Study Abroad in Tanzania

Submitted by Karla Dann on the 2024 Winter ENWC program in Tanzania …

Week 1

Tanzania has been an adventure from the very start, upon arrival we found out that our bags had not made it from our layover in Amsterdam. This was a major problem since most of our camping gear we needed for the next eight days was in those bags. Being flexible and staying positive really helped us all get to know each other and bond as a group. We have had the privilege of observing dozens of beautiful birds and many incredible mammals in their natural environments. We visited Arusha National Park, where we saw Jackals, Mongoose, Zebra, Monkeys, Gazelle, Giraffes, and Elephants.  It’s been incredible to have the opportunity to travel to such an amazing location with twenty-one like-minded people. We had the honor of joining our Maasai hosts as they slaughtered, processed, and prepared us a traditional goat dinner. The highlights so far have been the amazing food that has been prepared by our hosts and seeing elephants up close for the first time. 

Week 2

This has been a week that I will never forget. Tarangire National Park was everything I hoped it would be and more. We saw so many incredible animals that I never imagined I would get the privilege to see in person, in their natural environment. It was fascinating to see how they went about their day and interacted with both the environment and the other animals they share it with. Next, we traveled to the Nou Forrest Reserve in the highlands of Tanzania. The drive to Nou was beautiful, and winding our way into the mountains was a view of Africa that I was not expecting. It is pretty chilly and very wet; it has been raining quite a bit and most of our belongings are soaked. Our hosts were from the Iraqw tribe. They could not have been more kind and inviting. We took a gorgeous, challenging hike with one of the villages former rangers, and got to visit his village. We met with some of the village elders, who answered our questions and showed us many aspects of their daily life. A few of the girls in our group taught some of the Iraqw kids how to do the Cotton Eye Joe dance, which was quite the feat considering none of them spoke English.  It is incredible how a silly dance can bring so much laughter and joy to a group of complete strangers.

Week 3

Coming into this study abroad, I thought the wildlife was going to be the biggest highlight. After spending the last few days with the Hadza tribe, I can confidently say that this has been one of the biggest highlights of the trip thus far. The Hadza people have been so incredibly welcoming and open with us. Unlike some people we have met while in country, they do not seem intimidated by our differences. They acknowledge the differences, make some jokes, and then continue with what they are showing us. As a group, they seem to be incredibly well humored and family-oriented people. They showed us their homes and took us out gathering with their families. The next day we went hunting with them and harvested wild honey; it was amazing to see how quickly and quietly they moved through the bush. Sadly, we were not quick or quiet, therefore our hunting trip was unsuccessful. They also showed us how they make their arrows for hunting and let us shoot their bows; it was a lot of fun. For the first time, we were not the only ones asking questions. They had many very entertaining questions for us. Most of them revolved around dating, marriage, and our lifestyle. This proved to be a very funny and shocking conversation for both sides.  After dinner on our last evening in Yaeda, they sang and danced with us around the fire. I am incredibly thankful to have had the privilege to meet and learn about their way of life.

(Submitted February 3, 2024)

Hadza women digging for roots.