We awoke to the rooster sounding out loudly across camp, spot on 5am. Sun rise was 6:30am so we fumbled in darkness to get ready for breakfast. We did a days game drive in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, our first taste of African wildlife. And it was spectacular!
We witnessed the Great Migration, there were absolutely hundreds of Wildebeests gathered and Zebra following them across the plains, all walking in a line – a real life ‘zebra crossing’! Our guide told us Africa has over 1.4 million Zebras. I’ve never seen so many animals in one place, ever!
I could have kicked myself for forgetting to bring a spare camera battery from my backpack! We saw the beautiful, elegant Maasai Giraffes – the tallest of the three kinds of Giraffe in Africa.
By 9am we had spotted one of the Big 5 – Buffalo! Then number two, a herd of Elephants with their young and one tiny one that we were told was no more than a week old!
One of our group had an amazing hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara and highly recommends it. We walked into the Keekorok luxury resort and down a gangway over marshy land to see the Hippos, a Croc, Wildebeest and an Elephant, from a viewing platform with an inbuilt bar. It was barely midday but the Malibu and Coke went down nicely!
We spent late afternoon at a Maasai village in the Mara. The Chief’s son John showed us around, explaining that because of the natural materials houses are made of, they need to move every nine years. Here, women build the houses from woven sticks and dung, whilst the men make a thick strong fence out of branches to protect their people and livestock by keeping wild animals out.
The Maasai men showed us how they make fire, by quickly twisting a round thin stick of hard wood into a piece of softer wood with a small hole in. Hot ashes drop onto a metal blade and when those ashes are dropped into light dry sticks and blown on, you get fire!
We were shown the inside of their houses; they are small and dark with only one small hole for a window in the kitchen. This is to let out smoke from cooking but there are no others, so as not to let mosquitoes in.
The Maasai asked us to buy bracelets, necklaces and traditional blankets in their houses, saying it is their income. They were very persistent and we felt as though we couldn’t leave the house (and weren’t invited to) until we had bought something. I felt very uncomfortable and it kind of ruined the experience for me.
John walked us to the community school and Sam the teacher showed us around. Each kid has to walk up to 7km each way to school which shocked me but it goes to show the value they place on a good education. Some board to help them pass exams and girls often board for longer if they are subject to young marriages. The school is an ongoing project to gather resources to help the community’s young. It’s clearly a constant struggle but their dedication and commitment is very inspiring.
We were led by a few of the Maasai back to the camp, about 4km away. They wanted to trade t-shirts, pens, lights, books etc in exchange for their goods – I wished I had some spare items!
Back at camp we had another delicious dinner prepared by our chef. There was a birthday in our group so I helped round everyone up at the bar and we sang happy birthday, bringing out a cake the chef had made that evening. Such a lovely surprise from the crew!
It was a race against the impending darkness as there was no light in ladies shower block. I thought my biggest issue coming here camping would be dealing with my hair but it’s actually the darkness and fumbling with the backpack.
We heard about monkeys opening the tents so we were advised to lock it from the inside overnight. I was convinced that I heard something pulling on the tent fastenings and in the morning, the outside zip was undone. Maybe I wasn’t imagining things after all!