Lake Eyasi is a huge lake that surpasses Lake Manyara in size, and its saline border expands and shrinks depending on how much rain has fallen over the year. When it’s especially dry, the water levels are extremely low, allowing the Datoga and Hadzabe tribes to actually walk across Lake Eyasi. Doum palms are distinctive and in an environment that is fairly harsh, the shade of the trees is cooling and very welcome.
The sunsets here are amazing, making Lake Eyasi a great stop for anyone planning a Tanzania safari that focuses on photography. The western flank of the Rift Valley looms impressively in the distance.
The north-eastern tip of the lake lies in the shadow of Oldeani Mountain on the edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Lake Eyasi lies in one of the oldest parts of the Eastern Rift Valley, it runs northeast -southwest for a distance of about fifty miles below the 3000-foot escarpment, which forms the south-eastern boundary of Serengeti National Park and the Maswa Game Reserve. To the southeast of the lake is the Yaida valley, which is home to the Hadzabe tribe of hunter-gatherers. Though not really a game destination, Lake Eyasi is a wild, scenically stunning area where you can get a real insight into the way of life of some of Tanzania’s interesting tribes, most notably the Hadzabe and Datoga.
For travelers with a strong interest in genuine, “off the beaten track” cultural immersion, visiting the bushmen of the Hadzabe near Lake Eyasi is a must.
THE HADZABE PEOPLE AT LAKE EYASI
Lake Eyasi is one of the few places left in Africa where tribal life remains relatively untouched by regional development. The Hadzabe have called Lake Eyasi home for over 10.000 years, and still keep their hunter/gatherer lifestyle; making them one of the last bastions of ancient African tribal life. A visit to the Hadzabe lands provides visitors with a unique and unforgettable glimpse into an ancient culture. Guests are invited to stay overnight in these tribal lands and see first-hand how these people continue to hunt and forage for their food in the face of Tanzania’s ongoing development. Watching an early morning hunting display, gathering honey, and traditional dance performances are all part of the experience. The Hadzabe live in caves and they don’t wear clothes per se; they prefer wearing small bits of animal skin to cover their private parts. Their community is endangered because commercial production has taken most of their land away. This is why any safari tour company who works with them needs to do what they can to support the Hadzabe’s valuable way of life.
A visit to their community is a cultural experience not to be missed, and it all happens against the backdrop of beautiful Lake Eyasi.
THE DATOGA TRIBE AT LAKE EYASI
The Datoga, like the Maasai, are pastoralists. However, unlike the Maasai, these pastoralists are also skilled silversmiths who supply the Hadzabe with iron tips, knives and spears in exchange for honey and fruits. Their origins lie in the Horn of Africa and they are thought to have immigrated some 3.000 years ago. They wear traditional dress decorated in colored beads and the women often have facial scarification for beauty. The Datoga blend in with their environment with outfits that are a reddish brown color, similar to the soil, with reddish patched leather dresses, necklaces, beadwork and bracelets. Another cultural feature that distinguishes the Datoga from other tribes is the decorative facial scarification with circular patterns around their eyes.
EXCITING ACTIVITIES AT LAKE EYASI
- Early morning hunt observing the Hadza men in action with their bow & arrows
- Lessons from the Hadza men and boys on using the bow and arrow
- Purchasing beaded items from the Hadza women and mini-spears and jewelry from the Datoga
- Visiting a traditional Datoga homestead run by the women
- Visiting the traditional Datoga Silversmiths in their outside workshop
- Sundowners at the lakeshore
We hope we’ve done justice to Lake Eyasi and the incredible people who call it home. If you’d like to include this beautiful area as part of your tailor-made Tanzania safari, then please feel free to start planning your next big adventure with Afrimine Tours!