are no numbers in their vocabulary.
They have no written history, instead of relying on their own words to pass stories and memories on from one generation to the next. Nor do they use a calendar or clock to track the passing of days or time.
The language of the Hadzabe is also unique. Known as a “clicking” language, you’ll need a translator to help you communicate with tribe members.
Clicking languages are only heard in Africa and maybe one of the oldest languages in the world, with the clicks being a way of transmitting language through the unique genetic lineage of a tribe or culture. Some other communities that do click include the Khoi Khoi and Khoisan of the Southern Region of Africa.
The clicks are used as consonants and sound very distinctive as they’re articulated by making a smacking or popping sound with the tongue on the roof of the mouth.
Within the tribe, there is no leadership hierarchy, they have the same status within the tribe. As nomads, they move from one location to another frequently, whenever they need to find new water holes and food.
In just a few hours, they can quickly pack up and move their camp and shelters. Without any mode of transportation, they carry their belongings on their backs. Their women can often be heard chanting, a beautiful rhythm that drifts over the camp.
At night, members of the tribe sit around the campfire, telling stories and talking or dancing. On the night of a full moon, the Hadza perform their “epeme”, a ritual dance where the men dress up as their ancestors and dance for the women and children.
Hunting and Gathering
The men are the hunters of the tribe, with the women and children gathering berries, baobab fruit, and edible tubers. As hunters, the Hadzabe are unusually adept, using a hunting style that’s amazing to see.
Using bows and arrows, with the tips dipped in poison from the Adenium shrub, the men make use of camouflage to lure their wild game.
The men are also adept at gathering honey. Working through whistle calls with an African bird that’s been named the “honey guide”, the bird guides the Hadza hunter to a beehive.
The reason behind this cooperation is that the Hadzabe collect the honey and the bird is easily able to get at the wax once the honey has been removed.
When not hunting or collecting honey, the men join the women as they forage for food. While the men forage each on their own, the women gather food in large groups. Typically, one adult male will join the women as they forage.
When the rainy season is upon them, the Hadzabe eat the honey, fruit, and roots that they’ve collected. If lucky, they may find the game to kill. During the dry season, more game becomes available, adding meat to their diet.
Visiting the Hadzabe Tribe
The Hadzabe are a nomadic tribe, which means if you travel to Lake Eyasi Lake on your own, you may not meet them at all. The best way to visit the Hadzabe tribe of Tanzania is to book with a tour operator.
They have the skills to ensure that you have a great experience. A local guide will take you to Lake Eyasi, staying with you the entire time and translating the traditional Hadzabe language as you meet these unique people.
Their language is called Hadza and is a unique language that sounds like clicks they make with their tongues. Listening to them speaking is really an experience by itself and if you try to twist your tongue like they do you will realize how different and difficult the language is from what we know.
When you visit the Hadzabe tribe, you’re experiencing their real way of life – there is no show the Hadzabe put on for the sake of tourists. This means that you’ll be completely immersed in the way they live.
When you visit with the Hadzabe you’ll be able to go hunting with the men of the tribe, seeing firsthand how these proud people have survived for years in the wilderness.
The men typically hunt at dawn and dusk, a time when wild animals approach nearby watering holes. They use bows and arrows that have been dipped in poison made from the Adenium shrub.
Hunting with the Hadza is a kind experience that will be one of the highlights of your trip.
Visiting the Hadzabe tribe in Tanzania is the ideal way for you to connect with a culture whose traditions are almost reverent in their simplicity.
Not only will you see the beautiful scenery around Lake Eyasi, but you’ll also learn how to gather fruits and berries, how to use a bow and arrow, and how to cook over an open fire. Spending a day with this tribe is an experience you’ll never forget.
The only place where you can meet the Hadzabe people is near Lake Eyasi. These can be a holiday extension from a Safari to Serengeti, Ngorongoro, or Lake Manyara. The lake is located in the northern region of Tanzania approximately an hour’s drive away from Karatu, a small town that’s considered to be the gateway to the Ngorongoro Crater.
Eerily beautiful, Lake Eyasi is found in one of the rift valleys. Home to numerous bird species, the shallow lake is one of the sources of water for the Hadzabe tribe.
The best way to get to Karatu is from Arusha, a city in eastern Tanzania. From Arusha, it’s possible to take a bus, hire a private car and driver, or book with a tour operator who will provide transportation, tours, and accommodations for you to Lake Eyasi.
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