Location

The region of Lake Eyasi,South-west of Ngorongoro, is home to the Hadza bushmen, the last survivors of a civilisation that knows nothing of agriculture, livestock, pottery, and metals. They live by hunting with bows and arrows, and gathering wild berries and fruits. They are the last heirs of the homines sapientes who took their first steps right here, along the Rift Valley, about two hundred thousand years ago. Their way of life has remained unchanged over the millennia and they live in small wandering groups of about twenty individuals.

The Hadza people of Lake Eyasi are the heirs of the very first human beings, the kids of Olduvai Gorge and Koobi Fora who still have a symbiotic relationship with the environment, the purest example of anarchic society with no rules, no chief, no dont’s. The Hadza hunt game, gather edible plants and honey, and move from place to place whenever the weather changes, or the wild herds migrate, or they just feel like moving. Every two weeks or so, they move to a new temporary settlement. It takes less than two hours for Hadza women to build a new camp. They make huts by bending and weaving branches into round structures about six feet high, then covering them with thick clumps of long, golden grass.

Or, if the weather is very wet, the women may skip the hut building and choose a dry cave to set up a camp that includes a hearth, cooking vessels, sleeping mats made of animal skins, and tools for sharpening stones and scraping skins. Some rock caves have been used intermittently over thousands of years and are decorated with ancient rock paintings. Whether they sleep in huts, caves or in the open, the Hadza cover themselves only with thin cloths and rely on fire to keep them warm. It takes them less than 30 seconds to start a fire by rotating wooden firedrills between their palms and creating friction in a hollowed-out scrap of soft wood. Meeting them is fascinating and they are happy to take you with them in the early morning, to hunt for a few hours and experience their archaic way of life. This is an authentic experience and is not faked or staged for tourist purposes.

Other inhabitants of the region are the polygamous Datoga, herders who came from the Horn of Africa to this region following stock in search of pasture. It is possible to visit a village and a blacksmith’s shop that still uses ancient techniques to produce everyday objects, jewellery, and arrowheads for the neighbouring Hadzabe, who provide animal skins and wild honey in return.