Day 7 (September 16, 2013)   Maasai Mara


    This day is completely for watching wild life in Maasai Mara reserve. Our target is locating the great migration of wildebeest and taking our chances of watching a crossing through river Mara by some of them.

Maasai Mara map

   The spots marked at map are:

 0- Rhino Tourist Camp
 1- Lookout Hill   

 2- Bridge over river Mara and Mara Triangle's Visitors Center
 3- Paradise plain
 4 y 5- Popular crossing points


   We are at bed until think we’ve got enough rest, but this already happens around 8 AM. We go to the dining room, which is the bigger building of the whole place, and enjoy our breakfast. Customers in safari have already left and we’re alone with the staff of the camp, although later a couple leaving today appears.

Rhino Tourist Camp   We get a talk with Jackson, a young man we’re introduced as the manager who explains he already knows about us as got a call from the man we disturbed so many tames by phone last night and seems to be the big boss here. We talk about what still need to be paid after the 60€ deposit I send months ago and the activities we can do today. I have in mind visiting a Maasai village, which Jackson says is 40$ for the both of us. As the room with full board is 270$ for the three days, and the deposit is translated to 80$, I pay him 230$ from the 260$ I brought saved (100 from Lake Bogoria entrance and 160 from Maasai Mara entrance for today). With all the counting closed, we’re going to meet here at 9:30 AM for the visit to a Maasai village.

   The camp is full of live, with monkeys and birds, and the green of the garden at daylight.

   At 9:30 AM is Jackson itself who take us out of the camp, after having changed the jeans and T-shirt by maasai dress, with machete and club. He shows some things in our way, as a small plant which maasai use for dying in red. It is not looks possible until he takes one, break it and rub it on our arms, painting it in red. The soil we’re walking over is quite red too, as the termite mound we use for taking some pictures.

Termite mound in our way to Maasai villageTermite mound in our way to Maasai village

   Then we get the village, which is quite near, where two young men are waiting to welcome us and join our group. They keep telling curious things about their lives speaking good English. Jackson has put one of their typical cloaks over me and another one of them gives me a hard stick from acacia, although I’m still far from looking as one of them.

Maasai village
Cabaña masáiChildren in Maasai village

   We’re taken to the center of the village. I already knew maasai villages were circular, with the huts in making the circle and leaving the interior for the cattle, in order to protect them. So, the place where we are now is full of cow feces. They also have here two more smaller circles made with long branches for sheep and goats, although the one we get in we find a couple of calves in there. These places are fences high for avoiding the cheetah could get inside by a jump, as they explain to us.

Corral in Maasai villageCorral in Maasai village

   Back to the big center we’re shown a dry skin belonging to a lion’s head, and sewed by two of its sides. I cannot see what it is used for until one of them put it in his head, like a hat. We all have turns for wearing it while they show us how they do fire. I already knew they used a stick for it, but I thought it would be just as touristic show, now they can get lighters, until I’m surprised by how quick this system is. It is a clever way of getting fire and the trick is in the wood of the main piece used as base. They do a hole on it and make an “exit” for the hole, the whole thing gets the shape of a keyhole. The stick is used in the hole and, as it is harder than the wood of the piece with the holes, the friction in the hole by the stick used as a drill, makes the generated shavings coming out from the hole through the exit created and smoking hot. The process can be very quick, almost as using a lighter, and even less if there is some wind!

Getting fire at Maasai styleGetting fire at Maasai style

   They make me try and I realize the difficulty: keeping the stick in the hole. As I try harder to move the stick it gets out from the hole quicker. So I take a lot more time in getting the fire. Eva tries too.

   I’m still impressed when they start to sing and we move in a soft dance until the moment of the big jumps starts. We’re turning in our vertical jumps in front of Eva following the rhythm of the low tones from the voices of my partners, which keep giving to this activity its appropriate soundtrack.

Maasai group pictureStarting Maasai dance

   Then we go where their older women are working making this tribe’s typical beaded bracelets and necklaces, under the shadow of a tree, while the young women are with their babies.
Inside a Maasai hut
   We go inside one of the huts where we can check there is only one hole in the walls as window, but its main purpose is as smoke exit, as it is located just above the fire place they use as kitchen. We’re surprised by not noticing any special smell inside and by knowing they use just a dried skin of cow as mattress. Then they show us some of their “jewelry” pieces for selling. I know this is part of the visit and is a big part in their way of live too, so I end purchasing a necklace with a tooth they state is from a cheetah, by 2000 ksh. I know it is overpriced, but I feel like helping and I’ve got the deal any tips for the tour are included there. All of them have accepted this.

   There is a souvenir market set outside. I only get a small wooden zebra here.

Maasai market at the villageWomen working in Maasai necklaces

   Here would end the visit to the Maasai village, but we’re still taken to the school, at about 200 meters from there. We’ve seen some children in the village, but the ones with age for the school from that village, and the ones in the surroundings, are all here. We see over the door of each classroom the different grades and we can take a look inside through the glass less windows. What I didn’t expect is a teacher coming out from his classroom to welcoming us and asking us to get in and take his place. I’m so embarrassed while Eva is taking a picture of me in front of all the students and they must notice it considering their laughs when I simply wave my hand and go out as fast as I can. I have in mind too how I’m dressed now.

Maasai schoolMaasai school

   The teacher shows us the visiting book to write something on it and comments any help is well received for helping the children. I just give a 500 ksh bill and leave the place to the camp.

Rhino Tourist Camp gate   In our way we say goodbye to the two men have shown their village and have made this visit so gentle and one of them gives me the stick I’ve been wearing all the time as a gift. We can see the big gate of Rhino tourist Camp which didn’t help last night and we can figure out what happened then when we see the signs just in front of it. We stopped the car in a way the lights were pointing to those signs, keeping our camp actually hidden behind us. This is the explanation too why there was no sign for the Rhino tourist Camp, as we were actually at its door.

   Well, it’s 11 AM and we have no more plans for the rest of today. It would be great if it was power and internet, but there is none of them, so just relax at bed waiting for lunch time.

   Somehow, Jackson knocks the door and asks me for a favor: some people coming for lunch time got a breakdown in their car close to here and my car is the only available in the camp. I go with Jackson for the rescue without a second thought, this is a community and this is the chance of being one of them.

Our car at Rhino Tourist Camp

   Jackson points me for driving by ways out of the main road. That is the trick for not going to 10 Km/h! When we arrive some other cars have come to help. When I’m back in the room with my wife we’re getting fun remembering last night: who would tell us then would be us going to rescue somebody!

   We enjoy our lunch and Jackson joins us and eat at our side, confirming our new relationship. We spend the afternoon in the room running the tablet out of battery. Maybe it has been a lot of rest for us. About 5 PM I’m going out for a walk around the camp and chasing birds and monkeys with my camera. As the sunset comes, there is a frenetic bird activity in the trees.

Monkeys in Rhino Tourist CampBirds in Rhino Tourist Camp

   At 6:30 PM there is still daylight and, although it is the time, the generator is not running until it is completely dark and we can put all our batteries to charge. The rest of the guests must do the same as electricity is coming and going intermittently as it seems there is overcharged. It is happening even when dining in the only spare seat we’ve found in the crowded dining room.

   We can eat when the light is stable and go to bed soon knowing tomorrow we will wake up really early for a very special day in Maasai Mara.