Of all the tribes in Kenya the Maasai are the most revered and respected for maintaining their culture; especially the ceremonies that mark rites of passage. It is said, “A Maasai without culture is like a zebra without stripes”. The late Joseph Campbell in his book “The Power of Myth”, referred to the archetypal human need for ceremony and ritual. Your time with the famous Maasai warriors will be rich with culture, ceremony, ritual and tradition. Indoctrination into the Maasai’s ancient cultural practices will provide a profound, once in a lifetime, deeply mystical, experience.
As a warrior in training you will also learn ancient primitive living skills, including survival techniques, self-reliance and connection to God “Enkai” and earth, skills virtually forgotten in the western world. You will face fears, internal and external, and take a trip back in time experiencing life at its most basic level. This is a truly life changing experience!
Day 1 - Arrive into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Met at the airport after clearing immigration and customs and taken to the Fairview Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 2 - After breakfast, head out in your private vehicle into the Great Rift Valley and Lake Naivasha. Arrive at your lake side hotel in plenty of time for lunch. Then head out to the Mt Longonot National Park and do the hike up to rim of this dormant volcano. A quite steep climb in areas, this hike will help to acclimatize you to the altitude of this almost mile high African savannah plateau and gives stunning views of the Great Rift itself. Hike back down and return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 3 – Breakfast at the hotel and then drive to Lake Nakuru National Park and the Lake Nakuru Lodge. Game drive enroute to the lodge and then game drive all afternoon in search of the Black and White Rhino, flamingos and leopard for which the park is famous. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Day 4 - After an early breakfast, depart south for the 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 Masai 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 Masai tribe. For meat the Masai 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 “Warrior Training Base Camp” at 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 its people. Upon arrival you will be welcomed by and introduced to the local Maasai warriors who will be your hosts and instructors for immersion in warrior training.
At the Base Camp you will stay in large, comfortable dome tents with thick mattresses on the floor and with bedding provided. You have hot water showers in traditional safari bag shower tents and long drop style latrine toilets. There is a central mess 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 warrior training and experience the first of many ceremonies; presentation of your warrior dress. The formal coming of age ceremony in the Maasai culture is marked by the change in clothing from the blue cloak of the newly circumcised boy to the traditional red shuka of the warrior. Not only is this garb a badge of honor, but also a protective shield as it is well known that most animals of the savannah fear the red color of the fierce Maasai warrior. It is said that lions especially recognize this color and will keep a safe distance from a passing band of warriors. Each night warriors in training will take turns with night watch; sitting up around the campfire with fellow warriors, and patrolling the camp for dangerous animals.
Day 5 - Formal warrior training begins with a full day walking safari into the open savannah. Today you will learn the most important survival skill in Maasai land; animal tracking, and identification. Spend several hours walking and learning how the Maasai people attune themselves with nature. You learn about different animal prints and droppings, wind direction, scents of animals, specific bird calls alerting one of impending rain or dangerous animals, and other animal sounds and signals. Experience life as a warrior, as you walk across the open plains with your Maasai escorts. Learn how to throw the spear and use your knive and shield for protection. Imagine the thrill of walking on small cattle or game trails through open bush land, with only the warriors’ spears and knives for protection!
Arrive back at camp for dinner, evening soak in the hot springs and closing of the day fire circle ceremony and story telling.
Day 6 - Another walking safari starts the day with the local medicine man 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!
After lunch you’ll visit the local widow’s village where construction and maintenance of the manyattas (cow dung houses) will be explained. You’ll learn how they make the superb beadwork jewelry, weave baskets, thatch roofs, repair mud and reed huts and herd the cattle that form the entire basis of the Maasai tribe's economy.
Evening will provide the opportunity to put some of the herbs you gathered to use. In a special evening tea ceremony you will drink tea brewed from the herbs you gathered to give you strength and courage. The ceremonial practices of “Maasai Markings” will be described including teeth pulling, tattooing, burning, piecing etc. The courageous few will be then be given the opportunity to be “marked” by slowly burning the petals of the camphor bush into the skin. Don’t worry the chants of your fellow warriors will keep your adrenaline going and your courage enlivened while you undergo this famous rite of passage ceremony. The day will close again with the ceremonial fire circle.
Day 7 - “A day in the life of a warrior”. Today you’ll learn more ancient primitive living skills as you venture into the bush again. Construct your own temporary shelter for use while out in the bush during your warriorship and learn how to make fire with nothing but sticks and grass! You’ll learn how to puncture the jugular vein of a cow to extract blood for drinking. Drink, dance, chant and jump with the warriors as you get psyched for your afternoon mock battle. Paint ball or dodge ball Maasai style, you’ll throw cactus sticks at each other til the last man stands alone- the bravest and fiercest of all!
Evening fire circle will be great fun as you reflect and recant the stories of the heated battle of the day. The Morani Opie (bravest warrior) will be named and given special recognition in the closing of the day ceremony.
Day 8 - Awaken at dawn for an early morning ceremonial cleansing bath on your last day with the warriors. After cleansing, the warriors will paint your body and face with red rchre in preparation for your graduation day. Warrior Training has culminated with this special day where you will literally go into the bush to spend the night.
You’ll visit the local goat herd and choose one for your graduation feast. After constructing your shelter and gathering fire wood watch as the goat and God are thanked for the gift of its life. You’ll witness the deep reverence and respect the Maasai have for life and will learn as everyone who lives off the land knows, how to slaughter an animal, with great skill and care wasting nothing. The goat roast cerebration will be followed by the graduation ceremony where each graduate will be called forth and given a special Maasai name and graduation present. After your memorable days and nights in the Maasai Mara you will truly be a “MORANI OPIE” brave warrior!
Day 9 – Today is a day for a little volunteering in the area and a chance to relax after your efforts over the last few days. The village is building a small, semi-permanent roofed area that can be used for meals and cooking for its guests and they can always use some spare hands to help build the walls and make the furniture. There is also a day school near the village where volunteers are welcome to help teach English, share songs, arts and crafts, or just play with the children. Relax at the camp, take a walk using your new found skills or simply chat and talk with your fellow warriors.
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 warrior days in the bush.
Day 11 – Game drives throughout the day and all meals and overnights at the camp.
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.
US$ 2,775 per person.
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.
2011 Departure Dates (arrival into Nairobi for Day 1 as below)
*This 12 day journey may be adjusted and adapted to suit the needs of yourself or your group.
Contact Melinda Rees for
more information on this safari.
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Animals and people both need land. Ecotourism provides an alternative income
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