The Datoga People of Tanzania

Datoga blacksmith and apprentice. Photo by kiwiexplorer. Used with permission through a Creative Commons license.

Ujuzi’s safaris to Tanzania often include visiting the Datoga people near Lake Eyasi, who are famous for their blacksmithing skills. Men do metal work over open fires, crafting arrowheads, spears, knives and jewelry for themselves and their friends, as well as to sell to other tribes, such as the Hadza. Visitors get to watch as craftsmen transform rough metal into a useful object using just hot coals, bellows, and a few tools.

The bronze and gold bracelets that the blacksmiths make are worn by Datoga women, who use them not only for decoration, but also to make music! They hit them together to accompany group singing.

Datoga woman. Photo by Tim Knight. Used with permission through a Creative Commons license.

One thing that stands out to many visitors is that many Datoga have beautiful circular patterns tattooed around their eyes and on their cheeks. Handmade clothes of beaded red leather are traditional, but nowadays it’s more common to wear black or patterned cloth and modern Tanzanian clothing.

In addition to blacksmithing, the Datoga culture centers on herding cattle. They may also raise goats, chicken and other livestock; over the past decades they have started planting grains and vegetables, as well. Men do the herding while women do most of the childcare and cooking, cleaning, and collecting firewood and water. One man may have multiple wives.

Most Datoga speak only their own language, with just 5 percent bilingual in Swahili. Translators will make sure you  understand what’s going on—and that your Datoga hosts understand you—so that you get the most out of your visit.

Would you like to know more about the Datoga and other Tanzanian cultural groups who adhere to their traditional lifestyles? The Warriors Organization is a great resource for learning more.

Ebola Update

In the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, I have received questions about the safety of travel to Africa. Here are the facts:

  • There are no reported cases of Ebola in East Africa or southern Africa, the areas where Ujuzi offers safaris. Travel in these areas is unaffected by the outbreak.
  • East Africa and South Africa are as far from the affected area as London. There are fewer direct flights from the affected area to East Africa than to Europe.
  • According the World Health Organization, “Transmission of Ebola requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animal, all unlikely exposures for the average traveler.”
  • In each of the countries where Ujuzi offers safaris, health care workers and points of entry are being highly vigilant. This will enable prompt detection, notification and appropriate management of any suspected cases.

If you are able, please help fight the outbreak by donating to Doctors Without Borders, one of the leading agencies working to stop the Ebola epidemic.

Ujuzi is committed to ensuring that our safaris remain as safe and carefree as possible. We offer safaris in eastern and southern African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, and Mozambique.

Conservancies Protect Kenyan Wildlife

Giraffes at Mara North Conservancy. Photo taken on an Ujuzi safari to Kenya.

Anthropologist Kathleen A. Galvin and Robin Reid, director of the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University, recently published a fascinating article in The Huffington Post about the growth of private conservancies in Kenya and the benefits that they’re bringing to wildlife and humans.

Unlike parks and reserves, which are managed by local governments and the Kenya Wildlife Service, conservancies are privately owned land set aside for conservation purposes. The land is usually owned cooperatively by local pastoralists or a nonprofit corporation, and they manage the land so that it can support both wild animals and grazing herds. Conservancies typically receive income for land and wildlife management through visitor fees and rent paid by lodges located on the land.

Conservancies are great conservation model because residents benefit in tangible ways from protecting wildlife. They are less likely to view wildlife as a hassle or as a threat to their livestock and prosperity. Instead of being pushed off of their land to make way for wild animals, they are able to stay in their homes and steward the land.

Interested in visiting or wildlife conservancy? There are over 200 in Kenya alone, and many more in other parts of Africa.  The Mara North Conservancy in the Masai Mara region has proven to be a favorite destination among Ujuzi’s travelers to Kenya. Contact me for more information.

Featured Lodge: Okonjima Bush Camp

namibia5Situated at the base of the Omboroko Mountains in Namibia, Okonjima Bush Camp is home to the AfriCat Foundation, which runs the largest cheetah and leopard rescue and release program in the world. In the last 17 years, more than 1,000 of these predators have been rescued, and more than 85 percent of those have been released back into the wild. Okonjima also has three domesticated lions – Matata, Tambo and Tessie – who were born in captivity and rescued by AfriCat. They have become long-term residents and can often be heard in the mornings before guests leave the lodge.

Activities at Okonjima Bush Camp include leopard tracking by vehicle, a visit to the cheetah welfare project, and a visit to the night hide where nocturnal animals such as porcupines, caracals, honey badgers and leopards may be seen.

okonjima2 okonjima1

Living accommodations consist of nine luxurious rondavels. The thatched chalets are linked by walkways to a main area where meals are taken and activities begin. Each rondavel is completely private and the green canvas ‘walls’ can be rolled up to give you a 180-degree view, allowing you to watch life in the bush while relaxing in total comfort and safety.

Energetic early risers will enjoy the guided walking trails, which offer excellent opportunities for bird watching—over 300 bird species have been identified here. Two spacious animal-viewing hides are located within easy walking distance of the lodge, and another is situated at a recently established vulture feeding area just a short drive away.


Contact Ujuzi to learn more about safaris in Namibia!