The Maasai are a pastoral people who live in Kenya and Tanzania, in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. They are cattle people who believe that all cattle on the earth belong to them and they still occasionally go on earth raids to retrieve herds from other tribes, which they believe must have been taken from them long ago. The strong bond the Maasai have with animals has necessitated a semi nomadic way of life for them as they follow the seasons in search of grass and water for their herds.
It is estimated that there are 400,000 to 600,000 Maasai. This is just an estimate because they do not like to be counted and sometimes hide themselves. Also, due to their nomadic way of life and remoteness of the area its difficult to get an actual number. You can easily indentify a Maasai by his/her slender body, narrow hips and well rounded shoulders, muscles and limbs.
The word Maasai means ìspeaker of the language Maa. There are different distinctive groups of Maa-speaking people: those who properly lead a semi-nomadic, pastoral life and the Samburu, who are more settle and practice small scale agriculture.
Maasai steppe is divided into approximately eleven to twelve separate geographical sections: Iloitai, llkisongo, llpurko, llmatapato, lloodokilani, lldamat, llsiria, lkeekonyokie, llkaputiei, llsiria, llwuasinkishu, lldalalekutuk, and llaitayok. The largest portion of the Maasai steppe is the llkisongo of Tanzania while the second largest portion is the llpurko of Kenya. The Maasai living within a particular portion may belong to any of one of the five clans subsequently described. Each of the Maasai steppes has its own name, dialect, territory, ceremonies, ways of building huts and kraal, and leadership authorities.
The style and color of dress and beadwork also differ from place to place. In Tanzania, llkisongo prefer dark red and dark blue colors in bead decoration while Kenya maasai ìllpurkoî prefer orange and light blue. One of the differences in dressing is Tanzanian Maasai wear below the knee, while most of Kenyan Maasai prefer very short togas o shuka. Differences also exist in Tanzanian Maasai because they have had less contact with urban life and thus are more traditional.
It is believed that the Maasai originated in North Africa and migrated along the Nile River down to East Africa. The race is considered a hybrid between the Nilotics, a people coming from the Nile region and the Hamitics, a people originated in North Africa. Linguistically, the Maasai are closest to the Bari of Sudan. They share common traits with other groups of Nilotics origins such as customs like the shaving of womenís heads, the removal of two middle teeth from the lower jaw, the one-legged stock stance, and the use of spittle in blessing. The Hamitic practices among the Maasai range from circumcision during initiation rites and the age-grade system among young warriors to a dislike of eating fish and other sea food. The Hamitic Nuer of Sudan also share the Maasai belief that they are sole custodians of the earth cattle.
During the fifteenth century the Maasai arrived in East Africa, in the northern region of Kenya near Lake Turkana. The story of their arrival and the extreme difficulties they uncountered is one of the oldest memories handed down by oral traditional from the Maasai elder.
After a prolonged period of drought, which led to famine and deep discouragement, the elder noticed that birds were bringing green grass to build their nests. The elder met and decided that the birds must be fetching their green grass from areas beyond the escarpment where rain had fallen, and they would send out warriers to discover where the grass had come from.
The worriers went out and after much effort of crawling on their hands and knees, they did ascend the escarpment. They reached the top and found a land of green fertility filled with rivers and lush pastures. On this great exploration they gathered a few fruits and some green grasses then returned to show the evidence of what they had found.
The first group continued on their way southward, conquering tribes in their path. They were far more organized than the other tribes they uncountered and therefore were much feared. They defeated the warlike Galla tribes, the Ndorobo hunter and lltatua, whose well they took over. The Bantu tribes, such as the numerous Kikuyu and Chaga, were defeated with little resistance and were pushed to the slope of Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro.
In the late nineteenth century, the Maasai ranged over the wide, grassy plain extending many miles north to south from Marsabir in present day Northern Kenya to Kiteto, at the south end of the Maasai steppe in present day Tanzania. Until less than a century ago, the warlike reputation of the Maasai was so respected and feared by the Bantu living in East Africa, the Arabs involved in introducing slave trade in the interior, and by European explorers, that Maasailand remained relatively untouched.
Itís believed in the earlier days of the Maasai, Natero Kop married two wives. To one he gave red cows, and she built her house on the right-hand side of her husbandís gate to the kraal, the other was given black cows and occupied the left-hand side. Each of the wives was named according to the color of her cows. The first wife, nado Mongíi (The red cow), gave birth to three children: Lelian, who founded the llmolelian clan; lokesen, who founded the llmakesen clan, and losero, the founder of the lltaarrosero clan. These three clans form the right-hand pillar of the Maasai clans. The second wife, named Narok kiteng (the black cow), gave birth to two sons: Naiser, the original ancestor of the llaiser clan, and lukum, the founder of the lukumae clan. These two clans form the left-hand pillar of the Maasai clans. The llmolelian and llaiser clans are the most prominent and powerful among the Maasai, and so it is thought that they must have been founded by the eldest sons of each of the two pillars.
Within the five Maasai clans the members know which families may or may not intermarry. Itís recommended that the right pillar should marry the left pillar, but if marriage does occur within one pillar of clans, the prospective husband may pay a heifer if the man and women have children, their offspring is assumed the clan of the father. Also for each clan there is one principal mark or brand, and all the cattle belonging to the various families within the clan are branded in the special way. Besides branding, each family has specially way of slitting the ears of their animals. If a lost cow is seen, it can be recognized as belonging to the certain clan and also to such and such person. One has only to tell, by the brand or earmark, whether or not the owner is oneís relatives.
Also all young Maasai while they are young are toughed how to sing to the cattle, to describe their horn formations, humps and colors and their little individual peculiarities.
The Maasai harmony with nature is closely entwined with their reverence for God. The Maasai believe in one God, Engai, who dwells both on earth and in heaven. Engai is a supreme God and no one else can be called by that name. There are two aspects to God: Engai narok, the God which is black, the good and benevolent God; and Engai Nanyokie, the red God, which is an aspect of Godís holy anger. The black God is seen in the thunder and rain, which bring grasses to the cattle and prosperity to the Maasai people. The red God is expressed in the violent lightening, which can strike and kill, and in the extreme dry season, which brings famine and death. To the Maasai, God is the master of both life and death.
The two most important things that the Maasai constantly pray for are children and cattle. When two people meet, they exchange the greeting, Keyaa ingera? Inguishu. (ìHow are the children? How are the cattle?). Cattle are very special in Maasai steppe, and in fact form the basis of their entire culture, being the main form if sustenance, wealth, and power. Census estimates the cattle population of Maasai steppe at about three million, more cattle per person than found in any other tribe in Africa. They also keep goats and sheep, which they consider of economic value and use for food and in ceremonies. The larger their herds, the richer the person. A Maasai may have as many as a thousand in his herd, yet without children, he is not considered truly wealthy. The rich man orkarsis applies only to one blessed with both cattle and children.
The main food is Milk and Meat. Milk is a staple of Maasai diet-which people consume fresh or in sour. Babies are given ghee, another diary product, similar to clarified butter. Rarely is an animalís slaughtered for its meat, except in special occasion as when a women gives birth , when a person is very sick, when worrier go on retreats to gain straight, or when major ceremony takes place. Most of the food is shared in the Maasai society, and when one kill a cow, everybody who prefers to eat meat that day will join in.
The Maasai also drink blood during the dry season when they run of short of milk. The animal is not killed in obtaining the blood, but rather the tip of an arrow is used to make an incision in its jugular vein. Worriers, circumcised boys and lactating women often drink the blood of healthy animals with the belief that it will give them strength.
The maasai utilize every part of their cattle, besides drinking the animals milk and blood and eating meat, the maasai use urine for medication purposes, its dung for to cover and plaster their houses, its horn to make container, its hoofs for ornaments such as rings and its hides for clothing, shoes, use as mattress substitute, and ropes.
No ceremony can be performed without including a bull or ox in one way or another. It is through their cattle that the Maasai have attained self-sufficiency. It is no wonder, then that they consider little in the world to be of equal value.
Unlike female Maasai male life is well-ordered progression through a series of life-stage, which are determined by age, initiated through ceremonies, and marked by specific duties and privileges. All male pass through three main stages: Boyhood, warrior hood, and elder hood. Warriors are subdivided into junior and senior warrior and together form one generation. Approximately every 7 years, a new generation of warriors come of age. Each generation has its own name. When warriors graduate into elder hood they are replaced by another generation of warriors. Elder progress through junior and then senior elder hood, and eventually become ancient elders, who, because of their old age, retire from the active direction of Maasai affairs.
There are four ceremonies, performed by all maasai males, are.
Alama lengipaata, the ceremony boys undertake just before circumcision.
Emorata, the circumsition ceremony, which initiates them warrior hood.
Eunoto, the graduation of into elder hoods
Olngesherr, the confirmation of total elder hood.
The four ceremonies have certain features in common: ritual head shaving, continual blessings, the slaughter of an animal, ceremonial painting of the face or body, singing, dancing, and feasting. The ceremonies are performed section by section. For unknown reasons, Olgesherr must be perfomed by the llkisongo and then by the other section. For Alamal lengipaata must be opened up by the llkeekonyokie section in order for the other sections to follow.
D2R conduct varies safari walking trip, this trip will improve your endurance while still enjoy the feeling of nature, also to meet local people.
Day 1: D2R adventure begins by driving to Lengijave village 26 km North of Arusha where we meet our Maasai guides and their donkeys.
Ø Trek into the rift valley across open plains and acacia woodland
Ø Breath taking picnic lunch under the acacia trees
Ø Walk while observing wild animals such as ostrich ,Thomson's gazelle, Grant's gazelle, plains zebra, and wildebeest and Giraffe
Ø Dinner and overnight stay will be adventure camping at a panoramic view on the open plains.
Day 2: After a nice breakfast, the journey begins to follow the trail as it winds through thicker bush land crossing some dry riverbeds towards the Kiserian rocks.
Ø Enjoy the top of a hilly range and as we walk closer we become aware of the gigantic size of rocks outcrops.
Ø Wildlife viewing, the dry land antelope Gerenuks, Kudus, and many other antelope species.
Ø If you are lucky enough we may be able to spot a herd of elephants
Ø Arrive Campsite at Kiserian in Maasai language means "be at peace'' The campsite is set among the rocky Kopjes.
Ø Unforgettable day of your life, calm nights only broken by the roar of a distant lion.
Ø Large number of birds species, Go away birds, and African Hoopoe
Ø Will be able to learn Maasai and Swahili with our guide
Ø Dinner and Overnight stay adventure camping.
Day 3: Earlier breakfast, walk towards the northeast, and towards a large dry channel of river.
Ø Will be able to see a beautiful gorge and large number of acacia woodland
Ø Wildlife viewing on the way such as Kudu, impala, Grants gazelle and Gerenuks
Ø Dinner and overnight stay at slopes of a spectacular rock formation, and beautiful view of Oldonyo Lengai.
Day 4: During the early morning the donkeys will be packed.
Ø The adventure leads across a hilly area with rocky formations
Ø Late in the afternoon we will arrive to our destination named by Muriatata
Ø Incredible views of enormous acacia woodland vegetations and the snow covered summit of Kilimanjaro to the East.
Ø Dinner and overnight Muriatata Camp, the peculiar camp far away from human settlements
Ø in the heart of the East African savanna
Ø Enjoy this last day adventure camping under the African stars
Day 5: Good breakfast is followed by a short walk within the surrounding Muriatata hills. Board our vehicle and heads across North Maasailand arriving in Arusha in the late afternoon to connect with onward planning (Serengeti, Tarangire, Manyara)
End of your trip
Priced per request
Olduvai Gorge Archaeological Site
Olduvai Gorge is an archaeological site located in the eastern Serengeti Plains, which is in Northern Tanzania within the Ngorongoro Conservation area authority. The gorge is a very steep sided ravine roughly 30 miles (48km) long and 295 ft (90Meters) deep. According to paleoanthropologists, the deposits shows rich fossil fauna covering a time span from about 2,100,000 to 15,000 years ago. An archaeologist, Dr Louis Leakey, uncovered some of the earliest remains of fossil hominids at Olduvai in the early twentieth century. The name Olduvai originated from a European misspelling of Oldupai, the correct Maasai word for this region of great historical importance and named after the wild sisal plants growing in abundance in the gorge.
Why visit Olduvai Gorge
Constant search for an answer to where we came from and what we are, culturally and biologically. Appropriate education for a future in a shrinking, multicultural world. Better understanding of our evolutionary history ensures our future success and well-being.