Experiencing Village Life in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

The heat of the midday sun beat down upon me as I walked out of the bright green rice fields I had been exploring near our camp site. Waiting for a tuk tuk to pass by, I crossed the main road and entered onto a dusty dirt street on the other side. The sound of cars on the main road slowly disappeared as I walked along, and the sense of peace and quiet hit me almost instantly. Around me were rough mud brick houses with banana leaf and straw thatched roofs, some with wooden supports and old sheets of tin roofing. Some chickens scratched around happily underneath banana groves, and I could hear the sound of children coming from somewhere to my left. Before I knew it a couple of young girls came out to greet me with huge grins on their faces.

I was currently on a tour through the streets of Mto wa Mbu, a village at the northern end of Lake Manyara in Northern Tanzania, which was included in the safari that I booked with G Adventures. Our group was being led through the streets of the village to experience what life is like in a typical Tanzanian town.

Rice fields in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Rice fields in Mto wa Mbu

A tuk tuk on the main road in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

A tuk tuk passes by on the main road

A house and clothes line in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Clothes hung out in front of a house

Two girls come to greet in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Two girls come to greet me

As I continued walking through the village, the meeting of curious kids became even more common, and they all seemed to want to have their picture taken as their mothers watched on from their nearby houses, busily sweeping or washing clothes. Our guide told us all about the village and it’s people as we walked along, taking us to a wood carving shop where you can watch the masters at work and purchase genuine wood carvings. From here, we were taken to a house to try the local banana beer before exploring more of the village.

Kids playing in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Kids playing

A boy poses for camera in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

A boy smiles for the camera in front of his family

A wood carver at work in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

A wood carver at work

Wooden bowls for sale in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Wooden bowls for sale

Wooden masks for sale in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Wooden masks

An orange flower in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

A bright orange flower in the village

Banana beer in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Banana beer

I continuously found myself lagging behind as I interacted with the local kids and looked in detail at the interesting buildings of the village. Passing by their church, I found myself swinging a little boy with Jeff, another member of the group, his laughter showing me the joy in such a simple thing, and before I knew it we were surrounded by kids wanting a turn. This could have gone on all day if our tired arms hadn’t forced us to retire from our role as the new village swing set.

A house in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

A house and farm buildings

Church in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

The local church

A boy swinging in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Jeff and I swinging a boy with our arms. We were soon surrounded by a whole bunch of other kids. – Photo Credit: Chris Paschall

With what seemed like half the village’s children following us, we continued walking past the mud houses and banana trees, making our way to the tinga tinga workshop, where we were able to watch the artists painting the colourful Tanzanian art. By this time my stomach was telling me that it was well and truly lunchtime, so from here we made our way to our lunch spot where we sampled a delicious local lunch, with a whole selection of tasty Tanzanian dishes. After two plates of this delicious local food I felt that I was about to burst, and I was ready to head back to camp to have a rest before our afternoon game drive in Lake Manyara National Park.

A field of beans at a farm in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Passing by a field of beans

Houses in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Typical houses in Mto wa Mbu

A dirt street in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

A dirt street

Man pushing a bicycle full of bananas in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

A man pushes a bicycle piled up with bananas

A tinga tinga artist at work in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

A tinga tinga artist at work

Tinga tinga painting for sale in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

Completed paintings for sale

Local food in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania

A feast of local dishes

Mto wa Mbu was a really interesting village to explore and it was great to experience real village life in Tanzania. However, what I’ll remember most from this day are those cute kids with their smiling faces.


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17 comments… add one
  • Mmm, banana beer. How did it taste?! I like the shot of the artists at work. 😀
    Audrey | That Backpacker recently posted..How Long Does It Take To Feel Like A Local?My Profile

  • Nomadic Translator Oct 10, 2012

    seeing these pictures = very humbling. Specially that shot of the local church…it really hit me. We must be thankful for everything we have in the Western world..

    And I’m with Audrey on this one: Banana beer?! Sounds delicious! I can’t wait to get home to get a pumpkin beer by the way… mmm…

    – Maria Alexandra
    Nomadic Translator recently posted..European Halloween traditions and festivalsMy Profile

    • Dean Wickham Oct 10, 2012

      Hi Maria. I’m glad that these photos touched you. This is one of the great things about travel and why I think everyone should visit places like this. It is experiences like these that give you a whole different perspective of the world.

      And Banana beer…well it wasn’t that great, but you’ll never know unless you try it right? 🙂
      Dean Wickham recently posted..Experiencing Village Life in Mto wa Mbu, TanzaniaMy Profile

  • Banana beer? Lol, sounds very hilarious. Have you tried Ugali? That’s the perennial cornmeal porridge. It’s so delicious. I’ve heard locals over there eat more rice than Asian people. Is that true?
    Agness (@Agnesstramp) recently posted..Thailand: The Land of SmilesMy Profile

  • Thanks for sharing your experience in Tanzania — and these a great photos! I always appreciate it when travel bloggers visit and write about countries in Africa because I think that in general most people just don’t go there. I guess it’s just not as glamorous as other regions, but I, personally, find it spectacular.

    • Dean Wickham Oct 20, 2012

      Thank you Ellen. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and the post. Africa is certainly not a place that everyone likes to visit, but for me, it is exactly what I look for when I travel. It’s all about the experience and the chance to see how the rest of the world lives. It’s the greatest education that a person can receive.
      Dean Wickham recently posted..Delicious Pad See Ew in Chiang Rai, ThailandMy Profile

  • Great article and great experience. I am with on the kids and their smiling faces. I visited a few villages out in Zimbabwe and that is what mostly stuck with me, how happy the kids were despite having those creature comforts we value so highly in the west.

    • Dean Wickham Nov 3, 2012

      Hi Jess. Glad you enjoyed the article. I often find that the happiest people in the world are those who have very little.

  • Bryan McCornick Aug 13, 2013

    wow, this place is a paradise, I will be there next year to spend my Summer, thanks for sharing it, I am looking to this.

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