Travel Tips

10 Fundamental Tips for Visiting Indigenous Tribes

As the popularity of indigenous tourism and the desire to learn about the “true” way of life of the natives increases throughout the world, we have to be more aware of how to make a positive impact on the communities we visit.

Living with an indigenous tribe can be among the most life-changing experiences a traveler can have but you must avoid at all costs that your contact with the host communities supposes the vanishing of the authenticity that you seek so much.

For this reason and to maintain the beautiful heritage that all indigenous peoples have left us throughout history, you have to follow some fundamental tips to preserve their lifestyle.

Respect, Learn and Accept: Tolerance!

Tolerance is at the base of universal human rights and respect of diversity, especially in the sharing of cultures!

Live by the "golden rule": “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

Cultural differences are the mix of race, ethnicity, gender, class, physical and mental abilities, religion and spiritual beliefs, age, and more. We must learn the ability to learn from the communities and treat people respectfully accepting their backgrounds. Remember to resist the urge to judge views that differ from yours and consider them wrong. Avoid imposing your own values, culture and stereotyping!

Don’t push your limits, do your research and be prepared to face reality

If you feel like some of the tribes might be too extreme, don’t push your limits! Some of our communities live in very harsh climates and locations, this could be a problem for you and it is perfectly fine not feeling too sure or at ease. Do your research before booking your experience and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Be ready to experience their reality with an open mind. Remember the cultural differences you might have, and don’t forget that some of them didn’t have access to some of the privileges you have been granted!

Nomadic Tribe is working to protect its communities and to bring basic needs to all of them. If you want to know more about the actions we are taking to support the people we work with, stay up-to-date with the news in our Discovery section, and also follow us on our social media.

Respect the Wildlife and be a responsible guest.

When travelling to remote areas, it is easy to forget that some communities don’t have access to a proper waste management system. Whatever waste you bring to the village, like plastic bottles or candy wrappers, these often end up in fields, rivers, beaches and in the ocean. Make sure to bring back with you all your waste and dispose it where you are sure it will be recycled.

Chemical ingredients in soaps and sunscreens are now banned from some countries since they jeopardize the fragile ecosystem of the reefs, marine life or the soil. Make sure your sunscreen is reef safe and it does not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate which bleach corals, and your soaps are biodegradable.

If you’re hiking in the wilderness don’t leave any trace of you behind, vandalize anything (buildings, rocks, trees, etc), or remove objects from their natural environment. Conserve water, limit energy use and dispose of sanitary waste properly!

For more tips on how to travel sustainable and how you can minimize your impact on the local flora and fauna, make sure to check our guide: “Ultimate Guide to Travel Sustainably to Indigenous Communities”

Smile, learn basic words and communicate with hands

Smiling is an international language! If you have the chance, learn some expressions and words in the local language, they will definitely appreciate the effort and it will show them not only how much you respect their culture but also how much you value their intangible culture. Unfortunately, tribal languages are more and more endangered and oftentimes, elderly members of the communities don’t see the point to teach them to new generations. When in need, speak with your hands or try facial expressions.

Enjoy and be respectful with the traditional food!

As you can imagine, tribal food can be very different from what you are used to! When invited, you should try the food members of the community prepare for you, especially to avoid offending them! If you have dietary preferences, always make sure to tell them explain the reasons and refuse politely.

Help out!

We know that our Nomadi are diligent travelers, and we know you are on holiday, however, to live a true experience with our communities, make sure to get involved in the daily life and help out your host community! Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and to show your skills, all while helping the tribes to build village’s huts or cook!

Ask permission before taking a photo and be ready to show your pictures

Consider this, how would you respond if someone was taking a picture without your permission?

If you want to take a picture that will last you forever of the communities you will visit, remember to always ask permission, and if you want to take a picture of a young child always ask their parents. It is easy for people to feel exploited and disrespected, especially if we don’t value their privacy, the members of the community will surely appreciate your politeness!

People love to see the pictures that talented travelers take of them, they are often extremely curious, so be ready to show all your photos!

Furthermore, you should avoid taking pictures of members that ask you for money in exchange. Unfortunately, oftentimes this might be perceived as a better income resulting in people not taking care of the cattle or other daily tasks anymore.

Do not bring gifts and avoid giving money

It is hard to imagine that some children don’t have access to basic education, pencils or toys, but unfortunately this is the reality in many of our communities.

Nomadic Tribe is currently working on different cultural and social projects to bring basic needs to all tribes involved. Make sure to visit our foundation page in the near future where you can donate, help our cause and learn more about our future projects.

Many travelers usually feel like bringing sweets, clothes, books, and pencils to give to the children. However, this can do more harm than good since it can bring up community conflict and stimulate dependency and begging.

If you feel like giving, it is better to invest in a reputable local organizations that is already engaged in social development programs for the tribe.

Avoid giving any kind of medicines, it could be harmful for some members since they might be allergic to them without knowing it and it could jeopardize the power and position of local tribal healers

Invest in handmade goods: support the real local economy.

Young Himba woman

Young Himba woman

What a better way to bring back with you a truly valuable reminder of your experience? Today, indigenous resistance to economic globalization and capitalism is essential for their survival so invest in some of the handmade local goods! This will help them, especially women which are often the handcrafters, to build a local economy and it will help families. This will also show them how much you appreciate their culture! In general, never buy wildlife products!

Explore, don’t linger!

You are going to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in which wildlife is still quite untouched, make sure to take it all in and bring it back home with you! Have lots of fun, all while learning about diversity and cultural differences.