Lake Eyasi National Park
The Lake Eyasi area is located on the floor of the Rift Valley. An escarpment rises to the north into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area while Soda Lake lies on the valley floor. The region is especially suited to exploring on foot and we do this with our local guides. It’s here that the Wahadzabe tribe lives. This dwindling population of hunter-gatherers still maintain their thousand year old traditions, albeit with great difficulty. Their language contains clicks, only one of two such linguistic patterns in Tanzania and while there are few similarities between the two, it’s likely there is a connection between Ki-hadzabe and the San or bushman language of southern Africa. A visit to this “primitive” tribe is an interesting learning experience and you can spend the morning joining them on a hunt & gather expedition. Be warned, once the hunt is on, they are fleet of foot!
We tend to recommend the Lake Eyasi area to guests who have a particular interest in tribal cultures and who really enjoy getting off the beaten track. The area is really worth considering if you are interested in cultural interaction with the Hazabe and Datoga peoples. But don't expect the heights of luxury, nor to see lots of animals and be ready for the bumpy tracks.
The main reason to come here is to visit the Hadzabe, a small tribe of hunter-gatherers who inhabit the land below the escarpment. These guys are the only remnants of the tribes which inhabited the area before the arrival of Bantu and Nilotic peoples The tribe inhabits the shores of Lake Eyasi as do the Nilotic-speaking Datoga tribe. You will visit these tribes, which will include a visit to their homesteads, learn about their way of life, animal tracking, medicinal plants, and much more. Some wildlife and a wide range of bird species can be viewed during walks around the lake, which can be arranged. They are closely related to the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Botswana and have a very similar traditional lifestyle. It is possible to visit Hadzabe settlements, spend time out hunting with the men and gathering with the women. We have always found this to be a surprisingly worthwhile experience, with a nice relaxed feel and with plenty of good photo opportunities, as you can see from the images.
Another interesting experience is to visit the Datoga silversmiths in their small village and witness first hand their traditional metalworking skills, also a very relaxed and pleasant experience.
There is also the chance to see flamingoes out on the lake itself, although in our experience this is much more hit and miss than at the other soda lakes in the region.
However it is important to realise that this is not a productive area for viewing wildlife. The lake itself is a good deal more sodorous than Lake Manyara, which means that only those animals which can get through the harsh dry season are able to live here. Also, this is not a national park, so the local people are free to hunt the wildlife, something which they most definitely do, to almost complete extermination.
It is also worth pointing out that there is extensive farming down by the lake, this area being particularly renowned for onions. Naturally this detracts from the sense of wilderness.