Meet the Maasai: A Memorable Encounter

Meet the Maasai: A Memorable Encounter
October 2019

After returning from an African adventure with A&K, guest Bianca MacDonald shared with us her unforgettable highlights, including an extraordinary encounter with the Maasai people. Her 30-day African safari took her to Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania. Read her story and admire her photos below.

My journey started in Zambia, a magical place with the nicest people I have ever met. In Pat Clementson’s (A&K’s Africa & Arabia Product Manager) own words, “Zambia is one of Africa’s best kept secrets” and it is so true - I think everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. When I arrived at Mfuwe airport I was met by Malcolm who drove me to Kaingo Camp. Whilst at the airport I met Derek Shenton of Shenton Safaris, owner and builders of Kaingo Camp, and was thrilled to have a nice chat with him. Kaingo Camp was simply heaven on earth. The manager, Agata, was so warm and homely – I felt as though I’d known her all my life.

Meeting Derek Shenton of Shenton Safaris and my lovely driver Malcom

The camp made me feel as though I was part of the Shenton “family” and if I’d known how much I’d love the place I’d have stayed another week; I’ll be sure to return. Kaingo gives the adventurer an opportunity to go on many walking safaris, which not all camps offer – and to me that made all the difference.  Exploring on foot with my experienced guide Sandy was a true African education and I loved it. Learning about the vegetation, animal tracks, and experiencing some incredible close encounters with the wildlife was truly unforgettable.  

Kaingo - on a walking safari - on the left Sandy (my wonderful guide) - on the right Agata.

Sausage Tree Camp was also fabulous. Its location in the Lower Zambezi National Park is unique and offers guests so many different ways of viewing the wildlife. The highlight of my stay there was a 3.5-hour canoe ride along the Zambezi River. It is filled with hippos and crocodiles, and we had to stop on many occasions to give elephants the right of way when crossing from one side of the riverbank to the other. It was breathtaking to say the least – what an experience.  

Breakfast at Sausage Tree Camp

The highlight of my entire African adventure occurred during my time in Kenya. I was privileged to visit the Maasai people, a magical, spiritual, and a lifelong dream come true. The photos below were taken on 24th June whilst I was in the Masai Mara Game Reserve on my final day with the A&K group.  As per the itinerary we were all to visit a local Maasai village, a short distance from where we were staying at Sanctuary Retreats’ Sanctuary Olonana.  In the afternoon we were given the option of going on a final game drive or the planned visit to the village. The twelve other guests opted for the game drive – and I did not hesitate in taking the village visit. 

I had dreamt and hoped of encountering the Maasai for as long as I can remember, and I was NOT going to miss out on this opportunity. Escorted by a Maasai warrior to the village, a short walk from our camp, I was immediately introduced to a wonderful man who turned out to be the elder of the village. Through the interpreter he asked my name – Bianca did not make much sense to him – so I said he should call me “B” like my family and friends do. He did not understand “B” either – so I found a picture of a bee on my iPhone and showed it to him. He gave me this beautiful beaming smile, took me by the hand and guided me down this hill to view his pride and joy – his beehives.  We conversed, via the interpreter, for ages and both thoroughly enjoyed the encounter. I felt we were friends for life (and the whole time I was with him he never let go of my hand – how blessed was I).

With the Maasai elder when viewing his beautiful beehive

I was finally led back uphill to the village and was introduced to the warriors – and then the women. They were so beautiful, warm and welcoming, and as their command of English was quite good, we chatted for some time. As I was the only foreigner in the village there was absolutely no rush and I was able to interact and communicate with them all – time which I will always treasure.

Meeting the Maasai warriors

Getting to know the incredible Maasai women

In the evening the elder’s son gave our tour group a talk on the Maasai way of life which was so interesting and informative. He had been to university and was trying to re-educate his people in new and innovative ways to grow vegetables, care for their animals, and of course manage their own personal health. I call him a “new generation Maasai” – and, as he said, “Change has to eventually come to my people.”

Time with the elder's son after his fabulously informative talk

My time at the village was not just an opportunity to take some truly memorable photographs, but an afternoon spent with incredible people from another world - and I will never, ever forget them.  What a privilege it has been.