Safari Diary 2014 – Mto-wa-Mbu [Cultural Stop]

When on Safari, sometimes it is nice to get out of the Safari vehicle and meet people and local tribes like the Hadza and the colorful Maasai. There are many areas you can enjoy this interaction – some a bit touristy and some away from the beaten path.

Mto-wa-Mbu is a little village between Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater and frankly, slightly on the beaten route. But even so, it was a good place to get a quick glimpse of how this fertile region is home to many people who depend on tourism.

This area is known for growing rice [a walk in the rice fields is possible], coffee, different vegetables, delicious papayas and much more for the lodges and camps hence tourism is important for the residents. Within Tanzania, it is famous for its banana plantation. There are about 25-30 different species. Growing up in Arusha, if someone was going to Karatu, the neighbouring village and farming hub, or Mto-wa-Mbu, we would ask for the red bananas which would make a delicious desserts.

A walk here also takes you to a local home where your guide will give you a glimpse of how local Tanzanians live in a farm. {Note. Our guides have an understanding with the families that they will bring visitors as part of cultural tourism and you are not expected to give any tips or payment to the families}.

We offer a guided tour of this area. If you do a morning tour, you can eat lunch at a local restaurant and sample some local dishes like Ugali, cooked dough made with corn flour with meat stew and of course, banana. Chris with Wayo Africa lead this tour for me.

A good 3-4 hour stop in-between your Safari.

Banana bunch on the tree. 5000 bunchs cultivated everyday.

Banana bunch on the tree. 5000 bunchs cultivated everyday.


Lots of vegetable gardens. These are for personal use I believe though this area has many farms that grow vegetables for lodges and camps.


Hodi [knock, knock]. We are about to enter a home. They are not waiting and it is up to you to decide how much you want to explore.


A good activity for kids. Short walking.


Sweet papaya. For breakfast, you will almost always have papayas and a lot of them will come from this region.


Cooking red banana.


Our friendly guide Chris showing us custard apple fruit on the trees.