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Maasai Volunteer Vacation Safari

A one week wildrness adventure in Kenya.
Family Friendly Safari

Number of days: 12 nights/13 days

Regions:Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru

Activities: Cultural Visits, Adventure Camping

Accommodation: JK Mara Camp and other village locations

2011 Departure Dates: On Request

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."    Albert Schweitzer

Maasai Mara Volunteer Adventure Itinerary

Explore the wonders of Kenya while helping those less fortunate than yourselves. This two-week volunteer adventure gives you a wonderful introduction to the famous safari country whilst also providing you the opportunity to help some of the most impoverished people in the country. Stepping into the magical unknown, you will learn more about life and yourself than you ever dreamed possible. Learn about your own capacity and innate desire to help others and revel in the deep satisfaction of a hard day’s work. Fully immersing yourself in a new culture, you will experience a tolerance and respect for a different interpretation of the human experience whilst also witnessing the similarities we share as human beings. By leaving your old way of life behind you will expand your belief system and savor the inherent simplicity of life.

A "mini peace corps" experience, you will live and work with the famous Maasai tribe. Learn endless amounts about their rich culture, develop friendships, and experience the deep satisfaction of helping with meaningful, life-affirming community projects.

All ages are welcome, you do not need to speak the native language, and no special skills are necessary. All that is required is an open mind, flexible attitude and a willingness to help! Extended stay options and individualized itineraries are available upon request.

Check out our “Why Volunteer” page for stories, pictures and further inspiration.

Masai Safaris with Eco-resorts.

THE ITINERARY

Day 1 - Arrive into Nairobi International airport. Met and taken to your hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 2 - Drive to Lake Nakuru National Park and your lovely camp on the escarpment. Enjoy a walk across the hills in the afternoon and a visit to a local school before dinner and overnight.

Day 3 - With a picnic lunch, send the day in the park. Nakuru is superb for rhino spotting and offers excellent chances to see leopard as wellReturn to the camp for dinner and overnight.

Day 4 - After an early breakfast, depart south for Maasai Mara via the tea growing highlands of Kenya’s famous Great Rift Valley. This stunning area combines an introduction to what is arguably Kenya's most famous tribe, the Maasai, with an exploration of its richest eco-system. Mara means "contrast" in the Maa tongue, referring to the contrast of fair, savannah land and dark trees in the area. Located to the south of Nairobi, and bordering Tanzania, the Maasai Mara forms part of the huge Serengeti eco-system. The Mara spreads over 1510 square km of rolling plains, sudden rocky outcrops, and green winding rivers.

Not only is the Mara blessed with this stunning landscape, but also its animal diversity is one of the greatest in Africa. Surrounded by the grazing lands of the Maasai people, the Mara is a sanctuary for all of the "Big 5" animals, lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard. The sweet grasses and abundant water ensure a full compliment of plains game such as the impala and Thompsons gazelle, which are of course, closely followed by lion, leopard and cheetah. The deep river pools provide homes for hippo and crocodiles.

The Maasai are arguably the most famous of Kenya's many tribes. With their fearsome reputation as warriors, they single-handedly kept the Arabic slavers out of Kenya's interior, providing a protection that much of the rest of East Africa did not enjoy.

The Maasai are of the Nilotic language group, and descended into Kenya from the northern areas now known as Sudan and Ethiopia. They spread out over the rolling plains and savannah of the Mara area in what is believed to be the 17th Century. The Maasai culture is totally based upon their cattle. Their diet consists of fresh and curdled milk, carried and stored in long, decorated gourds, supplemented by blood tapped from the jugular vein of their cattle. Unfortunately this milk frequently carries bruchellosis, which often causes painful arthritis type pains in the joints and is a frequent disease of the Maasai tribe. For meat the Maasai will slaughter a sheep or a goat, and will only slaughter a cow or bullock for ceremonial purposes.

With the exception of eland and buffalo, the eating of wild game is forbidden by the Maasai culture; therefore the Maasai as a tribe do not hunt. Cattle are the primary source of sustenance, and share the wilderness with the wildlife. Cattle are prime lion bait, which means that the lion is viewed as an enemy, but still only hunted if the lion has killed their cattle. However, the rest of the wildlife is not considered a threat and left alone. The relationship between the Maasai and the wildlife is therefore one of harmony instead of competition, as they do not clear and fence land for farming, but share the land with the animals placed on it.

After a stop for lunch and a stretch of the legs you’ll continue on to the pastoral village of Maji Moto* (swahili for “hot water”), named for its medicinal natural hotsprings. Evening soaks will soothe your bones and warm your spirit after adventure packed days exploring this wild land and helping its people. Upon arrival you will be welcomed by and introduced to the local Maasai who will be your hosts for your volunteer adventure experience.

At the village you will stay in large, comfortable dome tents with thick mattresses on the floor with bedding provided. You have hot water showers in traditional safari bag shower tents and long drop style latrine toilets. There is a central kitchen area for your meals and you enjoy excellent camp fire meals prepared for you by our safari chefs served on tables and chairs for comfort.

Once settled into camp an evening walk will orient you to the village, dinner will be served and you’ll gather around the campfire for introduction to your volunteer adventure experience.

Days 4 -10 - The days will begin with breakfast and a game walk. Early morning is the best time for viewing the wild game and birds of the African savannah. A heart pumping walk with 2 or 3 of the local Maasai warriors will invigorate you and set you up for the day. Imagine the thrill of walking across the open landscape with only the warrior’s spears and knives for protection!

Day of your choice – A full day walking safari with the local medicine man/shaman as your guide. Learn authentic ethnobotony as he shares his secret knowledge of the multiple uses of plants and herbs indigenous to the African savannah. Medicinal and spiritual uses will be explained as well as which are used for hygiene and poison for the arrows. Learn which roots and berries are eatable and if you’re lucky find a honey comb, paint your body with mud and extract this delectable treat! This medicine man is also a shaman with rare and precious spiritual knowledge. He will teach you what it means to “find your energy” and will explain how different plants and herbs are used for connection to God/spirit. Don’t taste without the advice of your shaman however, as some are highly hallucinogenic!

VOLUNTEER OPTIONS

The following choices are available for your volunteer adventure. You may choose to put your professional experience to work or do something completely new and different. Immerse yourself in one project for the entire time or mix it up and try several different projects while in the village. The most important thing is to listen to your heart and the fun and enthusiasm will follow!

Help in School

Classroom instruction

  • teach English and other core subjects; math, geography etc.
  • Arts and crafts
  • Teach physical education, soccer, baseball and other sports
  • Teach music, dance and other creative arts
  • Help cook traditional foods, serve lunch
  • One on one tutoring with math and reading
  • Supervision in classroom and on playground

CONSTRUCTION

Help with ongoing construction projects around village including;

  • design and construct ecological latrines*
  • help with construction and maintenance of traditional manyattas (mud, cow dung and reed huts) ie; smear huts and thatch roofs
  • help with design and construction of a new boarding school at the village* (*as funding allows)

HEALTH

  • Medical clinic
  • HIV/AIDS education and testing
  • Nutritional assessment and counseling
  • Sanitation and hygiene assessment and counseling

Although the Maasai are very proud of their culture with its inherent ceremony and tradition, they are recognizing the need to adapt and adjust some of their practices especially those pertaining to women and girls. Traditionally the Maasai culture advocates polygamy and young girls are often forced to drop out of school, be “circumcised” and sold for marriage. Girls as young as 10 years of age are forced to marry older men (ie: 65 yrs plus) in exchange for a dowry of cattle, sheep or goats. If a woman is widowed, her home, livestock and sometimes even her children are taken and given to the husband’s family.

In the fall of 2005 visionary community leaders Salaton Ole’Ntutu and Hellen Nkuraiya took the very bold step of asking their tribe to change these ancient, obsolete practices. With the help of Eco-resorts volunteers, a “safe house” was built and Ntutu and Nkuraiya are rescuing preadolescent girls from circumcision and subsequent sale for marriage. Nkuraiya took out a personal loan to construct a widow’s village to house the abandoned women and children. Currently they are supporting over 40 girls in the safe house and 18 women with their children in the widow’s village. They are actively implementing strategies to ensure maximum social and economic support of marginalized and impoverished women, especially young girls at risk. An educational sponsorship program has been established and they are developing micro-enterprise programs for the widows.

“Study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan

WIDOWS VILLAGE and FGM SAFEHOUSE VOLUNTEER OPTIONS

  • Development of micro-enterprise/micro-credit programs with sustainable sources of income
  • Development of aloe vera growing and harvesting program
  • Help develop existing artisan programs ie; jewelry production and design and basketweaving.
  • Maternal/child health education
  • Development of domestic violence support program
  • Counsel and support girls, help with homework, teach English
  • Help with basic chores including childcare, cooking, firewood and water collection
  • Help herd cattle

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

  • Identify and develop options for potable water
  • Habitat restoration
  • Environmental education
  • Basic instruction in methods of farming including sustainable agriculture
  • Develop a waste management program including education, litter control and recycling

Day 10 – Leaving the village behind, you’ll head into the Maasai Mara Reserve itself for a couple of days of serious wildlife viewing in this magnificent wilderness area. All your meals and overnights will be at the JK Mara Camp which is based near the Talek River area of the Mara. The Camp is run with the local community Maasai who will be your game spotters and guides while you game drive around the savannah in search of the ‘Big Five’ and other animals.

The JK Mara Camp has large, stand-up tents with full size double or twin beds and ensuite showers and toilets. A lovely big dining area provides superb fresh food with friendly, helpful service for a bit of a ‘spoil’ after your volunteering days in the bush.

Day 11 - Game drives throughout the day and all meals and overnights at the camp. Enjoy a special night game drive and sundowner drinks tonight.

Day 12 - After breakfast, head back to Nairobi with a picnic lunch enroute. Dinner at the famous Carnivore Restaurant and then transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

*MajiMoto village is 60 sq kilometers in size and is home to approximately 7,000 people

Masai Safaris with Eco-resorts.

Includes: All transfers, accommodation, all meals, drinking water, activities as described, private vehicle with driver/guide for the group, all park and camp fees, emergency medical evacuation and local taxes.

Excludes: International flight, Visas, drinks and tips.

Contact Melinda Rees for more information on this safari.

Masai Safaris with Eco-resorts.

Why travel with us? Because Eco-resorts is changing the world-one journey at a time.

Animals and people both need land. Ecotourism provides an alternative income for the people, leaving space for the migratory animals. Eco-resorts actively supports the villages and projects that are protecting East Africa's environment and culture.

We develop self-help eco-projects, which promote wildlife conservation. We also educate both our consumers and our partner camps with two free ezines. We use renewable energy products, reduce paper and plastic consumption in our office and have left the natural vegetation unscathed, resulting in duiker and monitor lizards visiting the office!

We donate 10% of all post-tax profits to fund community and/or conservation projects. Community projects are operated with the local villagers as the operators and managers; Eco-resorts provides advice and guidance when requested, but abides by local beliefs and traditions.

Our current projects include:

- The Children of the Rising Sun Orphanage, which provides accommodation, meals, medicine and schooling for 28 street-children. Our goal is to have a vocational job-training center operational at the home, for the kids and local villagers.

- The Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve, the last remaining tract of coastal lowland forest in Kenya, which provides the only refuge for several endemic birds and mammals, such as the golden-rumped elephant shrew and the Sokoke Pippet. Designated as one of Conservation International's 26 global bio-diversity hotspots (www.conservation.org) and surrounded on all sides by an ever increasing human population, the Forest is in danger of disappearing as trees are cut for carvings, land cleared for subsistence farming and animals trapped for food.

Eco-resorts hopes to ensure that the local villagers become the greatest supporters of the Forest. One of the many projects in the Forest trains the local villagers to breed forest butterfly species for export to the live butterfly market.

With two local butterfly farms already in operation, over 400 people in the area bordering the Forest now have an income that relies upon the continued health of the Forest. Our goal is to employ another 100 people.

Please contact melinda@eco-resorts.com for more detailed information on our ezines and the Eco-resorts community and wildlife conservation projects that your eco-adventure safari will support. Help us make a difference!

Click here to enquire about a safari holiday to Kenya.

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