Top 10 Tribal Tourism Destinations

Tribal dwelling grounds are scattered across the world as isolated patches and yet they stick out prominently as pockets of human civilization that haven’t evolved over time. Where there is a tribe there is a jungle around is the normal observation. In fact, these primitive cultures prefer to stay amid nature.

The lure of a modern civilizationdoesn’t have much impact on them. Either they are too shy and afraid or suspicious of the concrete jungle or may be simply not interested in the happenings beyond their comfort zone.Here we go with the top ten destinations that would mesmerize touristswith primitive charm, an irresistible flavor that tribal life has in store for everybody:

(a)Tribal tourism in East Africa


Countries like Kenya and Tanzania offer an exotic and wonderful combination of impact of tribal customs.In Tanzania alone, more than 120 tribes exist with a pronounced display of diverse cultures. It takes the tourist in an arresting grip. He feels probably he is the last person on earth to witness a myriad mix of strange rituals and weird ways of life.

The chief tribes include the Masai herdsmen of the highlands. They are a warrior class with tall and granite-like physique. There is Hadzabe Bushmen tribe with primitive lifestyle. The Wamerus are pastoral farmers, and they are knowledgeable and prolific so far as agronomy is concerned.Primitive rituals and witchcraft are rampant. Shamans and witchdoctors enjoy a position in society. They offer explanations for an outbreak of maladies and disasters. As a natural consequence, they claim to have a clue and solution to the issues as well.The strange customs and colorful celebrations are too strong a temptation for the tourists to resist.

The Dark Continent is,in fact, a pageantry of a mix of cultural contrasts and marvels that will certainly put the tourist on the hooker.Around Lake Victoria, the tourists would find the Sukuna tribe with their legendary ‘Gobogobo’snake dance’.The dancers caught in an insane frenzy wear coils of venomous snakes and dance to the tune of hypnotic drum beats.The gathering crowd is enthralled as both the dancers and the lethal serpents turn extremely excited asthe drum beats hit a crescendo.

Within a fair package suiting your budget, thrilling safaris to the Masailandare run on a regular basis.Tourists get a rare chance to taste the colorful cultural vibes of the Masais. Fed on milk,beef and cattle blood, these peoplecome from a stock of tall,strong and valiant race. They show a burning passion in hunting wild lions with spears and shields.The most dangerous part of this spine-chilling sport is that someone brave enough holds the beast by its tail while others skewer it to the ground with spears.This spectacle is history now, happening only on rare occasions. A tourist witnessingthis death defying sport upon chance should consider himself extremely lucky!

(b)Tribal tourism in Papua NewGuinea:

Tribal tourism in Papua NewGuinea

Papua New Guinea is an exquisitely beautiful island country south of the equatorial belt just above the Northern shore of Australia. This exotic tribal country has a thick cover of greenery with distant mysterious mountains shrouded in mist.Located 160 Kms north of Australia, PNG is a land of weird customs. Way back in the past cannibalism was practiced, which was more of a ritual than a dietary preference.Every year the first week of November sees the Kundu and Kenufestivals that are a treat for tourists.

The gala takes place in the bay of Alotau located in Miline Bay Province.The chief attraction of this festival lies in the beautifully crafted canoes and enigmatic rattle of the Kundu drums. This is an age old custom among the PNG tribes.

The canoes are fashioned out of a unique brand timber. The canoes come in wonderful colors of razzle dazzle print. These patterns are a signature representation of a particular tribal area.Papua NewGuinea tribal tourism is a journey into the dawn of civilization, transportation into frozen past on a time machine. It is exciting with full support from PNG tourism bureau.

(c) Tribal tourism in the Andaman and Nicobar islands (India):

moken village

The main attraction of the Andaman Islands is the Jarawas, a primitive tribe totally cut out from civilization.Their current strength averages around 300 Jarawas who prefer to live isolated from civilization. No one dares step into their locality, and they are also never heard of wandering outside their island.The word Jarawa literally means hostile people. Their social structure and cultural practices are not comprehensible by the civilized world.

The Jarawas are not the only tribe inhabiting the forests of the Andamans. There are the Onges and Sentinelese living a primitive lifestyle.These tribes avoid outward contact as well. The population is alarmingly dwindling. While the Sentinelese population ranges between 100 -200 individuals the Onge’s are less than hundred in numbers.

The Sentinelese is a hunter gatherer type. They live on jungle fruits, plants and roots. They thrive on fish and other sea food.There are instances of softer attitude from them in response to tourists throwing fish at them. They accept the gift with a friendly gesture.The tourists can cruise across a network of waterways and lagoons dotted all over the islands. Spectacle is soothing, serenity is in the air and tribal cultures too powerful to ignore.

(d)North East India Tribal tourism:

Hornbill Festival in India.

North East India is an ideal place for tribal tourism. Lush forests, waist high grassland, beautiful tea gardens, roaringwaterfalls, and mysterious mountains, you have every fascinating natural feature that you can possibly conceive.You also have the fauna and primitive tribes that inhabit this exquisite terrain. Tribes that had once been headhunters and tribes that raided rival settlements and set up a bloodbath and mayhem.

The seven sister states of Assam,Meghalaya,Arunachal Pradesh,Mizoram,Nagaland,Manipur, and Tripura welcome you with open arms. You taste the stunning landscape, the diverse fauna and flora, the myriad tribes and their outlandish culture, their exquisite craftsmanship and adventurous lifestyle.Dibrugarh and Guwahati located in Assam would serve as a gateway to these lands of breathtaking beauty.

Major tribes include the Garos and Khasis of Meghalaya, Bodos of Assam, Wanchos,Noctes,Singfos,Adis,Apatanis,Daflas,Serdukpens,Nishis,Galongsand Abors of Arunachal Pradesh, Sema and AaoNagas of Nagaland and Kukis and Mikirs of Mizoram.

Most of these tribes had been fierce warriors in the past. Bloodshed and tribal clashes were common. Once headhunting was widespread among the Nagas and Arunachal tribes. The British had a tough time curbing this savage ritual. Still, the practice goes on but wooden human dummies have replaced the real human targets. The tradition of headhunting thrives on a symbolic plane of course and not in reality!

Not only is the carefree lifestyle of these indigenous tribes going to fascinate you. The excellent tribal handicrafts,smoking pipes,hats and finely woven drapery would enthrall you as well.

Amid jungle, there are decent tourist lodges answering the needs of a traveler. Debanbungalow in Namdapha tiger sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh is a classic example of comfort and hospitality.Naga war dance and Mizo bamboo dance are a treat to watch. Similar enchanting dance displays of Adi tribes of Arunachal would certainly fascinate the tourists.

The Nagas, Mizos and the Meghalaya tribes are predominantly Christians whereas most of the Arunachal tribes are animists and a few are Buddhists. Gaonburras and shamans enjoy a respectable position in society. They usually supervise rituals.Tattoo cult is another prominent art practiced among these tribes. It is a tourist’s delight to see a tattoo needlework with artistic deft.

(e)Tribal tourism in NewZealand:

 Maori Tattoo

New Zealand is a beautiful paradise for tourists. Mountains, pristinelakes, and stunning landscape greet tourist as does the rich tradition of the Maori culture.The existence of Maoris spans more than thousand years. They are passionate about their customs and have kept them intact, immune from alien cultural onslaught.If you trace back to the origin, the Maori’s have migrated into NewZealand from Hawaiki.

However, they are friendly people open to tourist contact.They have an organized social structure. Meeting and community feasts are held in a hall where tourists are allowed to have a glance at the social customs and interactions of Maori tribe.The wilds offer adventurous treks with local Maori guides feeding you with tribal legends,myths and lore. They enlighten you of medicinal utility of forest herbs as well.In the Central North Island NgatiWhare and Tuhoe Iwi proffer walking tours across Whirinaki forest.

(f)Tribal tourism in Borneo:

 Smiling Kadazan Dusun girl in traditional costume

An island covered with bottle green rain forests, a plethora of wildlife and volcanic mountains and a network of waterways cuttingacross the primitive woods would draw an adventurer’s interest in an instant. Borneo is located and wedged among fragments of South East Asian islands and is an ideal destination for tribal tourism.The waters are infested with marauding crocodiles and the trees standing with coils of huge Asian pythons give this destination a savage tone.

Primitive tribes inhabit this jungle paradise. They were once known for their ferocity,clan strifes and headhunting. You cannot write off thenotion of cannibalism totally. There is a chance this practice existed in the past as it did among the tribes of NewGuinea and Irian Jaya not very far from Borneo.

While referring to Borneo tribesman what comes to mind in a flash is the picture of a Dayak warrior. They have a distinct culture and a language influenced by Austro-Asian dialects.Once headhunters, the Dayaks were actively involved in tribal clan wars. One tribe assaulted the otherin a macabre bloodbath. Heads collected from decapitated foes were baked dry and preserved as trophies. The Dayaksput up a stiff resistance against the western traders as well.Tourists can have a thrilling cruise along rivers with dense forests on either side; forests that come alive with animal and bird call upon the advent of the visiting tourists.

Tourists can have a glimpse of Dayak storehouses displaying hundreds of skulls with sharp weapons brandished beside. It is a grim reminder of the tradition of headhunting that existed in the past!Tribal tourism along the thick woods of Borneo gives you the real eerie feeling that the danger might be afoot. It is a bucketful of adrenaline pushing thrill justifying worth of every dime spent.

The tourists may chooseto rummage through exotic heaps of Dayak crafts. Modern Dayaks have preserved their rich tradition. Exquisite pieces of crafts are on display and are on sale for the tourists. Kalimantan is a vibrant tribal craft trading hub.Dayak crafts range from combat shields,fruit baskets,baby carriers and fruit bowls. The pieces are decorative highlighting the artistry of these people refined through ages even in the remotest chasm of Stone Agecivilization. Well worth a buy.

(g)Tribal tourism in Amazon:

Indigenous from the Dessana tribe

The thick canopy of the Amazon rain forest shelters an amazing mix of wildlife and tribes. Nevertheless, it triggers a big tourist draw. Among several tribes inhabiting the forest, the Huaoranis are a notable clan.Their habitat spreads over an approximate area of 8000 sq miles in Oriente. Flanked between the two Amazonian tributaries of Curaray and Napo,this core tribal area will give you thrills and a sense of foreboding.

Huaoranis are fierce warriors and they are in constant battle with equally fierce neighboring tribes of Shuar and Quichua.These tribes are quite proficient in the use of spears and blowpipes. They are good jungle trackers and generally avoid outside contact.The tourists can stay at eco-lodges at the bank ofAmazon tributaries. A close exploration of the tribal culture is possible this way.

The tribes have evolved from their past hostility towards intruders. Their hunter-gatherer lifestyle has changed, and they have settled down to an occupation for a living. However, they have retained their traditional culture, dance, and music which a tourist may savor.

(h)Tribal tourism in Odisha in India:

 Bonda women. Orissa. India

The state of Odisha has a large tribal population. The variety of tribes covers a wide range with almost Stone Age culture at one end and on the other the civilized clans having rudimentary knowledge of farming techniques.Each tribe has kept their tradition and culture intact. It is a source of tourist attraction. Rituals, festivals,belief in supernatural forces are principle guiding factors that run the society. Folk dances, art and crafts,handlooms and indigenous jewelry would fascinate the tourists. Jungles infested with rich fauna would be an added bonus.

(i)Tribal tourism in Myanmar:

Former headhunter of Longwa Village, Nagaland, India.

The beauty is incomparable; the spread of flora and fauna is stunning and ethnic population has a wide range and fascinating features. The Shans, Kachins,Karens,Rakhines,Mogs,Mons,Chakmas and the Nagas are the main tribes.There are a countless sub tribes under the major tribes.

Originally belonging to the Mongoloid stock, these tribes have migrated into Myanmar from outside.Some have settled across Thai China borders and others from Tibetan border. Yet others have poured in acrossBangladesh,Nagaland and Mizoram. Essentially, the Burmese tribes are merry and colorful people whom tourists would be glad to meet. But when it comes to valor, ferocity,clan wars and vindictiveness you can count on the zeal with which they display these traits.

Life is tough, and there are frequent encounters with tigers, bears, pythons, and elephants amid deep rain forests. Sometimes the tribes win and sometimes they lose. The combat continues. Besides, the Japanese assaults during the World War II and oppression by Myanmar’s military junta have turned them into battle hardened veterans.

Indigenous paintings, craftsmanship,handlooms and bamboo toys are main tribal products.Staying in a jungle lodge or in a guest house along the banks of Irrawaddy,Sittang and Salween with a motive of exploring Mynamarese tribal culture,festivals and crafts would be a lifetime experience.Dresses are colorful with headgears and turbans suited with short waistcoats and long flowing longyis done in exquisite design.Myanmar is a country with dense rainforests, teakwood plantations,golden rice fields, enigmatic mountains, and exquisite sea beaches. It is ideally suited for tribal tourism.

(j)Tribal tourism in South Africa:


South Africa is the right destination for tribal tourism. Dense bushes, Veldts and open grass lands with a rich population of wild life have made this country a tourist’s place of rapture.Violent tribes like the Zulus and the Matabels exist.

They offered a vicious resistance to the intruding civilized world.There are Swazi’s originally belonging to the Swaziland. They have retained their tradition and culture and can be found around Johannesburg.

Legend goes that they have their origin in Central East Africa from where they have migrated.The Swazis are a fascinating tribe to meet. Their legendary reed dance and first fruit dance is a feast for the eyes.South Africa offers an excellent world standard infrastructure and accommodation for the tourists.If you have tribal tourism in mind, South Africa should feature in your priority list.

Dr Prem Jagyasi (c)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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