Contiki East Africa Safari – Day 7: Maasai Village and Amboseli National Park
Updated: May 20
We started our day with another sleep in, not needing to leave the camp until 8:00 AM! Our first stop was something I was really looking forward to, a visit to a local Maasai Village. The Maasai are local people that still live by the traditions of their ancestors. They were historically more nomadic than they are today, but still move their herds of cows around to graze on land depending on the rains. Sometimes they can be away from their families for months.
We were greeted by the Chief of their village and some local elders who escorted us into their village. I was a bit unease at the beginning as they didn’t have masks on, but we were then assured that they had all been vaccinated. Kenya prioritized those associated with the tourism industry to get vaccinated first as that is such a large portion of their income as a country.
After being brought into their village, we were taken into their livestock pen where it was feeding time for the goats. They ran to the trough to eat and the babies jumped at their mother’s to start feeding. Then, they invited the girls to milk a goat as that was the “women’s work”. It was quite funny watching people try to milk a goat while the babies were competing for milk from the same goat. To say they were aggressive is an understatement.
After the goats were milked, kind of, the women of the village dressed us in traditional Maasai clothing for the rest of our tour. We then left the village where we were welcomed by the men and women in their traditional song and dance. The men would jump up and down as high as they can while throat singing and the women sung along with them, not throat singing. They then invited us to join them.
We then learned how they start a fire rubbing a stick in a hole with cow dung as the tinder. Before they did so, though, they prayed.
Shortly after, they showed us one of their houses which was made with a mixture of dried cow dung and mud and a thatched roof. Then, they separated the men and the women for “intimate discussions” about gender roles. We asked them questions and they asked us questions – they were fascinated by the fact that we are only allowed to have one wife. Some of the Maasai have over 12 wives! We spoke about their initiations – they used to kill a lion to show their strength, but no longer do that due to a respect of nature and the laws of Kenya.
After our “guy talk”, we met back up with the ladies and were invited to buy souvenirs to support their local school. The prices were slightly high, but I felt it was important to help them out.
As we were wrapping up, we were invited to something that was not on the itinerary – a visit to the nearby school that the children go to. The fundraising for the school was led by the current village chief, although it is now run by a different person as the village chief can’t do both. It was a shame that we didn’t know as we would have brought something for the children, but nevertheless it was an eye-opening experience. We saw them playing soccer with an old shirt bundled up in the shape of a ball with scraps of yarn before meeting one of their classes of older children. We introduced ourselves, where we are from and what we do professionally before they introduced themselves and said what they aspire to be. There were a lot of future pilots, lawyers, doctors, and, to our Trip Manager’s delight, tour guides. They then taught us a math problem before we broke up into small groups with one of us speaking with 3 kids. It was a bit difficult with masks on, but once we pulled out our phones, they were fascinated to see the animals we had seen so far and asked lots of questions about life in America – sports, high rise buildings, etc.
After the visit, we then saw the first of three boarding facilities they are trying to build for the students so they don’t have to walk 8 KM a day to get to school and also showed us how they prepare lunch. We then visited the preschool where the children sung us a song and we sang them “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” and “the itsy bitsy spider”, and by sang I mean we absolutely butchered both of those songs.
Then, it was time to part ways with the school children and head back to the camp. We are going to get the contact info for the school so we can send over some supplies, and maybe a soccer ball or two, to thank them for their hospitality and hopefully treat them to a few things they normally wouldn’t have access to.
We headed back to the camp for lunch before heading to Amboseli National Park for an afternoon game drive which was fantastic! We first came across a bunch of giraffes!
On our way to see other animals, we passed an ostrich and a water buffalo in the midst of taking its head up from drinking water.
On the way back, we came across a beautiful sight of zebras drinking at a watering hole. It seemed like it was right out of a movie or National Geographic documentary.
We then came across a hippo, which was walking around eating the grass along the water. This was one of the most active hippos we have seen so far, and it was amazing to hear it as it ate. The sounds it made were quite louder than I expected, almost like a grumbling as it navigated the area and ate. We also learned that some birds like to stay by the hippo while it eats as the hippo tends to unearth some things that it eats as well.
There was a large lake in the park with hundreds of flamingos.
We saw a baboon nursing one of her babies!
After a few minutes watching the baboons, we continued where we saw a herd of elephants with quite a few small babies, which were feeding on their mothers. At one point, we became part of the herd while we were on a road that was the high point between two bodies of water. While we were driving, elephants decided to use the road as well so we had elephants in front of us and behind us. It was surreal!