Hadzabe

One of the most fascinating and oldest tribes in Africa, the Hadzabe, have been inhabiting the area around Lake Eyasi for many thousands of years. Situated only 50 miles from Olduvai Gorge and even closer to Laetoli where evidence has been found of habitation millions of years ago – the cradle of mankind – the Hadzabe are the last embodiment of this ancient lifestyle. The tribe is small, thought to number less than a thousand with only a few hundred still living the traditional lifestyle. The Hadzabe have been squeezed by successive waves of migration into the area from Cushitic speaking people about 2.500 years ago to the droves of Bantu Speaking herders from the West and Nilotic-speakers from Sudan. All these migrations have squeezed the range and population of Hadzabe to the levels they are now. The few Hadzabe that remain offer an incredible insight into the lifestyle of our ancestors, they have no tradition of storing food – everything for today is hunted, dug up or gathered today and consumed today. Despite this seemingly fragile existence they have far lower instances of malnutrition than many of the more settled farming and pastoralist tribes around them. Their social structure is very egalitarian with men and women having a say in day to day decisions. They are arranged in loose groups or clans consisting of a varying number of friends and family. Individuals may move between the groups. We are lucky to have built up over many years a relationship with one particular clan who now welcomes us into their lives and invites you to join in the daily hunting and gathering as well as any dances or ceremonies. Typically, you would join a group of the men going off hunting shortly after dawn – this can last anywhere from an hour to all morning depending on how successful they are. Back at camp around the endless camp fire during the heat of the day the men are constantly producing new arrows to replace those lost on the hunt whilst the women make intricate bead decorations. They are keen to share these skills with you and will patiently teach you. You may take part in some gathering as well – walking through the bush identifying the various plants – some for food and some for medicine. The Hadzabe love honey and are always on the lookout for new hives. They have help from the honey guide bird, a totally wild bird that has developed a symbiotic relationship with the Hadzabe over the past thousands of years. It leads them to a hive in the forest and they feed it some of the honey comb and grubs as a reward. They will smoke out the bees and take some of the honey, leaving enough for the hive to remain viable. The Hadzabe are the original environmentalists! The click based language of the Hadzabe bears little resemblance to other click speaking tribes and is considered to have developed independently or split many thousands of years ago. It is incredible difficult to pronounce but fun to master! Time spent with these gentle people is profoundly insightful and gives us an incredible connection to our roots and is a strong contrast to our modern hectic and controlled lives. Come and enjoy a real breath of fresh air!