Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Walking with Maasai

From the Maasai Mara to “Walking with Maasai”!

Earlier in our trip we had been told about a project being run in Southern Kenya, not too far from the Maasai Mara called “Walking with Maasai”. It got a great review and after looking up their website/ Facebook page we decided to check it out too.

“Walking with Maasai” is actually a bit off the tourist trail, located in the remote village of Olorte among the Loita Hills and the ride there is often a bumpy one. It is an eco-camp run by a group of Maasai elders, setup as an income generation activity with profits going back into the local community.

Crossing the river as we left the Mara
Not as deep  as we thought :-)
Road in and out of the Mara...does it look bad in the photo?? Because it was
truly horrible to drive on
A very straight road and much better to drive on....
....until we arrived at this
That crossing was worse than it looked!

We stayed in one of the camp’s permanent tents, equipped with toilet and shower (hot water bucket) at around $90pn. The tent had an incredible view looking out over the Loita Hills and each night John, one of the camp’s resident Maasai, would make us a huge campfire.

Our tent at Walking with Maasai
Very comfy
Our innovative toilet seat, made from a real elephant
And our bucket shower which actually worked very well 
View out from the tent
View looking back at the tent

There are plenty of activities to do including a couple of different treks (day and overnight), horse-riding, tea in a Maasai home and more. We opted to do the horse-riding which went for the whole morning and took us past Maasai homes and farms. We had hoped to see wild dog, occasionally seen in the area, but were not lucky on this occasion. Still we had a very pleasant ride, accompanied by the resident Maasai Sable, a young male named “Tusker” (after the beer). Tusker seemed a tad confused; perhaps he thinks he’s a dog? J

Meet Tusker.....a rather confused animal...
.....he thinks he's a dog. He followed us on our horse ride ALL the way!
My horse Buoyant
Cruising along
Tusker: A Maasai pet
Isn't he beautiful?!

We were also fortunate to be able to visit another project under “Walking with Maasai” the “Osiligi Bead Work “. In the Maasai language “Osiligi” means “hope” and there’s no doubt that the beautiful work being done by around a dozen Maasai women should be bringing hope to their community. This was a highly impressive aspect of the project with the profits from the bead jewellery going into the education of children in the community and helping women to support their families. Furthermore the jewellery itself was amazing; while I had loved all of the Maasai jewellery I’d seen up to that point, I knew that I would never where any of it, particularly when I got home. This jewellery however has tried to merge traditional Maasai jewellery with western tastes and the result is beautiful, colourful designs. Needless to say, Mike and I did our bit in supporting Maasai women through the purchase of many of their amazing beaded designs J

The bead project
A couple of the women involved in the project
So pretty....
.....and so colourful. I had LOTS of fun here :-)

We spent two nights in total at the camp; it would have been easy to spend more in the very relaxed surroundings, however our budget didn’t really allow for it.

Back at the camp on the river
One of our Maasai, John, chilling by the fire
Our horses enjoying their afternoon off

Truthfully I’m not sure whether I’d recommend the camp or not…..the project’s location as noted is a bit off the beaten track and when you go there you need to be fully self-sufficient. No food or drinks are available. We had asked the guys there when we arrived if they could organise a traditional meal on our second night, however this turned out to be too difficult or not enough time for them; perhaps if you request this upon booking?? The activities on offer are great and for the most, reasonably priced (I thought), however I did feel that the camp itself was quite overpriced. We actually opted for one of the permanent tents, despite costing more than using our own tent, in order to get some value for our money (with the permanent tents we at least got a toilet and shower). I actually wasn’t aware of the cost of the camp prior to heading out there; had I, I probably would have decided against it. Nonetheless it was a great experience, just one that should be weighed up on an individual basis J

From our tent at sunset
And again at sunrise. What a sight to wake up to?!

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