While it’s true that the Kenya’s and Tanzania’s local governments are trying to encourage the nomadic communities to abandon their lifestyles, the Masaai, a semi-nomadic people native to Kenya and northern Tanzania, are stronger than ever. Continuing to push forward and evolve, the Masaai culture remains steadfast in the face of change as they hold true to their ancient traditions, living off the land and managing to farm, most impressively, among the deserts and scrublands. It’s why no trip to Kenya would be complete without spending some time with the Maasai people.
Best known for their red shukas (cloths), colourful jewellery and distinctive customs, the Masaai are as formidable as they are friendly. On Intrepid Travel’s Kenya Wildlife Safari tour, you’ll head to a local village in the Lolita Hills to camp alongside a Maasai community and experience firsthand what their modern-day lives are like. Visit the village, step inside a typical mud hut, learn how to throw a spear, and perhaps even help tend to their livestock.
After dinner, you’ll gather around a crackling fire to hear stories about the Masaai’s age-old culture and traditions from a the village elder, before drifting off to sleep to the crackling of the fire and the sounds of the bush under a sky of stars. The Maasai are forbidding warriors and while you slumber they will patrol the campsite, even accompanying you to the loo should you need to get up during the night.
The next morning you’ll collect your belongings and wave farewell your new friends as you hit the dusty roads in your 4×4 and make your way into the vast arid plains, dotted with wildlife and blanketed by open sky as far as the eye can see, of the Masai Mara National Reserve, an experience all-the-more richer for the one you had the night before.
The eight-day Kenya Wildlife Safari departs year-round and starts from US$1220.
Visits to Maasai communities can be contrived, commercialised, and negatively received by travellers so it’s important to find reputable companies offering authentic experiences. Once there be prepared to forgo some creature comforts such as hot showers, wi-fi and power.