Lake Eyasi is a shallow saline lake set in the Rift Valley floor. It extends across 400 square miles in years of abundant rainfall but might dry out entirely in periods of drought. Although it ranks among the more remote attractions on Tanzania’s northern safari circuit, Eyasi is of unique cultural interest as the stronghold of the country’s last few hundred active Hadza hunter-gatherers.
Discover Lake Eyasi
Guided visits to a temporary Hadza encampment can be arranged through a local cultural tourism association. Going on the hunt with these modest, self-sufficient people, who still adhere to their traditional nomadic ways despite numerous attempted government interventions, offers deep insights into the foraging lifestyle practiced by most human populations until a few thousand years ago.
Enclosed by a muddy white soda crust, Eyasi looks rather desolate and forbidding in the harsh midday light, but – set below the imposing 2,500ft-high cliffs of the Rift Valley escarpment – it can be hauntingly beautiful in the soft light of dawn and dusk.
Large mammals are thinly distributed in the tangled acacia scrub around Eyasi, but you might come across the localized lesser kudu as well as Kirk’s dik-dik and olive baboon – the latter a favored item on the Hadza menu.
An important source of fish for local people, Eyasi also supports a wide variety of birds, including aggregations of hundreds of thousands of flamingos in suitable conditions.
In addition to the Hadza, the Eyasi hinterland is home to the Datoga, traditional pastoralists with strong cultural affinities to the Maasai. Guided tours to a Datoga village can be arranged through a local cultural tourism association.