Part of life here in the Mara for us and the Maasai who work with us is to do our best to ensure all visitors to our camp have a memorable time and it’s great if you allow enough time to immerse yourself in the culture as well as the wildlife, our guides will give you an experience never to be forgotten.
This week we had a group of people from the USA with us for 5 nights. It’s really nice when we get visitors for 4 nights or more, as we have time to get to know them better and they get to know us.
The first day for the guests involved an early start, leaving camp at 6am just as it was starting to get light, taking breakfast and lunch with them. The early start paid off and our guides were able to show them the ‘big five’ all before lunch. The benefits of an early start are that more animals are out and about, especially the cats, before it gets too hot in the afternoon. All photos from the park are courtesy of our head guide and budding photographer, Alison. You can see from the photos that the vehicles were able to get up close with the animals, even the Rhino which is not often found out in the open like this, preferring instead to hide in areas of dense bush.
Our guests still had another 2 full days of game drives to look forward to, although topping the first day will be a difficult task for the team. However on the last day they did it, finding a family of Rhinos, the male, the female and a younger, but almost grown Rhino.
One of the days was spent on other activities. This group booked their trip to the Maasai Mara through Arte for Elephants, a travel agency based in the US. Founded by Thyra and David Rutter who also help raise funds for endangered species, including Elephants, not only that, but they also sponsor children in Education, including four children in our local school. So Thyra’s groups always include a cultural element and a visit to the local school, and they came prepared with lots of pens, colouring pencils and copy books for the children.
But before the visit to the school, there was a hill to climb. One of the activities we offer is a Hill walk, for those who feel fit enough, it’s not too tough and the view from the top makes it worth the effort. From the top you can see for miles, out over the park, all the way to Tanzania. Also you get a different perspective of the local town below, from the top it looks quite neat and nicely arranged, which is not the impression you get when you are in it. We sent extra guides on this one because the Maasai Mara is currently experiencing a drought, it hasn’t rained, apart from a few very brief showers, for several months. A drought is absolutely a bad thing for the Maasai because of their livestock not getting enough to eat and possibly dying, but another side affect of the drought is more wildlife – human conflict. Wild animals also need access to water and food and so they come closer and closer to the Maasai villages. The Maasai situated around the bottom of the hill we climb have experienced more encounters with Elephants and baboons. So, we needed the extra guides to scout ahead and scare away any dangerous wild animals. One of our guides lives in this area and the baboons have recently started to come into his house looking for food, he must hide it under the bed, and his children haven’t been outside to play for a while because of them. Baboons can be very scary animals when up close.
The next stop was the school located just at the bottom of the hill. The children were especially excited on this day as they were preparing to go home for the Christmas break and so were in high spirits. Our guests were first given a tour of the school, then they went into one of the classrooms to hand out some of the gifts they had brought with them and to talk to the children, then outside to a less formal setting before leaving the school and returning to camp.
After lunch the group walked up to a local manyatta, these are our neighbours, we know them personally and they are always happy to receive our guests. On the walk up to the village, known as a manyatta, our Maasai guides demonstrate the use of their weapons, mainly the bow and arrow and the spear. Guests are shown how to use these and are welcome to try their skills, which I have to say have never yet come close to matching the skills of the guides, although one of the women in the group practiced back at camp and became quite proficient with the spear. The Maasai are very proud of their culture, when entering the village both the men and the women perform a welcome dance and then the men go on to do s dance, that is used to celebrate their experiences when returning from time spent in the bush. Individually showing off their jumping skills, they encourage all the guests to take part as you can see from the photos. They also show their skills at making a fire with 2 pieces of wood, a handy skill to have when spending time in the bush as Moran (warrior). After this they welcome the guests into their home where they explain their culture and traditions and answer any questions you have. Finally, time to visit the women’s market, laid out on the ground, where you can buy traditional handmade Maasai jewelry, amongst many other items on show.
I can say without doubt that the group spent a great 5 days with us and were sad to leave.