Here at Mara Bushtops in Kenya, we like to think we’re used to the surprises thrown at us by the bush. But sometimes something so amazing happens, it leaves even us open-mouthed!
The recent discovery of an historic Masai cave in our conservancy was one of those occasions.
Over the years we’d heard rumours of the cave’s existence but it took us a decade to discover that this centre of worship and gathering lay only a 15 minute drive (or 10 minute hike) away.
The name of the cave is Kakiya – given that this means ‘the place of eating and drinking’, it gives us a pretty solid idea of the cave’s role in Masai life!
The elders have told us that the cave has long been used for traditional rituals such as sacrificing bulls, ancestor worship and fortnight-long feasts. These extended stays are made possible by ample fresh water, which is available from adjacent springs.
Young boys would spend time in the cave before going back to the villages for circumcision ceremonies. Here, earlobe piercings were performed in these hallowed surroundings. The cave was also where medicines were concocted using locally gathered herbs such as orange leaf crotons.
The site was discovered in the 1950s when the Mau Mau where hiding from the British during their fight for independence. We know some of the paintings are from this date but many may be much older, so it’s hard to pinpoint when it was first used.
We do, however, know it has been in continuous use since the 1950s. And even though traditional ancestor worship has largely given way to Christianity, the regular flow of Masai visitors to the site makes it a vibrant part of tribal life.
Taking a guided walking safari through the scenic valleys of the Mara Bushtops conservancy brings you to this hidden world. Here, your Masai spotter will explain the cave’s history, role and continued relevance. They will also explain the cave’s fascinating cave art – wild animals and warriors depicted in red ochre, usually created to celebrate a kill.
The discovery of the Kakiya Cave means our excursions have just become even more exciting. Don’t miss your special visit to this utterly unique glimpse of traditional Masai life.