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.
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.
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 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!
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!
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.