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Maasai warrior Leska with the author's daughter and a giraffe
Maasai warrior Leska with the author’s daughter while on a walking safari © Beate Apfelbeck
TRAVEL POST written by Beate Apfelbeck

Sometimes great experiences come along unexpectedly, and in this case an experience that we won’t soon forget! It was after a few exciting days in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania when we decided to spend some quiet days camping in the mountain village of Monduli Juu – about an hour’s drive from Arusha. The actual campsite, which lies just outside the village, is run by the Maasai themselves and provides stunning views of Mount Meru, the Rift Valley and – on clear mornings – of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Maasai have greatly developed the campsite in the last few years, which now offers toilets and access to water – which is hard to come by in the highlands of Monduli Juu.

Campsite at a Maasai village in Tanzania
The campsite at Monduli Juu © Beate Apfelbeck

The campsite is set in a small woodland area and is very peaceful. A variety of birds including speckle-fronted weavers, rufous sparrows, African grey flycatchers and olive thrushes are a common sight around the campsite.

Speckled-fronted weaver
Speckled-fronted weaver © Beate Apfelbeck
Maasai around a campfire in Tanzania
In the evenings the Maasai would light up a cosy campfire © Beate Apfelbeck

On the Saturday we visited the local market where everything from goats, jewellery and clothes, to household goods, fresh produce and shoes made from motorbike tyres were for sale.

The sheep and goat market at Monduli Juu in Tanzania
The sheep and goat market © Beate Apfelbeck
Beaded bangles and necklaces for sale at Monduli Juu market in Tanzania
The Saturday market had a wide range of items for sale, from fresh produce to jewellery © Beate Apfelbeck
Mutton being cooked over open fire in Monduli Juu village in Tanzania
Mutton (goat meat) is grilled above open fires in the typical Maasai way © Beate Apfelbeck

The following day we went on a short walking safari with Leska, a Maasai warrior, through the woodlands that cover the gentle slopes below the campsite. While large predators are rare in the area, it still is home to a variety of antelopes, gazelles and giraffes which can be encountered while on foot!

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Giraffe at Monduli Juu in Tanzania
Going on a walk around Monduli Juu can result in some great wildlife sightings, such as this giraffe © Beate Apfelbeck

We followed the tracks and signs of giraffe and eland and finally met two graceful giraffes who did not mind at all to pose for photos with us. Our young daughter especially enjoyed this close experience with wildlife!

Young girl watching a giraffe in Tanzania
The author’s daughter watching a giraffe while out on a walk with a Maasai warrior © Beate Apfelbeck

We finally reached the goal of our walk, a lookout point where the gentle slopes suddenly fell away and the vast Rift Valley spread out in front of us in dusty tones of grey, brown and yellow. Within this vast, dry landscape, the Maasai bomas (enclosures) were barely distinguishable and sparsely strewn. Within each boma there are a number of huts where each hut represents the house of one wife. From this viewpoint Leska was able to point out the boma where he was born.

We immensely enjoyed our stay at the Monduli Juu campsite. It was the ideal place for us to learn more about the Maasai culture and experience a more intimate, off-the-beaten-track safari.

Maasai boma in Rift Valley in Tanzania
The view of the Rift Valley from the lookout point with two Maasai bomas © Beate Apfelbeck

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Beate Apfelbeck

I first travelled to Tanzania in 2010 and was overwhelmed by the diversity of life, both nature and people, I encountered there. It is my second home now and I regularly travel to East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya) for several months a year. When I am not studying birds, I enjoy village life in south-west Tanzania, or go and explore the mountains and national parks in the region. As a biologist I study how environmental variation influences the behaviour and physiology of birds. I am also a passionate photographer and love to share my experiences of the African way of life and my adventures in the field.