Day 5: UNDERSTANDING THE MAASAI ROLE
I awoke at 6am, but absent was the pain in my stomach and the nausea. Could it be that I was getting better already?
After joining Julie for breakfast (the first time I had eaten at Sarova Lion Hills’ dining room), Siraj came over to me and was elated to see me.
“You’ve made my day,” he said.
We left the lodge at 7:30am and then left the park as we made the rather long drive to the Maasai Mara Reserve.
At 10:10am as Siraj was topping off on gas, he said we were doing good on time so we might be able to visit the Maasai Village on the way to the park.
At noon, we did just that.
We also learned about lion hunting by the Maasai people as part of the rite of passage for males into adulthood. No wonder why lions fear red (especially the Maasai red) so much!
Of course when it comes to the wildlife of both Tanzania and Kenya, the Maasai tribe seems to be the one tribe that is most associated with East Africa. I wondered why this was so, but then I recalled the slideshow back in Mt Kenya discussed how the Maasai tribe were one of the first to have a treaty with the British when they colonized the area.
In addition, Maasai people were cattle herders and farmers. Their life and subsistence revolved around the cow. I could easily see that if it were any other tribe who happened to poach or hunt for bush meat (like most everywhere else in Africa), there wouldn’t be the healthy ecosystems of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Maasai Mara. After all, we’ve seen how poaching decimated wildlife in Zambia and Uganda.
Indeed, the Africa of Legend owes its existence and preservation (whether by conscious effort or luck of the draw by the Maasai way of life) to the Maasai tribe. So I guess their embodiment of the East Africa most tourists look for when they visit was well deserved.
At 2:15pm, after Siraj rushed us through a long drive within the Maasai Mara reserve (I thought he said we were doing well on time), we made it to the Mara Serena Lodge just in time for lunch.
With my weak stomach, I was still on somewhat of a BRAT diet (bread, rice, apples, tomatoes). But at least I was eating again.
At 4:30pm, we went on our first game drive in the Maasai Mara.
Julie and I knew that our game drives were not likely to be as successful as the Serengeti because we witnessed the wildebeest and zebra migration on the western end of the park just over a week ago. So it wasn’t likely that the migration would make it to the Maasai Mara until at least the end of July. So we had lower expectations.
But what struck us most about the scenery of the Maasai Mara was that the scene was dominated by vast plains with the odd lone acacia tree sprouting up here and there. Siraj told us that “mara” meant “spotted” as in the plains being spotted with bush and acacias. In any case, we thought the general scene here was the classic Africa we had seen in postcards and logos.
Yet still after we returned to the lodge at 6:30pm, we came back empty-handed (no cat sightings) once again. At this point, we were wondering whether it was our driver’s skill, our poor timing in coming here at this time, or just plain old bad luck. Still with the rather disappointing string of game drives on this safari, it was hard to ignore what the results were telling us.