Masai Tribe Homestay
by Paul Pavao
Me with one of the Maasai warriors in the morning before we left. The stick I'm chewing on is their idea of a toothbrush. You can see their brush fence in the background.
During our homestay in Maasai land (that's what our Maasai friend called it), we stayed in a 4 foot tall Maasai hut. It was warm because the hut had adobe walls made from cow dung. They were thick, and they had several small windows, only about 4 inches square (yes, inches)...
I was in Kenya and Uganda for 4 weeks in May and June for missionary work. Of that two days were spent in Maasai land in June visiting a Maasai village.
It was not an organised tour; I just went on my own with missionary friends!
For the safari I was with a friend from the church in Nakuru who gives tours occasionally. (I've never remembered to ask how he gets these jobs. He used to rent a vehicle for these tours, but our church has now bought him one.)
In Nakuru, we stayed at a hotel. The shower was very dangerous, as the heating unit was right on the shower head.
Both myself and my roommate were shocked trying to turn it on or off. After a couple days, we decided it wasn't worth it, and we took only cold showers.
Then came the homestay. In the evening several young men came in and sang some chants. They then taught one of my young companions to chant the same way.
The one Maasai in the hut who spoke English explained that one particular chant was meant to mimic a hyena's sound, another a lion's.
It was very warm in the hut, and the bed was made of criss-crossed sticks that were flexible enough that they might have been vines. A blanket was thrown across them, and it was the only padding.
The three of us shared a bed that was perhaps 7 feet by 4 feet.
A small fire burned in the middle of the floor both for cooking and, I'm told, to keep wild animals out.
Staying in a real Maasai hut was one of the most interesting things I've ever done.
We saw giraffes, baboons, zebras and ostriches in the wild. We saw baboons, flamingos, and many, many capuchin monkeys in Nakuru state park.
The highlight of the wildlife, though, was when Joseph Koyei, the Maasai cultural representative to the US, took us to an animal orphanage. We not only got to see a number of lions up close--but fenced off--but we got to pet two cheetahs that had been raised there since they were cubs.
It was terrifying, but who could say no to such an opportunity?
We also got to hunt with Maasai at night. They hunted with spears, but they used a flashlight to draw the little antelope in closer. Apparently, they follow the beam. We didn't get one, and none of us Americans could have thrown their spear well enough to hit anything.
What was funny was when they called each other on cell phones to say it was time to return to the village. Very surreal. The cell phones are new to Maasai land.
We got a camel ride in Maasai land with an out of the way Maasai tour camp. The guide there let us get off the camels and try to get near a group of giraffes we saw.
It was one of the most enjoyable, thrilling things I've ever done. We got great pictures, and we chased the giraffes (slowly) for nearly a mile. The guide loved it that we were willing to do that.
Tips and Advice
I don't know what it's like to go on a commercial safari. Knowing Africans, I'll bet it really varies depending on who you get for a tour guide.
Kenya's not a 3rd world country, but Africa is not the US or Europe. Don't expect Western amenities.
And get your shots and take your pills
! Just about every Kenyan I know has had malaria and typhoid at some point.
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