5 iconic and amazing tribes of Africa

Top 5 exotic tribes of Africa, where any tourist can safely go

Top 5 exotic tribes of Africa, where any tourist can safely go

In remote corners of our planet still live people who lead an almost primitive way of life. Savages hunt, gather and fish. Many of them do not even wear clothes.

Most of these backward tribes live in Africa. Often the aborigines of the hot continent are openly aggressive and hostile to the neighboring indigenous peoples, as well as practicing violent rituals. However, some of these tribes are friendly to foreign visitors. In this piece, we will discuss five indigenous peoples of Africa that travelers can visit and feel relatively safe.


The Surma (or Suri) are an ethnic group living in Ethiopia with about 19,000 people. About 1,000 more inhabit the lands of South Sudan. The main occupation of the people is cattle breeding, but in recent years it has been joined by tourism.

The tribesmen have learned how to make money on tourists. Photo: Igor Kruglikov/nat-geo.ru

The tribesmen have learned to earn money from the tourists. Photo: Igor Kruglikov/nat-geo.ru

Suri women are easily recognized by the so-called lip disc, which they are inserted in childhood. Gradually, as they grow older, it increases in size. In order to insert such a “decoration”, girls have their lower teeth removed. In addition, aborigines love tattoos and specially make themselves artistic scars. However, these are not all the cruel traditions in the understanding of modern man, which the tribe follows to this day. For example, the Aborigines perform stick fights and dangerous games with bulls. Both of these rituals, as a rule, are not without bloodshed.

Women wear a lipstick as jewelry. Photo: Alfred Weidinger/flickr.com

The women wear a lip disc as jewelry. Photo: Alfred Weidinger/flickr.com

The Surma do not have a good relationship with their neighbors. The Nyangat people are considered a longtime enemy of the tribe. There are frequent conflicts between the tribes that involve weapons. The natives steal each other’s livestock and occasionally trespass on enemy territories. Nevertheless, being so violent, they are friendly enough to welcome foreign travelers. But no matter how hospitable this or that African tribe is, you should visit the savages only as part of a tour group and accompanied by an experienced guide. The most important thing when visiting any Suri village is to please their spiritual leader.


The Mursi is another Ethiopian tribe of pastoralists, in which women decorate their faces with lipstick. By African standards, these people live well. They never have problems with food, while some neighboring ethnic groups live on humanitarian aid or suffer from starvation on the brink of extinction.

The earlobes of the mursi are also extended. Photo: Elena Bobrova / nat-geo.ru

Mursi earlobes are also stretched. Photo: Elena Bobrova / nat-geo.ru

The Mursi have a curious peculiarity: they are practically not afraid of tsetse flies – the carriers of various diseases. And all thanks to a peculiar “inoculation”. From infancy, the natives implant tsetse larvae under their skin. Such procedures leave terrible marks on the bodies of the natives. In addition, the Mursi also have special artistic scarring.

The natives have developed a kind of “inoculation” so as not to get infected by the insects. Photo: Jens Klinzing/wikipedia.org

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In recent years, the Aborigines have been frequented by tourists who want to see how the savages live. The Mursi, in turn, have come up with ways to make money from curious travelers. So, those wishing to be photographed with the tribe’s inhabitants have to pay for the picture beforehand. Guides and experienced tourists are advised to go to more remote villages where people are not yet tired of the attention of foreigners and not spoiled by the gifts. Travelers bring gifts to placate and help the natives. Sometimes enough set of razors to become the guest of honor. In addition to gifts, it is important to demonstrate your peaceful and friendly attitude.


The Hamer (or Hamar) are an ethnic group inhabiting southwestern Ethiopia. In addition to cattle ranching, the tribe is a beekeeper and grows pumpkin, corn, beans, and sorghum on small plots of land. Vegetables and cereals are their main diet. In addition, sorghum is used by the Aborigines to brew their local beer.

The women of the tribe themselves insist on being beaten. Photo: Pascal Mannaerts / nationalgeographic.com

The tribal women themselves insist on being beaten. Photo: Pascal Mannaerts / nationalgeographic.com

There are a number of rituals in the Hamer culture, and some of them are quite brutal. For example, after the initiation ceremony of young men, the women of the tribe are beaten. During such a rite, girls who want to participate first perform a ritual dance, which puts them in a state of ecstasy. Then the young men begin to whip them with hard rods. These actions leave deep wounds on the women’s bodies.

But the girls are not at all worried about their scarred backs, and on the contrary, they deliberately show them to everyone. This brutal ritual is a kind of flirting. The girls do this to show how patient wives they can turn out. Aborigines believe that the stronger and more often the husband beats his wife, the more he loves her. So the women are proud of their scars, showing them to their fellow tribesmen.

The girls purposely tuck their shirts up to show everyone the scars on their backs. Photo: kiliman.info.

Girls intentionally lift up their shirts to show their scars on their backs. Photo: kiliman.info

Tourists often come to see the life of the natives. Just like the surma and mursi, the Hamer people have learned to benefit from the visits of foreigners to their villages.


The Maasai are one of the most famous, recognizable, and studied peoples of Africa. The Aborigines inhabit northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. It is not difficult to recognize them: they wear red belted clothes, reminiscent of women’s dresses or outfits of the ancient Romans, on which they throw a bright checkered plaid. And Maasai always carry a spear. Some representatives of the people specially stretch their earlobes, which is considered very beautiful. In addition, they differ from most other aborigines of the African continent by their tall stature.

Tribal women wear longer dresses than men. Photo: Vladislav Belchenko/nat-geo.ru

Women of the tribe wear longer dresses than men. Photo: Vladislav Belchenko/nat-geo.ru

Despite their warlike temperament and frequent conflicts with neighboring peoples over territory, the Maasai are quite friendly with tourists. Travelers come to see the people in bright clothes and their famous dances – high jumping, which few can repeat.

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Tribe men are competing to see who jumps higher. Photo: Graham Jackson/pinterest.ru

The men of the tribe compete with each other to see who can jump higher. Photo: Graham Jackson/pinterest.ru

The Maasai themselves eat mostly meat and milk, sometimes mixing it with the blood of cows. But for tourists, the Aborigines have learned to cook food familiar to man from the “big world”. And they do not build houses for foreigners coming to them out of manure, which they use for their homes. Despite the fact that they often have to communicate with people from the “big world”, many tribes still manage to maintain a traditional way of life.


The Datoga are a people who live in the central regions of Tanzania. The Aborigines lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle, follow the lunar calendar, and engage in leather crafts. Although many of the people are Muslim and Christian, they also worship various deities.

The Datoga people are very peaceful. Photo: ru.oddviser.com

The Datoga people are very peaceful. Photo: ru.oddviser.com

Aborigines differ from other ethnic groups inhabiting Tanzania by their peacefulness. Towards tourists, they are also friendly and hospitable. If a foreigner really likes the chief, he may even offer the traveler to marry one of his daughters. Tourists come to the Datoga to see their life, life and dances. Experienced travelers advise to try the local honey beer, which has an unusual and memorable taste.

Not all tribes are not willing to contact with people from the outside world. There are such savages who are hostile to all outsiders and will not let anyone on their land. It is better not to visit such tribes .

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Africa’s Amazing Tribes

Africa is perhaps the most contrasting and mysterious of the 5 continents of our planet. Explorers and tourists from all over the world are attracted not only by its natural and animal diversity, but also by its many tribes and nationalities, of which there are about 3,000. The amazing tribes of Africa with their non-traditional for the Slavs way of life arouses enthusiastic interest, and incomprehensible traditions often scare rather than surprise.


This is one of the most violent and unfriendly tribes in Africa, whose members greet strangers with batons or firearms, which are supplied from Somalia. Another characteristic feature of the Mursi is the unbearable stench emanating from all its members. It is associated with the homemade ointment with which they rub their bodies in order to protect themselves from poisonous parasites and insects.

Mursi tribe

Men often put up fierce fights among themselves for leadership. If such a showdown ends in the death of one of the participants, the survivor has to give the family of the deceased his wife in compensation. It is customary for men to adorn themselves with fang earrings and horseshoe-shaped scars, which are applied when an enemy is killed: the symbols are first carved on the arms, and when there is no room left on them, other body parts are used.

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The Mursi women look very peculiar. A slouching back, sagging belly and chest, and instead of hair on the head a headdress made of dried twigs, animal skin and dead insects are an amazing description of a typical representative of the Mursi fair sex. Complementing their image is a clay disc (dabi) inserted in the incision on the lower lip. It is up to the girls to decide whether to cut the lip or not, but brides without such an ornament are paid a much smaller ransom.

Women of the Mursi tribe


The entire Dinka people of Sudan number about 4,000,000. Their main occupation – cattle breeding, so even from childhood, boys are taught to treat animals with care, and the number of cattle is measured by the welfare of each family. For the same reason, Dinka girls are valued more than boys: if they marry, the bride’s family gets a whole herd as a gift from the groom.

Dinka women

The Dinka appearance is no less surprising: men usually do not wear clothes and adorn themselves with bracelets and beads, and women wear clothes only after marriage and are often limited to a goatskin skirt or a beaded corset. In addition, these people are considered one of the tallest in Africa: the average height of men is 185 cm, and for many it exceeds the mark of 2 m. Another feature of the Dinka is the intentional scarring, which is practiced even in children after a certain age and by local standards adds to the attractiveness.

Members of the Dinka tribe next to a European


Central, East and South Africa are inhabited by numerous representatives of the Bantu people, the number of which reaches 200 million people. They have a peculiar appearance: high growth (from 180 cm and above), dark skin, stiff spirally curled curls.

Women of Bantu tribe

Bantu are one of the most amazing and most developed peoples of Africa, among which there are representatives of politics and cultural figures. But despite this, the Bantu have managed to preserve the traditional color, centuries-old traditions and rituals. Unlike most ethnic groups inhabiting the hot continent, they are not afraid of civilization and often invite tourists to their tours, which provides them with a good income.

Bantu men


The Masai are often found on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, which holds a special place in the beliefs of this amazing tribe. Its representatives considered themselves the supreme people of Africa, the true beauties and favorites of the gods. Because of this conceit, they often treat other nationalities with contempt and are not shy about stealing animals from them, which sometimes leads to armed conflicts.

Masai tribe

The Maasai live in a dwelling of branches covered with dung, often built by women. They feed mainly on milk and animal blood, and meat is a rare guest in their diet. When there is no food, they puncture a cow’s carotid artery and drink blood, and then they seal the place with fresh dung to repeat the “meal” after a while.

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The distinctive beauty mark of this amazing tribe is the retracted earlobes. At the age of 7-8, children are pierced with a piece of horn and gradually enlarged with pieces of wood. Through the use of heavy jewelry, earlobes sometimes hang down to shoulder height, which is considered a sign of supreme beauty and respect for its owner.

Masai tribe women next to a European


In the north of Namibia live the original Himba tribe, whose members carefully guard their way of life from outsiders, practically do not wear modern clothes and do not use the benefits of civilization. In spite of this many inhabitants of the settlements are able to count, write their own name and speak some phrases in English. These skills come from the government-organized mobile elementary school, which are attended by a large proportion of Himba children.

Himba tribe

Appearance is an important part of the Himba culture. Women wear soft leather skirts and adorn their necks, waists, wrists and ankles with countless bracelets. Every day they cover their bodies with an ointment of oil, plant extracts, and crushed volcanic pumice, which gives the skin a reddish hue and protects the body from insect bites and sunburns. When they scrape off the ointment at the end of the day, the dirt comes off with it, which also helps maintain personal hygiene and cleanliness. Perhaps because of this amazing ointment, Himba women have perfect skin and are considered some of the most beautiful among the tribes of Africa. Using the same composition and other people’s hair (often the father of the family), women build their hair in the form of numerous “dreadlocks”.

A Himba woman


The Hamar are among the most amazing tribes in Africa and one of the most friendly in Southern Ethiopia. One of the most famous Hamar customs is the initiation as a man after reaching the age of majority, for which the young man has to run from side to side on the backs of bulls 4 times. If after three attempts he fails to do so, the next rite can be performed only after a year, and if he is successful, he receives his first property (a cow) from his father and can look for a wife. It is noteworthy that the young men undergo the rite in the nude, which symbolizes the childhood they are saying goodbye to.

initiation of a boy into a man in the Hamar tribe

The hamar have another, rather cruel ritual in which all willing girls and women can participate: they perform a traditional dance in front of the men and receive in return blows on their backs with thin rods. The number of scars left is the main object of pride, an indicator of a woman’s strength and endurance, which increases her value as a wife in the eyes of men. At the same time, hamaras are allowed to have as many wives as they are able to pay ransoms (dauri) for them in the form of 20-30 heads of cattle. But the highest status remains for the first wife, which is confirmed by wearing a collar with a handle made of metal and leather.

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Women of the Hamar tribe

On the border of Sudan and South Sudan live the amazing Nuba tribe, which has unusual even for Africa family customs. At the annual dance girls choose future husbands for themselves, but before receiving this status, a man is obliged to build a house for his future family. Until then, young people can only meet secretly at night, and even the birth of a child does not entitle them to the status of a legitimate spouse. When the house is ready, the girl and the boy are already allowed to sleep under the same roof, but by no means to eat. This right is only given to them after a year, when the marriage has passed the test of time and is considered official.

Nuba tribe

A distinctive feature of the Nuba was for a long time the absence of any division into classes and monetary relations. But in the 1970s, the government of Sudan began to send local men to work in the city. They returned with clothes and a little money, so they felt really rich among their fellow tribesmen, which made others jealous and allowed theft to flourish. Thus, the civilization that has reached the nubas has done them far more harm than good. Still, there are some among them who continue to ignore the benefits of civilization and adorn their bodies only with numerous scars rather than clothing.

The Karo are one of the smallest African tribes, with no more than 1,000 people. They are predominantly pastoralists, but the men may spend long months hunting and even working in nearby towns. The women during this time have household chores to do and another important craft, pelting.

Karo tribe

Members of this tribe can top the list of the most amazing craftsmen in Africa in terms of decorating their bodies. For this purpose they cover themselves with ornaments made with vegetable paints, chalk or ochre, use feathers, beads, shells and even beetle elytra and corn cobs as ornaments. At the same time the male half of the population dyes much brighter, as it is important for them to have the most intimidating appearance. Another notable detail in the men and women of the karo is the pierced lower lip, into which they put nails, flowers and simply dried twigs.

Karo teenagers

This is only a small part of the unusual peoples living on the African continent. Despite the global spread of the benefits of civilization, the lifestyle of most of them is fundamentally different from that of modern man, not to mention the attire, traditions and unique system of values, so each of the peoples of Africa can be considered amazing in its own way.

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