FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Maasai Villages, Kenya

by Becca Hensley

Jul 1, 2018
July 2018

IN MASAI MARA, KENYA’S most storied game preserve, the animals have been playing hide and seek all morning. But it isn’t long before we spy silhouettes amid the expanse, an awe-inspiring landscape of tall grass which unfurls like bolts of amber-colored cloth in every direction. A terrain of golden plains, graceful acacia trees and granite boulders beneath immense skies, the Mara plays second fiddle to its best-known residents, a diverse group of protected wildlife which includes not just the Big Five (lion, Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino) but an array of birds, reptiles and tiny mammals, too. Shared with its other official inhabitants, the ancient Maasai people, the park spreads out for some 580 square miles in Kenya, stretching eventually into neighboring Tanzania. Legendary warriors, nomads and cattle herders, the colorful Maasai named this land Mara — which in their language means “mottled.”

As I peer through binoculars from my safari vehicle, focused across a gorge, I understand what that means. At first the scenery appears almost mono-hued — solid as far as the eye can see. Suddenly, that sea of gold ripples with life, or “mottles” with movement in the distance. From what might be a door in the thick vegetation, a male lion emerges to trudge purposefully across the hill before us. As if on cue, another appears, his mane even bushier than the first. Walking perhaps 30 feet apart, they follow the skyline in measured steps. Spectators, we pursue them, our guide guessing where they might go next. He thinks they’re heading for water, so we speed toward a cliff nearby which overlooks a river bed. Some minutes later, the lions appear across the shore from us, descending to the river to drink. Even that is thrill enough. But the scene improves when four lionesses and their playful cubs join the party.

Later, at Sand River Masai Mara, a 16-suite, luxury, tented camp set on a remote section of the preserve near the border of Tanzania, we meet Mamba, a Maasai warrior who works as an askari at the camp. Askari, essentially camp security in the Mara area, often wear classic Maasai garb — a bright red blanket called a shuka and leather sandals — and don brass and beaded jewelry and carry a staff-like weapon known as a rungu. Their instincts and affinity for the wilderness, much of it passed down as Maasai lore for generations, make them ideal companions to walk us safely to our stand-alone tents after dark and to fetch us again at dawn before our game drives begin. Mamba comes in handy one early morning when a grumpy, massive Cape buffalo wanders into camp and blocks my neighbor’s exit from her tent.

Maasai men jumping

Maasai men jumping © DIBROVA | DREAMSTIME.COM

While the Maasai people we meet at Sand River don’t hesitate to share details about their culture when asked, we find out much more with an afternoon visit to an actual Maasai village, located across the preserve. We’ve seen some villages from the air already. From the bush plane’s bird’s-eye view, the villages look like mystical circles irregularly spotting the grassy plain. Up close, we discover them to be small compounds, built to keep their cattle safe. A thorn and tree fence encircles a large, empty tract in the middle, which acts as both corral and main street. Occupying the perimeter, small houses, hand-built from twig and dung, have low ceilings and dark, tiny rooms inside. Beds are made from woven branches, then cushioned by animal skins and piles of grass. In one room, a makeshift kitchen’s hole in the roof releases the smoke that gathers when they cook.

Our visit lasts about an hour. It begins with a greeting from the chief, then continues with a performance by the women of the village. With plaited hair, and smudged with ochre and adorned with abundant jewelry, their haunting beauty matches their otherworldly, lullaby-like songs. When the men step up to strut their stuff, they demonstrate their vertical jumping, a feat many visitors have heard about before they’ve come. Taking turns, each “warrior” propels himself into the air. We are told they can continue jumping for hours in a trance-like state. Later, they show us how they make fire, rubbing two sticks together Boy Scout-style — but actually succeeding with a roaring flame. They talk to us honestly about the old days, when hunting lions and other animals was part of their way of life. They explain their polygamy and relate that a man’s worth comes from how many cattle he owns. When the tour ends, they lead us to tables brimming with beaded jewelry, carved figurines and woven shukas for sale.

As we leave, now wearing as many bracelets as the Maasai themselves, we marvel at their commitment to their centuries-old way of life. I’ve read the Maasai descended from the Nile Valley. They’re mentioned in the Bible as gatekeepers and fierce warriors. Today, though some keep cellphones tucked in their shukas, their timelessness gives a glimpse deep into Africa’s history.

INFO TO GO

Most visits to the Maasai are organized by safari companies as part of a more extensive itinerary. Try Sky- Safari by Elewana Collection.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
May 26, 2022

New Caravaggio Experience at Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese

Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese invites art lovers to step back into the Renaissance with its new Caravaggio Experience. The experience entails a complete immersion into the work and life of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the iconic Renaissance painter.

Discover a Journey Filled with Wonder in 2022

ISN’T IT TIME? It's time to treat yourself to the vacation you deserve, and Celebrity Cruises® offers the perfect escapes. With an award-winning fleet of ships that sail to more than 300 destinations around the world, Celebrity will take you almost anywhere you want to go in style. Enjoy stunning staterooms and suites, culinary experiences imagined by Michelin-starred chefs and intuitive service. Celebrity makes sure your vacation is effortless from the start, which is why drinks, WiFi and tips are Always IncludedSM on every sailing.

Daily
May 26, 2022

Off the Map Travel Norwegian Fjords Electric Porsche Trip

If you’re a fan of adventure travel and luxury cars, Off the Map Travel has an experience for you. The new Drive the Fjords tour allows travelers to explore the Norwegian fjords and Sunnmore Alps in style in an electric Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.

Daily
May 26, 2022

New Golden Rock Resort, Sint Eustatius

Golden Rock Resort, the upscale, contemporary lifestyle property, opened in 2021 on the remote Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius. Compared to many other Caribbean islands, Sint Eustatius (aka Statia) is not known for mass tourism.

Celebrity is celebrating Spring with 25% off Cruise Fares!

There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*

Daily
May 25, 2022

Princess Cruises Launches All-Inclusive Premier Add-On

Princess Premier, a new add-on recently launched by Princess Cruises, offers cruise-goers unlimited WiFi, premium/top-shelf beverages, photos and more. The new offer builds off the popular Princess Plus add-on to bring guests a more comprehensive bundle and savings of more than 50 percent when all the amenities are purchased separately.

eFlyer Deals
May 24, 2022

Blossom Hotel Houston Presents Stay Longer Offer with Exciting Experiences and Initiatives

Houston’s newest luxury property, Blossom Hotel Houston, recently announced the Blossom Stay Longer offer, allowing guests the chance to experience all of the hotel’s world-class amenities. Tiered by length of visit, the offer ranges from three- to seven-night stays. Guests staying three nights will receive $50 in food and beverage credit, welcome beverages for two and complimentary WiFi.

Los Cabos Sets Your Vacation Apart
from the Rest

Whether you prefer a villa on the beach or an ultra-luxe suite downtown, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Los Cabos.

eFlyer Deals
May 24, 2022

Earn a Fourth Night Free at Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf

Through June 30, Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf offers guests a fourth night free, valid for a minimum of four nights in the property’s Junior suite.