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Maasai Immersion Volunteer Project in Tanzania

Maasai Immersion Volunteer Project in Tanzania

Wondering how living and working as a volunteer in a Maasai Village is? International Volunteer HQ’s Maasai Immersion is a holistic project in which volunteers will have the opportunity to support the local community projects and Maasai people, selecting from a wide range of tasks and gaining an authentic cultural experience. You will experience the day-to-day life of the local Maasai tribes, while learning about their unique culture and lifestyle.

Highlights:
  • Programs start on the 1st and 15th of every month
  • Affordable fees from CA$741 for 2 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help to improve the lives of Maasai people

  • Experience local culture whilst living in comfortable Maasai eco bomas

  • Be welcomed into the Maasai community as you support a diverse number of key projects

'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

Key information

Support local Maasai people through various community projects
Based at a village in remote Maasailand
Stay in a Maasai boma
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from CA$741 for 2 weeks
Set duration of 2 weeks
Experience incredible landscapes, wildlife & cultural activities
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Enthusiastic volunteers who want to support a community tackle rural poverty, education, food security and more.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Maasailand stretches across northern Tanzania and is home to the Maasai tribe. As a Maasai Immersion volunteer you will engage in a unique cultural experience from start to finish. After arriving in Arusha, you will head to Makuyuni Village, where the environment is like no other and the local people are only Maasai.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to support a rural Maasai community that aims to provide essential education, conserve the environment and poverty reduction. Volunteers can help in different aspects of the community such as teaching, medical, construction, agricultural, farming, women empowerment, social media and business advisory, and so on. Also, Maasai people are pastoralists, well-known for their herds of cattle. At the village, there are plenty of cows and goats that need care along with milking every morning to provide food for the school and to the families of the community.

Our project is run by a very special Maasai community who has set up a not-for-profit initiative that started in 2013, 20 km from Makuyuni Village, initially with 13 students and a single teacher under a tree. Fast forward to 2024, they have established a community led pre & primary school across ten acres offering a bicultural education to ensure local children (60% girls) have the best possible opportunities whilst remaining grounded in their Maasai culture. The community supports around 360 children today, with aspirations to grow to 800. They need your help to make this happen!

All volunteering opportunities feedback into the pre & primary school and local people, providing a significant impact to this underserved community. The initiative aims to reduce poverty and associated injustices, create opportunities through education to children and women, and conserve biological diversity using natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Many students from Maasai communities are below the Maasai poverty line, so the community currently houses and feeds up to 100 students in dormitory facilities. They also supply bursaries and scholarships to 34% of pupils who cannot afford school fees. The community has created a thriving permaculture farm which covers 7 acres and supplies 1/6 of the school’s food for children and teachers. They are also building an eco dam to ensure supply of water to the school and surrounding communities through the dry season. They are working on establishing a health clinic with a plan to promote community health education and disease prevention programs. And they have also established women empowerment social enterprises to promote gender equity and ensure women’s roles in society are valued and recognized.

The community has achieved a lot already, but they have much more to do. All volunteering opportunities will support the local school and communities. They range from:

  • Teaching children from the age of 3-12 years
  • Supporting a local doctor in the local community
  • Construction support for school expansion and improvement of other facilities
  • Getting your hands dirty and learning the Permaculture method of agriculture
  • Animal farming and welfare
  • Social media content creation and advice
  • Wider business advisory roles, from helping with grant applications to business plans

The volunteering option you choose can be decided on your first day on the project. You are welcome to choose different options on different days. You’ll have the support of local staff so no experience is required for any volunteering work.

Alongside volunteering, you will get the opportunity to experience the village community, from Maasai dancing, traditional fire making, meeting the local women and their business projects, and playing with the young students in their free time.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

As job losses escalate as a result of Covid-19, it is estimated that nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their livelihoods. We must improve access to jobs, decent work conditions and community services in order to achieve peace, sustainable economic growth and a better quality of life for all.

Why do Maasai Immersion volunteering in Arusha with IVHQ?

As a Maasai Immersion volunteer in Tanzania you’ll be making an impact to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping local Maasai people improve education and facilities
  • Supporting a wide range of projects
  • Developing your communication and practical skills
  • Deepening your cultural intelligence and global awareness
  • Engage in Maasai cultural experiences
  • Discovering Tanzania’s incredible landscapes and wildlife

Volunteer requirements

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.

All volunteers must speak fluent English.

Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply For Free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

DM
Donna Moll
25 Jan 2024

My experience living in the Maasai community was life-altering to me personally. I have made lasting friendships and hope to return in 2024 to continue my assignment working in the school. I loved my charming cozy hut in Maasailand! And the meals are excellent! The cooks (mamas) definitely catered to my vegetarian diet.

I plan to volunteer again in 2024. Best decision for 2023 was volunteering with IVHQ and the local team in Tanzania.

...
LG
Lorna Ghanim
04 Jan 2024

My time spent with the Maasai was beyond words and I have made lifelong friends and plan to return in the not too distant future. The Serengeti and Ngorongoro blew my mind and were everything I'd hoped for. Overall the staff and coordinators were amazing and everything was exceptionally well organised.

The mamas fed us like kings and queens and nothing was too much to ask for. I hope I gave 110% on my Maasai program, they are awesome people and made me more than welcome!

What that community is achieving with the school is unreal and the Maasai leader and his team deserve all the help available.

BIG thank you for my African bucket list experience, I will never forget!

...
LH
Lydia Hall
21 Dec 2023

Best experience I have ever had! Honestly exceeded all expectations. Everything from the warm welcome, the amazing other volunteers, the volunteering work. Perfect!

...
ER
Eleonora Russo
16 Nov 2023

The Masaai immersion was an experience I’ll never forget. The Masaai people were all incredibly gracious and kind towards the volunteers and treated me like one of them. The food was absolutely amazing! I felt very safe throughout my stay and I only wish I could have stayed longer.

...
MT
Mitchell Tuddenham
26 Oct 2023

I went to Tanzania searching for something and what I found far exceeded my expectations. I gained an experience that altered my state of being and elevated the way I carry myself through the world. Be open to anything, take things in your stride, listen, learn and love the experience for what it is, not what you want it to be.

...
DS
Daina Selma
04 Oct 2023

Even thought I’ve volunteered a lot in my life, every experience brings different awareness and welcomes new people in your life. I’m really grateful that I had an opportunity to join Maasai immersion and meet many incredible, inspiring people, who shared their joy and knowledge with me. My accommodation at my placement was much better than I expected. It was extremely clean and comfortable. I ate everything and I had no issues with food, and everything was prepared with high hygiene standards. Some of the best food I ever had!

Love, gratitude, happiness, and joy flowed through me as I immersed myself in the vibrant Maasai culture. Their profound wisdom, rich traditions, and fearless spirit touched my soul in ways I can hardly express. Stepping into their world, lending a helping hand to the community, and breathing their air were experiences that etched an indelible mark on my heart. I became completely lost in the rhythm of their songs and dances, lost in the laughter and play with the children, feeling like one of their own. It was a journey back to my roots, a rediscovery of pure, unadulterated joy, and a celebration of the simple pleasures of life. In that moment, I chose happiness above all else. Money, as important as it may be, pales in comparison to the genuine emotions of love, gratitude, and joy that permeate the hearts of both adults and children in the Maasai community. I only can hope that my presence among them maybe can play a small role in building opportunities for countless Maasai children to access education and embrace a life filled with happiness and fulfilment.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

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Maasai Cultural Immersion Volunteer Project in Tanzania with IVHQ

Location

This project is set at Makuyuni Village in rural Maasailand, located approximately 1.5 hours from Arusha. You’ll have the rare chance to see wildlife roaming freely across the landscape, situated in an area that is part of the larger Manyara and Tarangire National Parks.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the 1st and 15th of every month. Volunteers joining this project will need to arrive in Arusha the day before their start date and will spend their first night at the volunteer house in Arusha. On the following day, after their orientation together with volunteers from other projects, they will be transported by the local team from the volunteer house to Makuyuni Village and then return on the end date two weeks later.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK) in Arusha. Your airport pick-up is included in your program fee. When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Arusha, where you will spend your first night. Your accommodation is covered by your program fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Tanzania prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Arusha on the day before your program orientation. Orientation is hosted by our local team at one of the volunteer houses in Arusha. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date. If your start date falls on a weekend or a public holiday, your orientation will begin on the Monday or day following the public holiday. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Tanzania – an introduction to Tanzania, Tanzanian customs, rules and expectations, language lessons (Kiswahili), safety, travel opportunities in Tanzania, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example

First Day

On the first day of the volunteering placement, you will be escorted to the project by our local staff and introduced to the staff at the project you will be working with.

Weekdays

Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at. A typical volunteer day would be as follows:

7:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 AM Volunteers take the short walk to the placement. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at.
1:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers will walk back home for lunch at their accommodation, rest and prepare for the next day or come back to their placement in the afternoon. You can choose to continue your placement, or engage with the local culture, if you wish to.
6:00 - 7:00 PM Dinner is available at the volunteer accommodation.

Weekends

Tanzania is a wildlife lover’s dream. In your free time you can venture out on a safari and see Africa’s Big 5 - lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhino - as well as the mind-blowing number of other species that call Tanzania home.

In Arusha itself you can find great markets, take a few days to hike up the nearby Mt Meru, or learn about the Maasai and Meru tribes of the area. You can also take take a short flight down to Zanzibar for a weekend of sun and sandy beaches or save some time before or after your program to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers on the Maasai Immersion project spend their first night in Arusha. They are accommodated in dorm-style volunteer houses located in Sakina, Arusha. In the volunteer houses, you can expect to share a room with one to ten other volunteers of the same gender; however, the majority of rooms accommodate 4-6 people. Living conditions are basic, but the volunteer houses have running water and electricity. It’s important to note that there are often power outages, which can affect the availability of hot water and electricity. There are cooks who prepare meals for the volunteers, and volunteer houses have security guards.

At Makuyuni Village, volunteers will be accommodated in their own Maasai Bomas and gather around the campfire every evening for dinner under the stars. You can expect to share a boma with one or two volunteers of the same gender. ​These bomas are purpose built accommodations to host volunteers in a way that is very similar to the design of a Maasai boma.

A boma consists of a collection of simple crafted traditional Maasai earth huts, typically made of mud, sticks, grass and cow dung. Each hut offers solar power, comfortable beds, and basic washroom/shower facilities. Volunteers can expect to share a boma with only one other volunteer of the same gender. Living is rustic but comfortable.

Bedding is​ ​provided in Arusha and Makuyuni, however you will need​ ​to bring​ ​your own towel and toiletries. It is​ ​also​ ​recommended to bring​ ​a​ sleeping bag for cooler months.

If you would like to keep connected during your stay in Arusha, we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in Tanzania. The local team can assist you with purchasing a SIM card during your program orientation. You can also access WiFi from cafes and restaurants in Arusha.

At your Maasai accommodation, wifi is widely available.

If you would like to arrive a day earlier than your recommended arrival date, or wish to spend a few extra nights after finishing your program, we can arrange extra nights of accommodation for you for $35 per person, per night, meals included, subject to availability. Please note, extra nights are only available in Arusha.

If you would like to arrange extra nights of accommodation, you will be able to request these via the website after you register.

Please be aware that private room upgrades are not available in Tanzania.

Meals

Tanzanian cuisine varies across the country due to differences in produce found inland and along the coast. The immigration of Khoja Indians has influenced local dishes with Indian flavors. Staple foods in Tanzania include rice, ugali (maize porridge), chapatti, and beans. Please keep in mind that rice and beans are significant components of meals in Tanzania, so you can expect to be served these quite often.

Volunteers are provided with three meals a day at the volunteer houses and homestays. Breakfast typically consists of eggs served with pancakes, mandazzi (deep-fried dough balls), or cake, along with plenty of fresh fruit, bread, and a selection of jams and other spreads for toast.

Lunch and dinner usually feature a traditional meat dish (chicken or beef) alongside a vegetable dish, beans, lentils, or cooked vegetables served with rice, pasta, chips, or chapatti.

Meals are served at the accommodations, but lunch boxes with fruits and sandwiches can be provided upon request if your placement is scheduled to finish after lunchtime.

Bottled water is readily available in Tanzania, and volunteers should budget approximately $5 per week for 2 liters a day. Filtered water is also available at the accommodations, and you can choose between purchasing bottled water or using the free filtered water provided in the houses.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please inform us so that the local team can make arrangements for you. They can provide vegetarian meals and options that are dairy and gluten-free; however, please note that vegan, halal, and kosher options are not available. Keep in mind that your eating experience may differ from what you’re accustomed to at home. The local team will do their best to accommodate your needs and ensure volunteers are well taken care of, but it’s essential for volunteers to remain flexible.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks CA$741 Equivalent to CA$53/day
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$473) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in CAD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Tanzania generally find US$75-100 per week to be sufficient for expenses.

Free-time experiences & tours in Tanzania

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Tanzania! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Tanzania program.

Kifaru Safari
Kifaru Safari

A 2 day safari in Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater where you will have the opportunity to see amazing wildlife in their natural habitat.

CA$501
Maasai Village Tours
Maasai Village Tours

Gain an authentic insight into the Maasai way of life. Volunteers can choose between half or full day trips.

From CA$115
Moshi Trips
Moshi Trips

An opportunity to visit Moshi Town, the last village before the Kilimanjaro National Park. Volunteers can choose between 1 or 2 day trips.

From CA$100
Kifaru Safari
Kifaru Safari

A 2 day safari in Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater where you will have the opportunity to see amazing wildlife in their natural habitat.

CA$501
Maasai Village Tours
Maasai Village Tours

Gain an authentic insight into the Maasai way of life. Volunteers can choose between half or full day trips.

From CA$115
Moshi Trips
Moshi Trips

An opportunity to visit Moshi Town, the last village before the Kilimanjaro National Park. Volunteers can choose between 1 or 2 day trips.

From CA$100

Check what's required to visit Tanzania

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Dodoma
Population 58 million
Languages Swahili and English
Currency Tanzanian Shilling (TZS)
Time zone UTC+03:00

Weather and climate

Tanzania is hot throughout the year and is humid on the coast and dry on the central plateau. The heavy rains last from March to June and can make unsealed road travel difficult. The hot, dry weather in January and February attracts the most tourists. The best time to visit the Serengeti is from January to March, when the grazers are calving and there are plenty of lions around. Or witness the wildebeest migration to and from Kenya, which occurs at the onset of the dry season and again with the first rains, usually around the beginning of June and mid-November.

Other projects you may be interested in

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
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