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An African Adventure in the Maasai Mara

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I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to visit and meet with the Maasai Mara tribe in Africa. I have the travel bug and there is so much of this world that i can't wait to sink my teeth into! My journey to Africa was truly captivating.

We flew into Governors Camp in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, named in honor of the Maasai people who live there. We quickly made our way to the nearest village, a privilege that many tourists would not get to witness, but we had been given special circumstances as we were there with a film crew to promote travel to Africa.

The "village" comprised of small huts built in a horse shoe formation, all the huts faced inwards and there was only one entrance into the ring of houses. The huts were very simple, four walls, circular in design with thatched roofs from sticks. We had arrived before set rise and the inside of the village was packed full of cattle. The floor was deep with mud and covered in cow dung. It was only on closer inspection that i realized that the homes were actually built from this mud/cow dung mixture! Molded together and baked by the sun till it was hard.

At night to keep the live stock safe from neighboring lions, they were brought into the safety of the ring of houses, and when the sun comes up during the day they are let out to graze (but under a watchful eye).

As i spent the morning with the Maasai people, they showed us two ceremonial songs and dances. The first was a song that the men sing after they have returned from their "walk about". Its customary at the age of 14 for boys to go off in to the wild and spend time learning how to survive and become a man. Upon their return they wear decorative robes and ornate head dresses and line up in order as they perform. The boys all sing and then each takes in it turn to jump. Hands clasped firmly by their side, they jump repeatedly up in the air, each trying to jump higher than the other. It was explained to me that this was a display of masculinity and the dance was a chance to impress the women as they return to the village. The higher you can jump, the more women you can attract! I guess there's no need for dating apps like Tinder or E Harmony in the Maasai!

 

The second song the ladies performed in response to the men, they also lined up and wore brightly colored garments and then sung a beautiful melody welcoming the men home from their travels. The music was hypnotic and enchanting, with a rich depth of sound created using only their voices.

 

Next up was my turn to sample the latest in Maasai fashion, despite the language barrier the older ladies of the tribe quickly started adorning me with different shawls and placing beaded jewelry around my neck. All which had been hand made by the women themselves. Brightly colored beads that are woven together to create fantastic patterns, with coin discs and chains as features. There were necklaces, bracelets, head bands and earrings. I loved playing dress up and enjoyed the brightly colored garments, and was surprised to see fabrics and patterns that have definitely influenced high street fashion in western society.

 

 

We said our good byes and i was so touched that the ladies gave me a few pieces of jewelry. It was an astonishing morning having a brief insight into how this tribe functions on a day to day basis, meeting the children and hearing their stories (albeit it, through an interpreter). Our next stop was safari!

We traveled onwards to this incredible hotel which comprised of simple tents but it sat on a hill top and had the most staggering view of the plains. I was informed that the hotel unlike many in africa did NOT have an electric fence around it, and that i should always be on the look out for animals, especially at night time. One particular morning, before sun rise i was suddenly awakened by a loud thumping noise directly outside my tent. Now, its hard to explain, but do you remember that scene in Jurassic Park with the T- Rex, where the kids are stuck in the jeep in the rain and there is a cup of water on the dashboard. Each time theres a loud thump the water in the glass vibrates, and the thumps become closer and closer and the noise is eery and unlike anything you've heard before…. yeh! That was me! In the dark in my tent, oh did i mention there was also no electricity and we had to rely on old oil lamps, which of course had burnt out whilst i was asleep. So I'm in total darkness, bolt upright in bed, listening to this strange noise that sounds unbelievably close to where I'm sitting. Unsure what to do, and to be honest (theres no need for bravado here) abbbbsolutely petrified, I'm glued to my bed and afraid to move or make a sound. When i hear a "psssst!". At the very back of my tent a guard that patrols the grounds at night whilst we sleep was trying to get my attention thorough the canvas of my tent wall. He informed me that there was an elephant right outside my tent door, and that apparently this one elephant liked to wander into the camp ground because  he was a big fan of the berries that grew on the bushes there. And, of course, one of those bushes was slap bang in front of my tent! Now, here's the best part, he wasn't allowed to move the elephant on, and i had to just wait till he had his fill and moseyed along on his own accord…… 45 minutes i waited for Nelly the elephant to get his chow down, trapped in my tent in the dark. When i finally heard him move on, i nervously peeked through the tent door only to see the gift left waiting for me at my door step, a big hot pile of steaming elephant poop!

 

As i mentioned before the camp site we were staying in was quite primitive with its amenities, but that meant i got to experience a safari shower. This was simply a bag full of water (cold water by the way!). That was hooked up high in a tree and had a shower nozzle extension on it, and when you pulled a rope the water released. It was quite liberating showering in the open air like this, watching the breathtaking view, but of course, with a bikini on to protect my modesty.

 

The safari itself was exceptional, we travelled out over 3 days, first thing in the morning and late in the evening, as the animals don't like to be out in the direct heat of the sunshine during the day. I was fortunate enough to see giraffes, zebras, hippos, gazelles, hyenas, and of course, lions! We even managed to witness a fresh kill as the lions had taken down an elephant earlier that morning and were busy munching away at their breakfast. It was sad to see but you respect that its all part of the cycle of life in Africa. We drove around in open top jeeps, and as our driver took us closer in to see the feeding lions, i swear i caught eye contact with one of the lioness's whose face was covered in blood. There was just that heart beat of a moment when i realized the awesome power this animal possessed. I had been busy peering over the side of my jeep trying to get a better view, and in that one look from her, it dawned on me that there was nothing stopping her from just jumping up and climbing into my vehicle! I quickly leant back and asked to switch seats with my guide :)

My African adventure was truly unforgettable and here are just a few photos from the many thousand that i took:

 

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