Visiting a Masai Village

My eyes adjusted to the darkness and I began to make out a small patch of cow skins in the corner and a faint glow from beneath a boiling pot of water. Breathing was laborious in the stuffy hut and I had to fan myself with my own hand to keep from getting dizzy.

It was hard to imagine a family of eight living in this confined space, but that was the number of Masai villagers that called this particular dried-mud hut in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro home.

The rest of my time in the Masai village was unique to any other experience I’ve ever had during my travels. I was completely out of my own element as I walked around the narrow dirt paths and smiled at the children that were so happily secluded from the rest of the modern world.

The kids literally jumped at the possibility of new toys, that a member of my group had brought along from Australia.

What I found to be the strangest, yet most adorably captivating moment was when a young girl playfully popped a clear plastic bag over a younger boys head.

I reacted with shock in the thought that the boy was in danger of suffocation, but the villagers merely chuckled and waved away my concern. Of course, the small boy turned out to enjoy his new mask, and breathed effortlessly as he chased after the girl.

Upon entering the Masai village we were greeted with a traditional Masai warrior dance and song. The men sang in deep chants, jumping and dancing on the spot, while the women sang in higher pitches and took turns dancing in the centre.

I spent the first couple of minutes taking photos and one video, but became enthralled with the entire scene of the village in front of the misty Kilimanjaro and enjoyed the welcoming dance without my camera.

I had been waiting for this very moment to do any souvenir shopping during my trip. I knew that I only wanted to get a few items, and I was satisfied with the fact that my money would be going directly to the village itself.

There was a vast variety of jewellery to choose from, including the traditional beaded bracelets and necklaces. The tiny beads were first imported from India and strung together by the Masai women. The choice colours are red (the main colour of the Masai tribe, and a representation of the blood which they drink), green (like the grasses of the Mara and surrounding savannahs), blue (like the sky that brings the rain) and white (like the milk from the cow).

I picked out three wooden items and began to barter with one of the Masai villagers.

He drew two lines with a stick in the dirt and wrote his proposal price at the top. I responded with my own number, and we continued this until we agreed on a price for the three items. We shook hands and made the exchange.

A large number of Masai villages, especially near Masai Mara National Park, have become increasingly commercialized over the past couple of decades, but there are still exceptions like the Masai Village on the edge of Amboseli National Park (next to Kilima Safari Camp).

These better secluded villages provide a more authentic Masai experience for visitors, while simultaneously providing the Masai village with just the right amount of tourism to fund community programs, like their very own school house.

If you are going to visit a Masai village in Kenya, be sure to do a little pre-trip research to make sure you are visiting the right type of village.

Also, try to hold off on making your purchases at the many roadside souvenir shops, as your money will be going toward a good cause at the Masai village.

Lastly, I’d like to share with you the photographic skills of a Masai Warrior :p

Thanks to My Adventure Store & G Adventures for making this trip possible.
All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


Tour: Kenya Safari Experience
G Adventures Africa Tours

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18 Responses to “Visiting a Masai Village”

  1. Alouise
    February 11, 2013 at 12:25 am #

    I love these photos. There’s a great, vibrant aspect of humanity in them. Kenya looks like a pretty amazing country to visit.
    Alouise recently posted..Souvenirs and A Contest

    • Seattle
      February 11, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      Thanks. Kenya really is an amazing place to visit. I know that I will go back.

  2. Caroline Eubanks
    February 11, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    Stunning photos!
    Caroline Eubanks recently posted..Photo Essay: Melbourne Street Art

  3. Karla
    February 11, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Gorgeous images, looks like a wonderful place to visit. Interesting about the beads.

  4. Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans
    February 12, 2013 at 12:28 am #

    The Masai are such proud, beautiful people, and your pictures highlighted their beauty even more. I’m looking forward to visiting a Masai village when we visit Tanzania this December. Great post!
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..Rio’s Favelas

    • Seattle
      February 12, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      Thanks. You’ll love it, have a great time in Tanzania.

  5. Samuel Jeffery
    February 12, 2013 at 1:41 am #

    Incredible pics! I love how you captured everything from portraits to details.
    Samuel Jeffery recently posted..Thailand Slideshow Travel Video Series Part 13

  6. Ryan
    February 13, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    Ha, Seattle, that last photo is awesome! What beautiful photos and a gorgeous people. I really need to pick your brain about approaching and photographing people, because these are amazing. Seems like this trip was really awesome!
    Ryan recently posted..Happy Birthday Abe Lincoln! Fun Facts, Best Quotes, and Memorial Photos

    • Seattle
      February 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks, they pretty much made the photos themselves, not much skill involved when the subject is so amazing, haha. It really was an awesome trip :]

  7. Amanda
    February 15, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Some seriously stunning images here, Seattle! (Especially that last one. 😉 )

    I also appreciate that you mentioned the commercialization that is beginning to creep into these places. Definitely something to consider when planning to visit!
    Amanda recently posted..Pizza, Pizza Everywhere – An Outing With Chicago Pizza Tours

  8. Turtle
    February 16, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    Such beautiful photos! I love the colours of their clothes and the warm details of their faces.
    It must have been a pretty amazing experience. It’s a pity (but not surprising) to hear about the touristy aspects. But it’s good to know there are some more authentic experiences.
    Turtle recently posted..The last king of Burma

    • Seattle
      February 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

      Agreed, I love how colourful they are. It was definitely an amazing experience and I’d love to visit more villages to compare.

  9. Audrey | That Backpacker
    February 24, 2013 at 2:53 am #

    Lovely photos, Seattle! I love all the colours and the smiles, and the Masai warrior’s photo taking skills. 😉
    Audrey | That Backpacker recently posted..The EngRish Edition: Whale & Monkey

    • Seattle
      March 1, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Thanks! Haha, I’d love to see him shoot a wedding or something :p

  10. Jaclyn @JaclynsJaunts
    March 11, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    I especially love the last picture! But all your pictures are beautiful.

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