RITES OF PASSAGE: Maasai Initiation & Datoga funerary rituals

with Vitor da Silva & Nikita Lamba

june 2024 (exact dates are to be released soon)

In this ethnographic expedition to Tanzania, you will have the opportunity to explore the living traditions of the Maasai and Datoga peoples. Led by two international researchers with extensive experience in working with indigenous communities across the globe, this expedition transcends the boundaries of traditional cultural tourism, offering a profound and immersive experience.

This expedition is not about taking photographs from a distance; it's about establishing meaningful rapport with local communities, experiencing meaningful interactions, and building genuine relationships with peoples who live a very different life from our own. The ethos of this expedition is that of reciprocity - a two-way exchange of knowledge, respect, and understanding.

This ethnographic expedition will intimately take you through the worldviews of indigenous peoples, where you'll have the privilege to witness and partake in sacred rituals rarely seen by outsiders. Together, we will research and produce new knowledge of Maasai and Datoga rituals.

Be an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural preservation.

🔎Introduction to Ethnographic Fieldwork Research:

*Develop the skills and knowledge required for ethnographic fieldwork research, including participant observation and qualitative data collection.

*Learn how to apply this knowledge in your life and travels!

📸Ethnographic Methods of Observation and Documentation:

*Learn how to document and interpret cultural practices, traditions, and daily life, using ethnographic research methods that respect and honour indigenous ways of seeing and experiencing the world.

📝Anthropological Storytelling and Ethical Dissemination:

*Explore the responsible and ethical ways to share the stories and knowledge gathered during your journey. Learn how to create a platform for indigenous voices to be heard!

📚The Meaning and Importance of Myth & Ritual:

Put your newly learned ethnographic skills into practice and delve into the rich worldviews of the Maasai and Datoga peoples.

🌱Different Ways of Working with Indigenous Peoples:

Gain insight into the diverse approaches employed by anthropologists when collaborating with indigenous groups, and learn how to do the same.

🌐Fieldwork Ethics:

Learn the ethical considerations that guide anthropologists and researchers when working with indigenous communities, ensuring that your engagement respects their identity, traditions, and voices. 

Are you ready to embark on a life-changing journey?



Session 1: Virtual Campfire Introductions & Expedition Briefing.
Session 2: Introduction to Ethnographic Fieldwork & Workshop on Research Ethics.

DAY 1 – Arrival and Acclimatisation

You will be received at Kilimanjaro International Airport. A transfer will take you to Rivertrees Country Inn, where you can enjoy a hot shower, relax, and acclimatize. In the evening
we will have a welcome session, expedition briefing, and introduction to ethnographic methods.

DAY 2 – Departure & Arrival to Maasai Territory

We depart in our private Land Cruiser towards Loliondo, where we will set up camp for the fieldwork. On the way, we will cross the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (UNESCO
World Heritage Site), a vast and untouched protected area teeming with the densest wildlife populations on Earth.
In the evening, we will meet the Maasai community in their village, where we will be conducting fieldwork for the next 3 days.

DAY 3 to 5 — Maasai Eunoto Ceremony

We will witness and document the 3-day rites of passage carried by young Maasai initiates who are making their transition into “Warriors”. Every evening we will have a team discussion, exchange of ideas, feedback, and preparation for the next day of intense rituals.

DAY 6 — Departure to Lake Eyasi

We depart in our private Land Cruiser towards Lake Eyasi, where we will stay by the lake shore at Kisima Ngeda Camp at Mang’ola village. We will use this day to rest and recalibrate. We will also have a Workshop on the Datoga people and the rituals that we will be witnessing and documenting the next day.

DAY 7 – Arrival at Datoga’s Territory

We depart in our private Land Rover towards the village of Matala, south of Lake Eyasi, where we will set up fieldwork camp. We will introduce ourselves to the Datoga people and witness their rituals until dark, before returning to our camp.

DAY 8 – Datoga Funerary Rituals

We will spend the full day in Datoga's village, freely witnessing and documenting their funerary rituals of passage. Be ready for a colourful, vibrant, and intense experience. In the evening we will have a team discussion, exchange of ideas, feedback, and preparation for the closing ceremony next day.

DAY 9 – Datoga Funerary Rituals (closing ceremony)

The ritual cycle is finally closed, and we will have the opportunity to engage more intimately with the Datoga people. We will have a spokesperson whom we can cross check and complement our observations. This is a unique opportunity to learn more about their rituals from the people themselves. We will then return back to Kisima Ngeda Camp at Mang’ola village.

DAY 10 – Expedition Debrief

Enjoy your morning breakfast by the Lake Eyasi, before returning to our lodge (Rivertrees Country Inn) in Arusha. We will conduct a debrief session of our expedition, where you will have the opportunity to share your observations, experience, and showcase your documented materials.

DAY 11 — Transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport. Outbound flight.

Transfer to the airport for your international flight back home.

your tour leaders

Vítor da Silva (@ethnopoet - www.vitordasilva.com) is an ethnographer, indigenous rights investigator, and storyteller. He has a background in anthropology, human rights, and is a trained criminal investigator. His fieldwork takes him to the remotest corners of the globe, where he uses his anthropological expertise and criminal investigation training to support indigenous communities in their fight against environmental destruction and cultural survival. 

Some of the communities he has worked with include the Maasai people (Kenya), Changpa nomadic people (Indian Himalayas), Maijuna people (Peruvian Amazon), Noke Kuin people (Brazilian Amazon), Bhill people (Rajasthan, India), Yukuna people (Colombian Amazon). Topics include shamanism and sacred rituals, human-wildlife conflict and forced displacement, land rights and illegal resource extraction, indigenous traditional knowledge, repatriation of tangible cultural heritage, resistance, and cultural preservation projects. 

His postgraduate thesis “Ritual, Resistance and the Right to Exist” focuses on the relationship between sacred rituals and the power of resistance among Indigenous Peoples in Brazil — an ethnographic research part of his Postgraduate degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Vítor is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) and the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER).

Nikita Lamba (@gaianarratives)

Nikita has a background in human rights advocacy and ethnographic research, having spent years researching the resilience within marginalized communities across India.

Nikita is also a film producer and an expert on indigenous issues. She currently lives in a remote Himalayan village, where she is conducting long-term research with local communities to preserve their cultural heritage.

Nikita holds a postgraduate in Investigative Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism and a Master's in Human Rights Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.

Nikita has been a Resilience Fellow with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

Tour price

Varies on the number joining the expedition:

5752 USD per person in 8 people-group

6576 USD per person for 6 people-group

7600 USD per person in 4 people-group

What's included

*Vitor da Silva & Nikita Lamba as your workshop leaders & tutors.

*Airport transfers.

*Accommodation throughout your stay in double tent occupancy.

*Meals, soft drinks, house beers & wines.

*Private vehicle throughout your stay.

*Private local guides.

*All village fees.

*Emergency medical evacuation insurance.

What's not included

*Items of a personal nature.

*Travel, medical, cancellation, and baggage insurance.

*International flight from and to your home country.

*Visa fees (please be sure to check if visas are required).

*Single tent occupancy (if you need single occupancy, extra charge will apply.