When I was 16 I was lucky enough to be taken to Kenya to spend a week on safari. It was one of the most amazing things I have done. In terms of travel was the furthest I have ever been away from home at that time. I went with my parents and on the way we met a lovely couple who were to be with us in our Land Rover for the full week. We stayed in a variety of lodges and camps and got to meet some of the nicest people I have ever met. This is my entry into the Audley Blogger Challenge.
Visiting Treetops Lodge Kenya
We arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after travelling for what felt like forever… Roughly 20-25 people were booked onto the same trip as us and we were quickly split between 3 Land Rovers. That was your designated vehicle and driver for the week. We were lucky enough to get Duncan, who was always cheery, polite and very intelligent.
Heading out of the city and to our first stop for a one night stop at Treetops Lodge Kenya, visited by The Queen of England II when she was a princess. The lodge is built in the Aberdare National Park and is built on the path of the migration of elephants.
The Treetops Lodge Kenya is a tall thin building made of wood to blend into the natural surroundings. It has a waterhole area for animals of all kinds to visit at any hour of the day.
Treetops Lodge Kenya was built for people to come and get a natural sense of the wild animals. While we were there I got to eat breakfast watching the giraffes and say goodnight to the elephants.
Each room had a small window and from that window you could see any type of wildlife. When we arrived we were welcomed by a monkey at our window and later saw the feet of an antelope.
What I Saw In The Maasai Mara National Reserve
We spent 3-4 days going out into the Maasai Mara National Reserve driving around to see different animals. Our great guide and driver Duncan knew all the best places to spot the animals.
As we drove round the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Duncan would tell us stories about the animals and he taught he lots of useful facts. Here are some of the things I remember (I say remember because it was now 10 years ago!!)
Giraffes are said to be colour blind, they can only see one colour only and that colour is red.
Male lions are said to have several female partner, they spend up to 7 days with each female while the others look after the young and do the hunting. The lions are said to be able to mate up to every 21 minutes.
Zebras are not identical as each of them are individually striped. Not any 2 Zebras are the same stripes or design.
Elephants are known to suck in water and combine with mud will spray that on themselves to make a coating on their skin. This coating then becomes a type of suncream to help protect them from the suns rays. There tusks are also used for much more than just fighting such as clearing off bark from a tree, clearing a path and digging.
While out on the Maasai Mara National Reserve we were lucky enough to see a bull elephant. Although the vehicles had stopped moving and everyone was very quiet the bull elephant noticed us, and wasn’t a fan. He saw us as a threat, and began chasing towards us. The van moved on and was undamaged but was quite scary, though there is a level of danger the guides were trained to handle both the animals and get the people to safety.
By far my favourite part of the safari was getting to see a baby cheetah and her mother. We were lucky enough earlier on in the week to see a mother and her cubs out on a teaching lesson. She had got them sat watching her catching prey. The other cheetah we had seen was casually following our van on a dirt path, her and her baby were walking along as though we weren’t there.
Our guide Duncan heard on the radio of a lion hunting on the Maasai Mara National Reserve, though we missed the hunt we caught the lions eating the prey. We were very lucky to get so close to the lions and even watch them eating. They had caught a wildebeest though you couldn’t tell all that well once we arrived.
Meeting The Maasai Tribe
One of the days we were scheduled to go and meet the Maasai tribe. We were asked to bring some small tokens to give the children of the tribe. This was something that the tour operator had suggested, it was not mandatory. We chose to take some small soft balls to play with the children which were a big hit. It was lovely to meet the tribe as it was a completely new way of seeing life, I was 16 at the time as quite naive in my thinking so this trip was very educational for me.
We were welcomed in by the tribe to their homes and shown how they live, make a living and their traditions. The homes were split up into 2 benches, one side of the room was for sleeping and the other for sitting. There was also a small area at one side of the hut to cook with a hole in the roof for the smoke. Then we were shown a ceremonial song and dance by the women of the tribe, the girls and women joined in and were shown how to do the dance. The ladies of the tribe showed us around the homes of the people living there and what facilities they had available.
I learnt about how each of the women in the tribe made jewellery to sell to visitors and in the local town. There was the option to buy from the ladies after looking around before leaving but we didn’t at this time. This would in turn then buy them more live stock and food for the village. The homes were small huts made of clay and animal dung to create the cement, the rest was manufactured from wood and sticks bound together by strips of leaves and a straw food.
After having looked around the homes and village, we were shown the traditional jumping amongst the men of the tribe wearing the lion skin hat. Some of us were even asked to join in. We also noticed that each tribe generally wear specific colours to mark their own and signify a united front.
Turn back to 11 years ago when I (Helen) went to Kenya with my parents. We spent a week on safari and got to see some of the most amazing sights. I got to meet the men and women of the Maasai Tribe and got to see a lion eating a wildebeest. I loved it so much that for the last 10 years I have been hoping to go back. I would love to go back and get more and better photos, after all cameras have come a long way since then! . . . . . #maasaimaratribe #kenya #africa #maasaimara #wildlife #maasaimarapark #naturalwayoflife #nature #kenya #nigeria #nairobi #giraffe #masaimara #tribe #familytravel #coupletravel #adventuretravel #adventure #adventureisoutthere #explore #adventureawaits #naturephotography #adventureculture
Maasi Tribe Culture
I learnt so much about the traditions of Maasai tribe culture and the 3 steps that the boys go through to become a man. The 3 steps are to kill a lion with a spear, go through circumcision and be the highest jumper. This would also include a new leader and chief of the tribe, he would get to have not just one wife but two. The circumcision was to be done in front of the whole tribe and the boy could not cry or flinch. If they cried they would be thrown out of the tribe.
Girls had to go through other tasks to prove they were ready to be a woman and were worthy to be partnered with a male and be part of the Maasai tribe. They also had to be circumcised, this was allowed to be in private with other women and the girl was allowed to cry. The Maasai tribe culture circumcise the girls as they feel that when having sex they should not see it as pleasure but to create life. The wealth of the tribe was measured in livestock, the more goats you had the wealthier you are.
We even got to visit the border of Tanzania and Kenya and the marker they use. As well as visiting the border of the equator, we were shown that at one side of the equator the water flows down the draw way one and on the other side the other.
I loved every minute of our trip to Kenya and would love to go back and take Cora with me this time.
If you are interested in winning your own chance at a African safari experience check out Audley Travel. To enter share your best wildlife photograph or video on your social media. Use the phrases #AudleySafari and @AudleyTravel on instagram or twitter post. You can also share it directly on the Audley Travel Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/audleytravel/ . To find out more or enter via the website, visit www.audleytravel.com/social. Entries must be posted between 20th August – 23rd September