Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tanzania - The Maasai Tribe of the Serengheti

We travel through lush parks along the Great Rift Valley and pass many members of the Maasai tribe. They live in Enkang (compounds) with 10-20 small huts arranged in a circle. Surrounding the Enkang is a fence made of acacia thorns to prevent lions from attacking the cattle. A man's worth is measured by the number of cattle and children he owns.

The Inkajijik (houses) are loaf-shaped and made of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and cow's urine. Women build the houses, bring water, collect firewood, milk cattle and cook for the family. Warriors take care of security while young boys herd livestock.

At fifteen, boys have a coming of age ritual where they are circumcised and, as Morani (young warriors), they must kill a lion with a spear. While lion hunting is now illegal, our guide Nigel says it still happens.

Traditionally, the Maasai people wore animals skins draped around their bodies. Today they wrap large bright red "shukas" (sheets) around their body, to scare away animals and so the can better see each other from a distance. They wear large quantities of beaded necklaces and decorations around their neck and arms and body piercings are plentiful.

The women shave their heads to show off their beautifully beaded large hand-made collars and remove the two middle teeth from their lower jaw. Originally this was to facilitate the delivery of oral medicine when the person had lockjaw due to tetanus. Today is its just a custom the Maasai are holding to. I opt NOT to shave my head or have any dental work but I do manage to learn how to make the beaded collar flop up and down while I dance!

Our Tanzanian Safari is by far the best trip we have ever taken. The planning was flawless and every item of the trip from lodging to meals to indigenous experiences was perfectly executed. While financially not for the faint-hearted, it was worth every penny. Many thanks to Pat Garcia of Northridge Travel who made all the arrangements.  She can be reached at or 818-886-2000 or 800-842-8880.

The safari was so remarkable thanks to our excellent guide Nigel Perks. With more than 25 years’ experience guiding all over Africa, Nigel’s wealth of knowledge, pleasant personality and fearless nature enhanced the trip every step of the way. He can be reached at or   t:+64 3 545 6028. PO Box 1616, Nelson, 7040, New Zealand -