Tribal tourism is an interesting trip to a rather primitive world where you are exposed to a culture quite different from your own. It is far less modern gadget based, but more dependent on the nature and the surrounding environment in the rawest form. Here you get to know whether it fits your mindset and how to plan for it factoring in necessary precautionary measures.
Tribal tourism is no longer an anthropologist’s area of interest. The appeal of this form of tourism is on the rise and infectious. It is fast drawing the attention of common tourists. Tribal tourism can be an eye-opener, an experience of extreme delight and it could be educative. What the tourist basically doing is exploring a civilization that may appear remote and outlandish, weird and outdated.
Overview of tribal tourism with special guidance on its preparations and preventive measures
Having the right mindset for tribal tourism
Here, you need to put yourself in the right frame of mind. If the tribal customs do not appeal you and you are only interested in the jungle beauties half clad in revealing apparel well stay at home. Tribal tourism is not your cup of tea.
You need to look beyond your limited views that are guided by a restrictive intellect. Once you try and succeed in understanding the philosophy that runs this apparently prehistoric society, interest will creep in. You will realize there is much more to explore in a tribal civilization than just folk dances and rituals.
Pockets of tribal settlements are scattered across the globe. These primitive societies with their apparently inexplicable cults and beliefs and their typical ways of life are not much exposed to the civilized world. On the other way round, a few initiated city-breds are acquainted with the existence of myriad tribes confined within their private world where a modernized living is simply unthinkable.
Mother Nature and her forces play a crucial role in guiding them through their day to day struggle for existence. Witch doctors and Shamans design and govern their obscure belief systems and offer explanations when deviations surface and misfortune strikes an otherwise straight and simple mode of survival although barbed with natural hardships.
Destinations for tribal tourism:
Tourists with a curiosity travel to tribal areas to get an insight into their world, which is usually nestled amid unspoiled and quaint surroundings. The environment is ruled by a startling mix of flora and fauna. The enthusiasts with a thirst to explore the tribal life are found thrilled at their rituals and conventions that may look bizarre and mostly untouched and unpolluted by the venom spewed by civilization.
Tribal populations are concentrated in awesome destinations like Papua New Guinea, the continents of Africa and South America, the Incredible India, the group of Polynesian and Pacific Islands, certain parts of East Indies like the wild and wonderful Borneo and perhaps many more exotic locales far away from civilization yet to figure in our familiar and conventional world atlas.
Prime tourism attractions:
Tourists to tribal destinations get enchanted by the beauty of art pieces and crafts fashioned out locally by tribal artists. The imagination and subtle touch that go into these local merchandises are worth a sight and certainly are worth a buy. Their sense of finesse is awe-inspiring. A number of decorative pieces are crafted by wood products and stone, shells and animal bones.
A range of products from smoking pipes, hats, headgears, bird traps simply fascinate the tourists. Finely woven handlooms and woolens are examples of brilliant tribal artistry. Wonderful crafts are designed and the dexterity is remarkable and noticed among several tribes inhabiting different corners of the globe.
The Nagas and other North East Indian tribes, the tribal population of Odisha, Gujarat, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan in India would simply stun you with their craftsmanship. The Australian aboriginals and the New Zealand Maoris are not far behind in the field of art and crafts as are the African and South American tribes.
The talent is inherent in the bloodline and perfected to precision over years of practice. Exploration, comprehension, and appreciation of tribal art form a very significant component of tribal tourism. It is both educative and fascinating!
Boomerang, the Aussie aboriginal hunting weapon is an enigmatic piece of wonder. It grips the tourist attention in a jiffy. Apart from its ability to back track along its own path to the chucker, it is an arresting piece of artifact. That kangaroos could be hurled at and hunted by a boomerang may have been a myth, but its sharp edges must have been used for skinning a fallen prey.
Exquisite pieces of hair combs are crafted out of razor sharp piranha teeth by Indian tribes settled in the depths of Amazon. All these tribes discussed are fierce warriors who witnessed and participated in several intertribal wars culminating in gore and blood bath.
Some of them were headhunters and may have been cannibal as well long time back. It is intriguing to note how the same fingers that were trained on slaughter and tricks of clan warfare could carve out relics of delicate beauty collecting appreciation from tourists on a visit.
It is normally observed that the positional advantage of tribal villages offers you an opportunity to combine wild life tourism and tribal tourism. The proximity of tribal settlements to the forested area makes it possible to watch both wildlife and tribal folks all in action.
Left to their own elements and to their typical habitat they are a treat for sure. Tribal tourism has a future ahead, and it helps contribute financial input to the tourism industry and eventually to the tribal welfare fund.
This tourism helps remove the invisible obstacles between the tribal and civilized world. The obstacles created by cultural and social disparity has created a rift between the jungle people and people who live in the urban concrete jungle. Frequent contacts with the tourists and of course the outside world have made the tribes realize that times have changed.
Their belief system and the rituals organized by the Shamans hardly work these days to conjure up a spell of rain followed by a good harvest. Contact with the modern world bridged by tourism has made them realize health, education and a decent occupation which are more important.
Ethical aspect of tribal tourism:
Exploring a tribal community in an exotic location can be exciting but to what extent it is ethical? Many tragic encounters between tourists and tribes have been reported raising the obvious question. Ancient cultures, age old traditions and unique lifestyle of tribal groups are fascinating for travelers.
It is a natural to think interactions between tribes and modern community may have a two-way beneficial impact where both communities can pick up few lessons to improve their society. But there are certain inherent risks which often get overlooked.
Tourism activities may expose the tribes to harmful pathogens for which they do not have any immunity. This may potentially endanger the entire tribal community. Poorly implemented initiatives may cause a cultural setback for the tribes where they may have to shift from a state of independence to a state of dependence. Traditional customs become nothing more than a way of entertainment.
This has been observed with indigenous tribes coming in contact with tourism and the effects surely haven’t been entirely positive for them. It should be up to the tribes to decide whether they would invite interaction with outsiders or not.
Is Tribal Tourism For You?
Tribal tourism has a wealth of marvels that could fascinate anyone. Since the early humans migrated across the world, massive evolution has taken over the human civilization. Huge strides in modernization have been stunning, and still there is a large section who prefer to dwell in caves amid untamed greenery and amid barren plains so far away from the concrete jungle.
Civilization in its latest form has no meaning in their lives. In fact, most of them are totally unaware of a contemporary world ruled by fast electronic media and space age modernity. Nevertheless, they seem to be happy in a finely woven social structure. Their cults, philosophies, beliefs and rituals decided by Shamans and witch doctors and enforced by the tribal traditions.
You would be fascinated to learn that there are several hundreds of tribes existing in remote and fascinating panoramic pockets. Basically, these are people living otherwise straight, plain and simple lives. When they confront deviations, high priests are called in for offering explanations. Normally, a series of rituals and animal sacrifices follow to drive away a malady or a spell of curse thrown by some demonic entity. The celebrations and rituals are worth watching and expose you to a culture with which you were not acquainted.
Folk music and group dances usually organized under the open sky are trademark tribal expression of euphoria. This is normally followed by community dinners and rounded up with locally brewed booze consumption. The atmosphere turns intensely charged with an ecstatic tone and wild intoxication. Nonetheless, it has a potent appeal, and you are most assuredly going to enjoy the pulse!
Book a flight to Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific or to the Democratic Republic of Congo and witness a different world frozen in time and endowed with all raw beauties of nature.The Amazon Indians of Brazil and Peru,the Garos, Khasis, Lushais and Shingfos of North East India and the Dayaks of Borneo,the Kachins and Karens of Myanmar and so many other tribes exist all scattered around the world to enchant you by their primitive and yet enthralling style of living.
Tribal craft and embroidery are often decorative pieces reflecting rich tradition and cultural attainments of these primitive human races. Necklace, bracelets and armlets crafted out of stones, metals, shells, ivory and shellac would take your breath away! You will be simply delighted to see the volume of fine artistry and dexterity that has been put into these indigenous crafts.They are well worth a buy and could always adorn your sitting room.
Smoking pipes, headgears and hats, earrings, bird-traps and fishing lines are crafted out of local raw materials for example bamboo shrubs, which grow in abundance in locality. The quality of art is commendable, and with a little honest marketing effort this merchandise would fetch good price in the international market.
You can well be a buyer and help the tribal economy get a boost. You would realize that tribal tourism is cut out for you to give you gratification in one hand and draw your attention and contribute towards the tribal upliftment on the other.
Tribal tourism contributes a sizeable amount for revamping the infrastructure for the benefit of the local population. It is a grim fact that regions inhabited by tribes are fertile grounds for breeding of a host of diseases. Lack of sense of hygiene and modern medical treatments has aggravated the situation. Your visit to these areas could help them with financial assistance. Medical treatment centers, which could not be set up due to lack of funds, can be organized from money coming from the visiting tourists.
This form of tourism would offer you bucketful of adventurous thrill. All you need is to win their confidence and be acceptable to their society for which you need honest friendly gestures from your side. You can participate and witness their hunting ventures. Be a part of their team and just watch how they mimic animal calls and bait them in within an easy shooting proximity.
The experience is stunning. The intricacies knit in the animal traps indicate brilliance and engineering skills. Just watch with all your attention focused, and you will realize the worth of every dime spent on tribal tourism is paid back!
Spending your entire vacation in a tribal settlement is both an educative and entertaining experience. Realize with delight how close they are to Mother Nature whose beauty you appreciate so much. The unspoiled environment where they dwell is healthy with an envelope of clean fresh air to breath.
The men of the forest have a secret ear into nature. They know the medicinal worth of different herbs and plant extracts that you do not know. Close company of tribal people may acquaint you with these magic potions. You may consider yourself lucky that you decided to go on tribal tour.
Tribal tourism has a unique charm of its own. You are introduced to a totally different world. Here, people do not stay in isolated islands of ego and vanity. Social interaction is very much active and alive. Pseudo culture and fake pretensions are absent. The feelings for love and hatred are very strong and expressed without hesitation.
Among tribes, you actually feel you are watching a human race in its true elements and not laced with impurity. What you have seen among city dwellers is only a sham refined by the pretence of civilization and deceit. The real feeling of enmity is always covered with a deceptive smile.
This realization is a great achievement. It was possible just because you have taken a wise decision to visit the tribal areas. You are very near to nature and the basic elements with which we all are made up of. Tribal tourism is a sojourn into time frozen in primitive culture but nevertheless it is free from spoils and the rubbish heap, a byproduct of modernization.
Exposure to a new horizon of knowledge
Tribal tourism exposes you to a vast field of education, a field so vast and live and constantly reacting to the environment that you would simply love to be a part of it though for a temporary phase. You love to absorb anything and everything related to the tribal life, and its raw and intoxicating flavor. So pack your luggage and move in the direction of some obscure island echoing primitive drum beats.
Preparing For Tribal Tourism: Some Things You Must Remember
Adequate preparation is necessary before starting for tribal tourism. Tribal settlements are usually located in remote corners where civilization ends and harsh nature rules. The going is often tough and requires you to be in your fittest health condition. As a precaution, prior to your journey, you ought to take medical clearance from a registered physician.
Prepare your medical kit
The tracks into tribal villages are fringed with dense bush and wild water bodies which are ideal breeding grounds for germs and microbes and other carriers of diseases. Tourists should carry sufficient stock of medicines and insect repellants to combat against such an environment. Upon the advice of the doctors, you may have to take preventive vaccines. Sometimes these medical precautions become mandatory, without which you will not be allowed entry into the country housing a specific tribe.
Get the permits/passes
For visiting a tribal village, you may need permits and clearances from the competent authority.Before moving ahead, make sure you have all those important official papers with you to have an unrestricted access into the tribal country.
Check your photography tools
For preserving your wonderful experience of a tribal country, you should keep your photography kit ready and in workable condition. Arrange a camera or an HD movie camera, which would certainly be a better device for taking moving shots of folk dances or a slice of the tribal lifestyle. Sufficient stock of batteries, chargers and spare lenses would complete your preparation so far as your photography passion is concerned.
How well are you mentally prepared?
Mental preparation is one of the most important preparatory steps. Tribal villages are unlikely to host the urban environment that you are accustomed to. Health and sanitation level may not be up to your satisfaction. Poverty and strange rituals could be unsettling for some. In spite of all these negative features, you need to prepare your mind to see through the shroud of unsavory mist that there exists something beautiful, original and authentic about tribal heritage.
Carry your sketching it
Prepare yourself with your sketching and painting kit if you have an artist in you. Tribal villages offer excellent subjects to be put on your canvas. So, bring along with you brush and paint sets or you will repent later for not utilizing the excellent opportunity.
Check what to eat and drink
While on tribal tourism, be careful about food and drinking water. In no circumstances should you drink water from tribal villages. There is a chance of contamination, or the water not agreeing with your body. Carry packaged drinking water with you. Same rule applies in the case of food as well. If your hotel is far away from the tribal settlement and your entire journey is tiring, there is a possibility you will feel hungry.
Carry packaged food for consumption instead of accepting whatever is dished out to you in a tribal village.If you have in mind to donate or do some charity/volunteering in the tribal village, you may carry colorful books and brightly done cards for the tribal children.
Chalk your budget
Financial preparation is an important task that has a powerful impact on your trip. It is clear you will need money every inch you move into your destination of desire. Source and application of funds earmarked for tribal tourism are the two basic issues you need to focus on. The use of funds on the trip will be largely guided by your budget planning and guidance offered by your travel agent. Normal procedure would be to set aside a certain amount of money every month as and when your salary and other sources of earnings are credited to your bank account.
Be thorough with the location and ambience
Before you start your journey into the tribal world, get acquainted with the kind of environment you will face. Carry a map for getting a fair idea of the location you are going to visit. Prior information on tribal customs, festival season, local carnivals and fairs, climatic conditions and the best season to make a trip into the tribal destination will prepare you for the trip better.
The preparation for tribal tourism is not confined to the tourists alone. It is a combined endeavor where all the stakeholders could share the preparatory exercise. There is a lot of scope to turn a tribal destination into a tourist’s dream paradise. Private investors with big money have a positive role here. With a little innovation and tourist-tribal welfare motive, they can prepare a tribal destination and the trips with brilliant and custom designed packages. Development of a world class infrastructure and a cozy range of accommodation would need money, which can be sourced from the private investors.
Preparations should also come from NGOs and other key social welfare players to set up educational institutes for the tribal children. They must be enlightened with the basic knowledge to deal with hardships of life effectively. Preparations must be taken also by these organizations for setting up health centers in tribal villages for taking care of diseases and/or health issues that may be plaguing their lives.
Do’s and Don’ts Of Tribal tourism
Tribal tourism is a wonderful mix of adventure, thrill and education. There is a possibility you meet people with a culture that might appear weird. Lifestyles may appear too difficult and full of hardships to justify an existence in the modern world. Always bear one thing in mind you should not view tribal systems from your perspective. Try to see it from their angle.
Many of the inexplicable issues would turn crystal clear. The most important thing is since you have been groomed through a civilized life, you might on your visit to a tribal village instinctively and inadvertently do something that might harm tribal sentiment. Your actions refined by a city bred life might stir fury among indigenous people.
There are a set of do’s and don’ts to be followed in order to avoid mistrust and enmity between the tourists and tribes. These warnings, of course, modified by situation and circumstance of the case would ensure you a gratifying tribal tourism.
The following guideline might help:
- Do not venture into restricted tribal areas.
- Always hire a trained and experienced guide while exploring tribal communities. Do not deviate from their instructions.
- When you are in a tribal village among natives surrounding, you do not start clicking your camera right away. It may be against local custom and people might take it as an offence. If you want photographs of the tribes, ask your tour guide. He may take an approval from the chief only after which you may go ahead.
- Always wear a friendly smile on your face. Scornful facial expression and showing distaste at outlandish ambiance around you might put you into jeopardy.
- Headgears, beads, outfits, weapons, body piercings and tattoos may arouse your inquisitiveness. You may appreciate them with your eyes. Do not touch them.
- Do not offer food or any kind or beverage or cigarettes to the tribes you meet. Seek permission from your guide in case you have made up your mind to hand over a piece of souvenir.
- Do not express your dissatisfaction or ridicule any tribal ritual no matter how funny might it appear.
- In case of tribal communal feasts where you are a guest, you may be in a dilemma whether to consume the food and drink offered. Best is to follow the tour guide’s advice. Let him handle the situation.
- Tribal areas might be infested with germs or the other way round you may import germ to tribal settlements as well. Take proper vaccines prior to tribal tourism.
- Be on the safe side and do not drink water from tribal villages to quench thirst. Better carry your own packaged drinking water.
- Do not be too adventurous with the tribes. Do not follow them into the forests in their forages unless you are invited.
- Do not dump trash into the tribal areas. You have no right to disrupt the local ecology. Leave your footprints only and not the garbage.
- In case you find museums showcasing tribal art and craft and souvenirs of their cultural heritage, visit one by paying the entry fee. On one hand you are enriching your stock of knowledge and on the other the entry fee paid would help boost the local economy and proper upkeep of the museum.
- You must take the same stand in case you have an opportunity to view tribal folk dances and music organized on a commercial scale. Pay the fee and attend the function. Explore the heritage and help support the tribal economy.
- When you are in the company of indigenous tribes, do not feast upon bottles of hard drinks and puffs packets of cigarettes which you may have carried with you. This may have a negative impact on the general environment both from health and moral angle.
- Tribal areas may require special tourist visit permits. Prior to your visit ensure you carry such pass.
- Many tribal zones are declared restricted. Stay away from such restricted area to avoid punishments and heavy fines.
- Do not engage in hunting wild life and birds in jungles surrounding tribal belts. It is a punishable offence.
- In many tribal pockets, the population is dwindling in size and the members are facing extinction. Refrain from any act that would speed up the process.