Masai Village Cultural Visit
Meet Africa’s Nomadic People – The Maasai and Samburu
Touch a moment of safari magic
You may see them by the roadside during your safari travels in Kenya – tall, lean, and brilliantly adorned in their bright reds and blues. Their cattle are always nearby. These are the Maasai and the closely related Samburu peoples – the oldest tribes of East Africa.
Their cattle and goats are central and sacred to their way of life, economically and spiritually as well. For they believe it is their mission to care for these animals, who in turn supply them with meat, milk, and the means from which to barter.
The men dressed in their brightly colored shukas are trained as warriors, to hunt game and keep their families and livestock safe. Both men and women are always adorned with colorful, hand-made beaded bracelets and necklaces that show off their skills and also their status.
While on safari, you can add a special cultural moment by visiting with these nomadic people in their nearby villages comprised of mud-thatched structures called bomas. Here, you can meet and learn about their lifestyle, their customs, and ceremonies.
This may well be the standout experience of your safari adventure.
Visiting The Village
Arriving at the village is a study in contrasts – you’ll take in the muted greys and browns of the bomas, while the bright reds, blues, and purples worn by the villagers show off in stark relief.
Their livestock are never far off – you’ll see them in the small corrals made of sharpened poles and branches to fend off predators.
While here you may have an opportunity to visit inside one of the bomas, usually constructed by the women from small poles and smaller branches, then covered with a cement of mud, grass, dung, urine, and ash.
Although you’ll have to stoop to fit inside the 1.5M (less than 5 feet) high structure, the family eats, sleeps, and carries on all activities in this modest home.
It’s the men’s responsibility to build the corrals and the protective fencing around the village to ward off the big cats and any other predators that are attracted to the livestock.
Music and Dance
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”.
Bright Beads Everywhere
As mentioned, the women and men adorn themselves with colorful beaded necklaces, bracelets, and amulets. Fashioned from wood, bone, metal, or glass, the brightly-colored beads are more than just jewelry. There is symbolism to each color and design, representing status as well as beauty, strength, health, and purity.
While at the village you’ll have opportunities to purchase a great variety of beaded jewelry as a memento of your visit. For the Maasai, their jewelry is an important source of income.
“The Jumping Dance”
If you’ve ever seen video of the Maasai in ceremony it was most likely images of the men jumping and rising high into the air. This joyful jumping dance is called the Adamu and is a traditional way for the men to show off their strength. And perhaps attract a wife.
Forming a circle with one warrior in the center, the dance is powered by the villagers’ call-and-response singing. And it’s not uncommon for guests such as yourself to be invited into the circle to join the fun. You’ll be jumping next to a tall Maasai… but don’t expect to jump higher than him!
Where Are Their Villages?
On your safari, there will be plenty of chances to visit these indigenous people as their villages are located in or near several national parks. One famous park, the Masai Mara is named in their honor. The Mara is famous for its big cats and great herds of wildebeests, but while here don’t miss an opportunity to pause and meet these fascinating local people.
Amboseli Park is famous for its great numbers of free-ranging elephants marching before the snow-capped majesty of Mt. Kilimanjaro. But you can also visit a Maasai village here to bring a cultural moment to your safari adventure.
Should you be journeying north to Samburu Park, be sure to visit the local Samburu village. Though not as well known as the Maasai, the Samburu are considered their traditional cousins. Their culture, village, and way of life are very similar as they too are pastoralists whose lives center around the raising of cattle.
It’s Easy To Enjoy This Cultural Visit
When you book your tour to the Masai Mara, Amboseli, or Samburu Park, just let us know if you would enjoy a side adventure to visit a local village. The cost is just $20 per person and payable to the village chief.
While on safari you can also let your guide know you’d like to make a detour to visit a local village and he’ll be happy to make all the arrangements.
And of course, if you have any other requests for your African safari please let us know. We’re always here to make your Kenya vacation unforgettable.
MASAI VILLAGE CULTURAL VISIT PRICES
US$ 20 Per Person
(Arrange with your safari driver/ guide. Payable to Masai village chief)