EPIC ROAD'S SAFARI BLOG

Entries in African safari (2)

Tuesday
Jul222014

Top Ten Most Interesting African Tribes (That You Can Visit!)

A visit with the world's most ancient tribal civilizations is a highlight of any safari to Africa. The traditions these tribes still practice today were created by the forefathers of all of humanity, and the chance to explore their music, language, traditional garments and ancient cultural ceremonies gives travelers a rare glimpse into our collective history and shared origins.

Suri: This southwestern Ethiopian tribe is comprised of about 30,000 members.  Body decoration is an important marker of beauty in Suri culture.  During adolescence, most girls have a plate inserted in their bottom lip as an indicator of attractiveness. Scars are also considered desirable, and the Suri practice scarification rituals to create as many as possible. 

Himba: These northern Namibian tribespeople are semi-nomadic and pastoral. They primarily breed cattle and women typically perform the physical tasks, while men are responsible for political and legal matters. Due to the little clothing they wear, the women are known for the thick mixture they use as sun protection, called ‘otijze’ which is made of butter fat and ochre.

Hadzabe: Out of 1,000 tribespeople, about 400 Hadzabe still thrive as hunter-gatherers and live according to ancient nomadic practices. Oral tradition influences many of their lifestyle choices, such as the custom of sleeping under trees in the dry season, following age-old stories about the habits of their giant, hairy ancestors called the Akakaanebe. Genetically, the Hadzabe are not closely related to any other tribe and are located in north-central Tanzania on reservation lands.

Samburu: The Samburu, or ‘Lokop’ as they call themselves, are distant relatives of the Maasai, and reside in north central Kenya. They operate as a gerontocracy, and their leaders are the eldest members who are believed to have the ability to curse younger tribespeople. The Samburu are extremely religious, however, and consider their God Nkai to be the ultimate source of punishment—the tribal elders simply do his bidding.

Karo: Between 1,000 and 3,000 Karo people live on the Omo River in Ethiopia, depending on it for their livelihood. Annual flooding makes the area’s biodiversity rich and therefore plentiful for collection, which the Karo use to their advantage. 

Mursi: Surrounded by mountains and the Omo River on either side, the Mursi live in one of the most isolated areas of Ethiopia. Men and women undergo many rites of passage during their lifetime to prove themselves to their tribe, such as ‘thagine’, a violent duel between men. The Mursi are religious, believing there is a force bigger than themselves which materializes in the form of something found in the sky, like a rainbow or a bird.

Hamar: As of 1994, there were over 45,000 people in southwestern Ethiopia who identified with this tribe. As a semi-nomadic people, they move their cattle to greener pastures and live in round huts assembled nearby. The Hamar follow special marriage rituals, such as the well-known bull-leaping ceremony, during which a man must leap over a line of cattle to gain the right to marry, have children, and own livestock.

Maasai: The Maasai are known for their friendliness and eagerness to welcome visitors to their villages in Kenya and Tanzania. Despite living in close proximity to modern amenities, the Maasai have resisted a great deal of outside influences and have been able to maintain many of their traditional values. When warriors come of age, they are expected to fulfill certain tasks such as the adumu, which involves ten or more days of singing and dancing.

San Bushmen: Known as Bushmen, the San people span across Southern Africa, including Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These indigenous hunter-gatherers prefer to be identified using the names of their individual nations, because each holds a unique identity. They speak a variety of languages, which involve a clicking sound.


Nyakyusa: The Nyakyusa people, who live in southern Tanzania and northern Malawi, believe they descend from Nyanseba, a Nubian Queen who was abducted by herdsmen who turned her reign into an emperorship. To honor her, Nyakyusa boys take their mother’s clan name, while girls will take their father's.

Tuesday
Apr012014

Top Ten Music Festivals in Africa

African Safari Music FestivalsMusic speaks volumes about a nation’s identity, and there is no more entertaining way to explore a culture than to dive deep into the rhythm and groove to which it moves.  This is especially true in Africa, where music and dance infuse the cadence of life at all levels, and nowhere is this more evident than in the number of vibrant music and cultural festivals held throughout the year.  Dates vary from year to year, but many are well worth checking out during your African Safari.  So here is the low down on some of our favorites, listed chronologically, to better help you plan. 

  • Festival sur le Niger – Mali (early February): For the first week in February the historic city of Segou, Mali serves as the central hub for Francophone African music, art and culture.   This eclectic festival was originally envisioned to celebrate the distinctive music and dance of West Africa, but has now evolved to also offer a series of workshops and seminars in which musicians, artists, and intellectuals join together to discuss, debate and connect—an unbeatable schooling in the creative forces that shape contemporary African culture, delivered directly by the artists themselves.   
  • Sauti za Busara – Zanzibar (mid February):  One of Africa’s longest standing annual festivals, this landmark event is held in a world heritage site—the Old Stone Fort in Zanzibar’s historic district—and is a can’t-miss a for connoisseurs of African culture.  First founded to celebrate the music and dance East Africa, Sauti za Busara has since expanded its roster to include international artists, and actively encourages collaboration between performers from all parts, both on-stage and off.  No wonder many consider it to be the “friendliest music festival on the planet.” 
  • Asa Baako – Ghana (early March):  Held on beautiful Busua Beach in Western Ghana, Asa Baako is an authentic celebration of African soul, covering generations of music and dance, from 1970’s Afro-funk all the way to modern hip-hop and house.   And you definitely can’t beat the locale:  a tiny, tropical fishing community where guests can groove right alongside the locals—who may even teach you a few of their own moves! 
  • Maitisong Festival – Botswana (late April):  The Maitisong Festival is held in the Botswana capital Gaborone, and offers a slightly more sophisticated urban cultural experience.  Classical gospel choral performances in venues like the National Museum and Anglican Cathedral are scheduled alongside traditional music, dance and theatrical productions, and delicious street food is available in parks and outdoor venues throughout the city. 
  • Kigali Up – Rwanda (mid July):  In just a few short years Kigali Up has become an important platform for Rwandan artists and musicians to step up and shine, and show the world that the country is entering an exciting new phase of positive growth and development.  While the festival is primarily for Rwandan artists, performers from other parts of Africa and beyond now clamor to take part—no doubt to help celebrate Rwanda’s resurgence, and to connect with the close to 4000 attendees who gather every year to sing out on the country’s behalf.   
  • Lake of Stars Music + Arts Project – Malawi (late September): After a few years hiatus, Lake of Stars is back in full force in 2014 to celebrate the warmth, vitality and low-key exuberance that epitomize the very soul of this tiny African republic.  The Lake of Stars festival is also held on the gorgeous shores of Lake Malawi—one of Africa’s largest and most beautiful—providing a dazzling natural backdrop against which to watch some of West Africa’s top artists perform. 
  • Delicious Festival – Johannesburg, South Africa (early October): Delicious is where foodies and music lovers come to play—and the result is one of the most popular fusion festivals in the entire world.   Held on a rolling equestrian estate outside of Johannesburg, festival goers can stroll the beautiful grounds and sample artisanal cuisine from one of the many restaurants and food stands that pop up for the course of the event, or else enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch while listening to a the line up that includes some of the top entertainers from Southern Africa.   
  • Rocking the Daisies – Cape Town, South Africa (late October): This 3-day music and lifestyle festival on a wine estate outside of Cape Town takes its name to heart, creating a world class, yet low impact, experience that also celebrates the ecological innovation and green design.   Activities surrounding the event feature everything from a local artisans market, to creative outdoor installations, and the festival is considered a premier space for passionate and progressive enthusiasts of global culture to gather and share their love for art, the environment and indie music.   
  • Lagos Jazz Series – Nigeria (late November/early December): This festival is a relative newcomer to the world circuit, but in the world of jazz it has already made its mark.  In just three years the event has attracted a collection of extraordinary artists—think Pat Methany, Brandford Marsalis and Marcus Miller—that rivals the line up at some of the greatest global music festivals, and as a result has attracted the attention of media and music enthusiasts worldwide.  One can only expect that, each year, the pool of talent at Lagos will just continue to grow.   
  • Vic Falls Carnival – Zimbabwe (Dec.  29-31):  Usher in the New Year with one of the most high-energy festivals Africa has to offer:  three consecutive days of music, fun and non-stop activity, featuring the top artists of southern Africa and revelers from around the world.  The adventure begins with an evening party on a vintage steam train and ends with a carnival of over 5,000 guests, dancing to the beat of some of Africa’s best music.   Those in need of an extra rush can also sneak in some white water rafting, gorge swinging or bungee jumping—all before the evening’s festivities begin.