Village visits - to do or not and which ones?

Old Jun 30th, 2008, 08:52 AM
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Village visits - to do or not and which ones?

Included in our Eastern & Southern Safari to Tanzania & Kenya is a village visit near Ngorongoro Crater.

We also have the option to visit a local Samburu or Maasai Mara tribal village for US$20 per person.
I've read varying opinions on these visits regarding the exploitation/commercialism controversies. My husband and I feel very uncomfortable being in a situation where we're bombarded by vendors aggressively pushing their wares, which I've heard is common (and possibly unavoidable). But I also realize that there may actually be a rewarding cultural experience to be gained. So, we're a bit torn on this topic. We don't want to seem like voyeurs. But we'd love to be able to meet and talk to locals and see how they live.

I'd appreciate opinions on which, if any, of these options might be considered more "authentic" and are some villages more "laid back" in their selling practices?
Thanks for any thoughts.

Happy, safe travels!
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Old Jun 30th, 2008, 09:28 AM
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Near the main road in the Ngorongoro area are 6 or so tourist bomas - actually people do live in them so what you see is real but the experience is rather rehearsed.

About $50 per car allows you to watch the Maasai sing, jump and you get a tour of one or two huts before being shown the items for sale.

Most budget-oriented outfitters stop at these and I guess the local E&S partner outfit will do the same.

I do not have a problem with this - the Maasai are under pressure in the NCA and the income is much needed.

To see a more rural village you have to go explore (many choices a few miles away from the main road)and your guide will have to negotiate with an elder. There won't be singing and jumping and someone might try to sell you a piece of jewelry that he/she is actually wearing, or ask you to exchange it for something you have. I like this experience better, but what you see of the structures are much the same as in the tourist bomas.

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Old Jun 30th, 2008, 09:29 AM
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I haven't done any village visits for the reasons that you state, but here's a women's group that I think I'd like to visit http://www.umojawomen.org/
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Old Jun 30th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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on our trip to Kenya we did 2 village visits. the first was with my sister in law (who lives in Nairobi) and a group from the embassy that was planting trees in a Maasai village. We planted 400 seedlings with the villagers and i can honestly say it was a very rewarding day. Even though after wards they did hard sell us on their wares but one of the young warriors that i had planted with gave me a gift of a bracelet and necklace from his family.

my husband and i were then on a safari on our own and did another village in Samburu with our E&S guide and did not come away with the best feeling from it, for all the reasons you stated.

although later on i felt like, gee we spent so much to go on safari and they have so little, i probably should have bought more from them.
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Old Jun 30th, 2008, 06:03 PM
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We visited a Maasai Village on our way from the Mara to Nairobi. After the visit we went out behind the village to see the crafts made by the women and men. I don't remember any hard sell to buy, we just looked, picked something out, a little bartering and we had purchased the items. We ran into very aggressive sellers at the entrance to the parks.

Julie
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Old Jun 30th, 2008, 07:34 PM
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My family and I had an incredible experience when, in Samburu, we had our private guide take us to a local school and village. It was not the village that the tourists are taken to. No one tried to sell us anything. We did, however, bring school supplies and their gratitude was worth it. It would be wonderful if you packed hard candies and supplies. Even the hotel workers appreciated the treats and looked forward to bringing them home to their children.
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Old Jul 1st, 2008, 04:03 AM
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Thanks to all of you for the information and advice.

I'll look into the possibility of trying to get our guide to take us to a village not on the typical tourist circuit.
The only thing is, I figure that the tour companies probably have an agreement set up with certain villages, and they'll take you to only that village.

I think we would want to at least go to one just to see for ourselves.
And the visit near Ngorongoro IS included in our safari.

Maybe, after visiting that one, we can decide if we want to go to another one and then just pay for the option then.

I'm assuming that you do not have to decide before the safari begins, that you just decide while there and then pay...is this the way it works?

Thanks Patty for the link.
That looks very interesting and I'll talk to my TA about the possibility of visiting.

Thanks all!


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Old Jul 1st, 2008, 07:51 AM
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You don't have to decide now. You can decide when you get there. I'm sure they have certain villages they typically take you to, so if you want to visit Umoja, for example, you should specifically request that.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2008, 06:27 AM
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We visited a Masaai village near Ngorongoro (probably one of the 6 mentioned above) in 2001. We decided to do the visit on the spot. Actually, our driver/guide suggested it that same morning. It cost 50$ for a group of 8, we were the only tourists in the village. They did the usual singing and dancing and let us walk freely around the village and take pictures, they took us into a couple of huts and we chatted with one of them that spoke english, very interesting.

At the end of the visit we went into a large hut that served as a school, and there were 10-15 children there in class with green uniforms, really cute but it totally looked staged.

As far as I remember, they didnít try to sell us anything, but I remember one of them half-jokingly offering to barter his bracelets for my camera...

All in all, a fun and interesting experience, helped us learn more about a totally different culture
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