About Tribe

Go tribal with former Royal Marines officer and expedition leader Bruce Parry as he becomes a guest of six of the world's most secluded tribes. He tries out their time-honoured traditions, joins in their shamanistic rituals and discovers how the rest of the world is threatening to change their way of life forever.


The Sanema People

Live in: Upper Caura region of Venezuela Culture: spiritual rainforest dwellers, partly nomadic On Bruce's visit: he trains as a shaman Part of a larger group of 20,000 people known as the Yanomami, the Sanema people believe that spirits dwell in everything around them. The trees, rocks, rivers and animals all have a spirit with whom the tribal shamans can communicate. Once totally nomadic, the Sanema now settle in villages and cultivate papayas, bananas, yuccas, chillies and sugarcane. Though they live in a biosphere reserve, an area protected by law, their way of life is threatened by the continual destruction of huge swathes of the surrounding rainforest.

The Babongo People

Live in: Gabon, western Africa Culture: forest-dwelling hunter-gatherers of the Congo basin On Bruce's visit: he is initiated into the Bwiti religion by ingesting the sometimes fatal drug, Iboga The Babongo people, who number around 2,000, live alongside several other pygmy tribes in the heavily forested Congo basin. They have no formal system of government or chiefs, and traditionally, each small group within the tribe had rights to the territory where they lived and hunted. They know the forest intimately, and are expert trackers - they can find a bee hive by following the flight path of a single bee. The countries they live in give them no legal right over their territory, and their way of life is in danger because of deforestation.

Ray Mears on Tribes

The Adi People

Live in: Adi-Pasi, Arunachal Pradesh, eastern India Culture: isolated mountain tribe with strong connection to dance as a form of art and entertainment On Bruce's visit: he participates in sacrificial ceremonies and samples the tribal delicacies - the prized 'toilet pigs' and roasted rat cake It's believed that the Adi people, who live in the Arunachal province of the Himalayas, migrated from southern China during the 16th Century. They are experts at making cane and bamboo items - their piece de resistance is a 250-foot-long cane and bamboo bridge that connects them to other hill tribes in the area.

The Suri People

Live in: southwest Ethiopia near the Sudan border Culture: sedentary pastoral tribe, tradition of ritualised violence On Bruce's visit: he drinks blood and gets a tattoo The Suri live in a remote location in the desolate mountain region of Ethiopia, and have traditional rivalries with neighbouring tribes. At a young age, most women of the Suri tribe have their bottom teeth removed and their bottom lips pierced and stretched, in order to insert a clay lip plate. The bigger the plate, the more cattle she is worth when it's time to get married. The young men learn the are of donga, or stick fighting. Modern culture means that many young women are now refusing the lip-piercing ceremony, and young men are turning to guns, instead of sticks, to fight their battles.

The Kombai People

Live in: West Papua in the South Pacific Culture: cannibalistic nomadic hunter-gatherers On Bruce's visit: he's surrounded by local hunters, all with deadly arrow tips pointing straight at him There are about 4,000 Kombai people alive today living in one of the last great wilderness areas left on Earth, West Papua. They live a nomadic existence and have no metal tools. They rely on stone axes, wooden stakes and tradition bows and arrows for hunting, building and protection. The tribe used to - and possibly still does - practice cannibalism, which has its roots in religion. But never fear, they only kill and eat evil people that are practicing witchcraft against them.

The Darhad People

Live in: outer Mongolia Culture: nomadic herders On Bruce's visit: loses a valuable horse while 'helping' to herd livestock The Darhad herd sheep, cattle and horses and have done so for centuries. They move four times a year, to find fresh pastures and more hospitable weather for their herds. In the northern reaches of Mongolia, temperatures drop below minus 20°C in winter, and the ground is permanently frozen. They live in tents, called ger, which are designed to be lightweight for travel, but warm enough to protect them from the climate. Many families now have satellite TVs, but still travel by horseback because they don't have roads.