5 of the World’s Most Interesting Tribes

On June 30, an isolated Amazon tribe made contact with modern civilisation. The YouTube footage of this interaction went viral, sparking excitement from those who are amazed at the willingness of these uncontactable tribal men to accept the goodwill of a settled indigenous community and Funai (Brazil’s National Indian Foundation). For those who are interested, here’s the 8 min footage for your viewing pleasure:

“This land is my life, my soul. If you take this land away from me, you take my life.” said Marcus Veron, a leader of the Guarani-Kaiowa people. For Veron and most tribal peoples, the forests and plains are intertwined into their lives. With a different set of beliefs and lifestyles, these tribes are often approached by travelers who are curious to understand their way of life. We know of travel companies opening up the option for travelers to visit the Kayan tribe in Chang Mai who embrace their long necks as a cultural identity. These tribes benefit from their involvement in the cash economy, but at the same time are affected through the exploitation of tribal land to cater to tourism needs.

longneck_08 Credits to: Izismile

Perhaps you may be interested in learning more about the way of life of tribal people. So why not head to these tribes as a backpacker, rather than feeding the tourism industry and affecting the lives of the harmless?

Here are 5 tribes which may interest you, impressive in their culture and practices:

1. “The Red People”


Himba-Village-300x199Credits to: VictoriaFalls24

The Himba Tribe sees red as a symbol of life, the color the symbolises earth and blood. This explains why the tribe takes pride in giving their body a reddish tone, rubbing their body daily with cream that consists of rancid butterfat and ochre powder. Tribe members pay special attention to their hairstyles as well, braiding and covering their hair with the special ochre mixuture called “otjize”.

The 50 000 member populated tribe is located at Northern Namibia (Kunene Region), Africa, and takes a three day drive on dirt tracks to get there. Yet, many individuals have followed the path of curiousness and ended up in the village, and getting their bodies and hair covered in red herbs. A short documentary shows the interaction this lady gets with the Himba Tribe: x

2. “Beautifying for Marriage”



Credits to: The10MostKnown / TheStoryBehindtheFaces

The largest plate wins. Women in the Surma Tribe stretch their lips to fit a plate up to sixteen inches in diameter in order to be the most stunning lady for a higher opportunity of marriage. This routine is incorporated in the lives of young girls, whereby most women have their bottom teeth remove and their bottom lips pierced and stretched to allow for the insertion of a clay lip plate.

Exposure to other cultures has increasingly shift this practice of the Surma Tribe members. Children are sometimes painted with white clay paint instead, which are dotted on their face or body.

3. “Practicing Cannibalism”



Credits to: The10MostKnown / GreenBadge

The Korowai tribe, located in Indonesian New Guinea, is one of the few tribes who live in the jungles. Well known for their exceptional ability to climb and for their tree houses, we see how these tribe members are able to sustain in the forested areas of New Guinea.

That’s not all about the Korowai tribe. They are one of the few tribes that eat human flesh, even up till today. Male witches are disapproved by tribe members, and are often killed and eaten. Most Korowai still live with little knowledge of the world beyond their homelands and frequently feud with one another. Here’s an account of a reporter who got up close and personal with the tribesmen: x

4. “The Migrators”


caravan_movingCredits to: BBC

The Mongolian nomads of the Darhad valley migrate four to six times a year, in order to find pasture for their herds. Relying on their little horses, they move huge herds of sheep, goats, cattle, yaks and camels across steppes and mountains of the Darhad Valley. To facilitate their movements, the Darhad tribe live in portable wooden-framed huts, covered in canvas or felt. The herders can put one up or take it down in under an hour.

This spectacular and grueling life has been made harsher bytough winters and droughts. Herders are lured into the city for jobs, which significantly declined the 10 000 herders over the years.

5. “The Bullet Ant Warriors”



Credits to: iheartbugs / naturebeads / ferrebeekeeper

An initiation with thousands of ants, that doesn’t sound too bad. But what if it’s an initiation with the Bullet Ant- which will cause hours of pain just from a single sting- will you be able to endure it?

The Amazon Rainforest teems with millions of species of ants, but men in the Mawé tribe are put to test with the bullet ant. Young men who are able to pass the test will join the ranks of warriors, which are highly revered in the Mawé tribe. With strength and courage valued in their culture, these qualities are seen as necessary for protection of the tribe from hostile neighbors and natural predators, as well as to provide a steady supply of food for its members. Mawé warriors and hunters ensure the well-being of the tribe in many regards, thus young boys in the tribe are raised with the purpose of becoming warriors.


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