Walking with the Maasai among the incredible wildlife of the Loita Hills was an unforgettable experience. The remote village of Olorte is far off the beaten track but it was worth every bump in the road to get there.
Olkoroi Wilderness Camp, named for the black-and-white colobus monkey, was set up to support the local community and conserve the beautiful forested surroundings for generations to come.
The eco-camp is in a secluded setting with safari tents scattered throughout the forest, hearty home-cooked meals made over an open fire and outdoor bucket showers to wash off the dust of the day. We were looked after by a group of Maasai elders led by Kashu, a South Africa-trained professional guide.
All of the profits from the camp go directly back into the community through healthcare, education and conservation. There is a mobile clinic, a primary school and a women’s beading project, along with an effort to build better shambas, or vegetable gardens, to prevent malnutrition.
We sat in a beadmaking circle with the local women, hiked to a hippo pool and drank fire-brewed chai in traditional mud huts. Kate went on a horseback-riding safari in the wildlife-rich forest, while Marcus underwent some Maasai warrior training. We cooled off afterwards by plunging into the palm-fringed river at the bottom of the Olkeju Arus gorge.
The most exciting part of our stay was walking with the Maasai deep into the Forest of the Lost Child. We had to keep our wits about us, walking silently in single file while watching out for wild animals. Later, we slept under the stars in our sleeping bags with the sounds of the African bush around us.
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We are now heading up the Oloololo Escarpment to attend a traditional Maasai wedding. Time to get our shukas on!
For more information about Walking with Maasai go to: www.walkingwithmaasai.org
Marcus and Kate Westberg are a writer/photographer team travelling across eastern and southern Africa. For more stories and photographs from Marcus and Kate, please visit www.lifethroughalens.org.
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