You’ve seen pictures of them – adorned with the brilliant red, blue and purple patterns of the shukas they wear. The men with their spears, tall and proud. The women bejeweled with bright beaded earrings and scarves. These are the some of the oldest inhabitants of East Africa, the Maasai people.
They live in small mud-thatched villages, surrounded by their cattle and smaller livestock. For hundreds of years the Masai have roamed these lands of Kenya and Tanzania, living a free, nomadic lifestyle. Their traditional lands now comprise much of Kenya’s national parks.
A highlight of your safari vacation is a visit with these Maasai people. Many of the tribes welcome visitors to their villages to view up close their culture and lifestyle.
The first thing you’ll notice as you enter a village is the many vivid colours of the Masai’s garments. The bright shukas or sheets they wear contrast strongly with the greens and browns of the landscape.
Adding to this display of colour is the brightly beaded jewelry – necklaces, bracelets and amulets – worn by the women and men.
This beadwork, while very appealing, has more than just an ornamental value. The women who create it express their identity and social status with these handcrafted pieces.
You’ll see displays of this beaded jewelry for sale, and you can help support the village with a purchase… as well as bringing home an authentic souvenir from your travels.
You may get to experience the villagers singing and dancing… and you might even be able to join in! The Maasai are known for their rhythmic call-and-response singing. Perhaps their most widely known dance is the adumu or “jumping dance”.
The warriors form a circle with one person entering the center. This dancer will jump higher and higher to the rhythms of the singers. As he jumps higher the singers will raise the pitch of their voices.
Sometimes guests are invited into the circle, adding to the dancing fun!
Standing in muted contrast to the colourful villagers, you’ll see the browns and grays of the Maasai’s houses, called bomas. Small structures with thatched roofs, it is the job of the Maasai women to build these sturdy dwellings.
The women begin with a framework of timber poles and interweave smaller branches to form a structure. This is then covered with a mixture of mud, grass, cow dung, urine and ash. The entire structure is no more than 3 x 5 m in area and stands only 1.5 m tall.
Yet the family cooks, eats, sleeps and socialises in this modest structure – even sharing space with small livestock! You may be able to peek inside to experience a very different lifestyle.
The men also participate in constructing this homestead. It is their responsibility to build the protective fencing around the village to keep lions and other predators away from the livestock.
We’ll provide you with opportunities to enjoy a visit to a Masai Village. On your Natural World Safari to the Masai Mara Reserve or Amboseli National Park, you can partake of this optional excursion. The cost is only $20 and payable to the village chief. Just ask your driver/guide who will make all the arrangements.
Should you have any other special requests for your safari adventure please don’t hesitate to ask your guide or contact our offices. You can contact us online here.
Or, you can speak directly with one of our specialists by calling +254 700 372 169.
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