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Found 19 results

  1. Well, before I forget how to upload pictures from Flickr again, I thought I would post the latest trip. A little bit different trip this time. One where I accompanied 5 veterinary students on a short faculty-led study abroad trip. This is the second such trip, the first being in 2011. Prior to the trip, students spend time in the classroom reviewing various topics ranging from the culture of Tanzania, wildlife conservation, and animal and zoonotic diseases of the region. This was followed by a two week tour in Tanzania over their Christmas break. We left the US on December 31st, flying Delta to Amsterdam and on to Kilimanjaro. No surprises along the way and everyone’s luggage arrived. Yay!! We were picked up at the airport by a driver from Mvuli Hotel and taken to Mvuli Hotel in Arusha. This is a lovely, small hotel that was well within the budget of a student tour and has some of the best service I have ever experienced. Nothing was too difficult and the transport to the hotel was only $40, which is less than the usual fare charged for transport from the airport to Arusha. The rooms are very clean and the air conditioning works great. WiFi in certain parts of the hotel. I may have even had it in my room, but I can’t remember for sure. We are up early the next morning as we will be flying to Seronera (central Serengeti) with Coastal Aviation shortly after 7 am. We have breakfast and are taken to the Arusha airport for a fee of $20. We get checked in at the airport. Fortunately I had remembered to print off all of the tickets. Not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t. Luggage was weighed. The students were all extremely good about limiting what they had brought, but we did have some extra things that we would need later that Mvuli stored for us as we would be returning to the hotel. Although all of the students have traveled internationally, some to under developed countries, none of them had ever been to Africa or flown on a small plane. And they loved it!! We were the only people on the plane out of Arusha, then picked up a couple at Manyara. Before taking off from Manyara, the pilot asks the students if someone would like to be the co-pilot. One immediately jumped at the chance. Next stop Kuro airstrip (for those going to or coming from Tarangire). Then onto Seronera. The excitement grows as the students see many giraffe lined up along the airstip in Seronera. We land and the pilot announces, “your co-pilot welcomes you to Seronera”. The student co-pilot said “that was the best thing ever and that she could go home right now and her trip would have been a success”. We are met at the airstrip by George Mbwambo, the guide I have used for the previous trips, including the one with students. We load into a very nice land cruiser that George has leased for us. Normally we go in George’s land cruiser, but since there are six of us, we needed the 7-seater version. George has it well-stocked with water, snacks, and coffee for me, as he knows it is never too hot or too late in the day for my coffee break. We spend a full day game driving, eating box lunches that George has brought from Osupuko Serengeti camp where we will be spending the next 2 nights. Seronera does not to disappoint, but how could it when you are in a car full of people who have never been on an African safari. Nothing compares to the first time. Young giraffe practicing their sparring skills That evening we check into Osupuko Serengeti, which is in the Rongai Hills area. The camp is a basic mobile camp but very will set up, with really nice tents and a beautiful location. The service and food are exceptional. I have stayed at several mobile camps in the Serengeti and I think this might be one of my favorites, and it is very reasonably priced. The students really hit it off with the camp staff and a good time was had by all. Plus that added experience of the bucket shower for the uninitiated. On the second night here the students introduced George to roasting marsh mellows. This was something mentioned on a previous trip with students and George had no idea what a marsh mellow was, so we told him we would bring some. So George and the camp staff tried them, but were not impressed. Too sweet for their liking. But it was fun none the less. Tents at Osupuko Serengeti Camp Dining and Lounge Tent Day 3 arrives and we are on our way to Ndutu, taking it slow and doing a game drive on the way. George getting the car ready Leopard sightings this trip were, sadly, all quite distant A stop at the hippo pool proved especially entertaining this time. They were very active, with lots of young ones, and we were the only people there. That's it for now. Much more to come in the next few days.
  2. Keep abreast of news from the greater Mara ecosystem here: https://www.flipsnack.com/flip-preview/ftji6phhw/
  3. Someone said on KenyaBirdsNet today that the Maasai community south of Nairobi National Park is in the process of creating a community conservancy. South of the park and west of Kitengela. The idea is for it to serve as a buffer against the expansion of Kitengela town. Have any Safaritalkers heard about this? Any more info? It seems like a positive development if true.
  4. For anyone interested in the history surrounding the Maasai settlement of Laikipia and the Maasailands near the Tanzanian border, this article will prove fascinating. Now I have always understood, both from anecdotal tales and from the various history books that I've read, that the subsequent move of the Laikipia inhabitants to the Southern area was undertaken under duress and was a great disaster to the Maasai. The author of the article, David Forrester, who was brought up on the Laikipia plateau at Rumuruti questions some of the assumptions made at the time and adopted by Lotte Hughes in her book Moving the Maasai - A Colonial Misadventure. Namely 4 areas of error that he expands on. 1 The general assumption that the Laikipia Plateau was a high rainfall, fertile land. He claims that this originated from explorers who toured the southern part of the area, and not from any observation of the northern parts in the dry seasons. 2 The next assumption regarded the disease free status of the area. 3 The numbers of stock held by the Maasai and required to move are considered exaggerated. 4 Forrester finds problems with the lack of boundary descriptions in the Hughes book. This causes problems in assessing the extent of the move and the populations of people and domestic stock that were involved. In support of Forrester's points, Veronica Bellers writes Fortunately, Lotte Hughes was able to respond to both accounts and puts forward her views. Fascinating, at least I found it to be and there is another link within the article to a follow up article by Lotte Hughes. I must buy her book as it is definitely a defining part of Kenyan history. http://britishempire.co.uk/article/movingthemaasai.htm#.Veli8ACRtop.facebook
  5. Matt (administrator of Safaritalk) has suggested I post this here. I'm the author of the Lonely Planet guides to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Sudan and Congo. A couple of months ago myself and a Maasai friend walked for five weeks across a part of Kenya's Maasailands and through some of the wildlife conservancies fringing the Masai Mara reserve. Along the way we stayed in Maasai manyattas and met leaders of the Maasai communities and biologists and conservationists working in the region. The result of this walk will be two books, a series of speaking tours and a photo exhibition. For more please see www.walkingwiththemaasai.com In addition to these things in February 2016 I will be returning to Kenya to run a small group walking tour covering a part of the route we just walked. Along the way we will walk through open grasslands surrounded by zebra and wildebeest, gather around a fire at night to listen to Maasai elders recalling days of hunting lions with spears, camp in remote forests where colobus monkeys crash through the trees and bushbuck flit through the shadows and help herd the cattle back to the Maasai boma at sunset. This is no package tour. This is a genuine adventure and such a tour is not available anywhere else. For more including dates, prices, schedules etc see Thank you Stuart
  6. Hi everyone I'm one of the authors of the various Lonely Planet guides to Kenya, Tanzania, East Africa, Ethiopia and other areas (new, and expanded editions of all the East Africa books out this week).However, that's not what this post is about. Instead, I wanted to tell you all a little bit about a major project I'm currently engaged in and that might be of interest to users of these forums. Over the course of May-June 2015 (so yeah I am already a short way into it) I will walk, with a Maasai companion, across part of the Maasai lands of Kenya. The walk started from the eastern edge of Kenya’s remote Loita Hills and is running to the western edge of the Mara North conservancy, part of the greater Masai Mara ecosystem. Along the way I am staying in, and visiting, as many Maasai villages as possible as well as meeting and talking to a whole host of people involved in conservation and tourism in that area. The result of the walk will be a book about about the walk, contemporary Maasai life and wildlife conservation in East Africa today. A second book will be a coffee table photo book filled with portraits and reportage photos from the walk and my other East African trips. There will also be a range of magazine features and a large online and social media presence. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I, and I hope my Maasai companion, will be doing a speaking tour through the UK, France and Kenya talking in schools and public venues about East African conservation. I am providing very frequent blog updates on the dedicated project website - www.walkingwiththemaasai.com and there's a dedicated Facebook page which some of you might be interested in following: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Walking-with-the-Maasai/421479961339808?ref=hl I hope a few of you find it interesting and enjoyable enough to want to follow the project. Thank you Stuart Butler
  7. Reports www.thecitizen.co.tz To read the full article click here. Ulitmately what resources are below ground will trump those above... visit before the fracking starts and derricks go in.
  8. Experience a luxury flying safari with 5 nights at Encounter Mara from $1895 USD. We're pleased to offer our newest special - a luxury flying safari with five inspiring nights of wildlife at the award-winning Encounter Mara where you will have twice-daily game drives, bush walks with Maasai guides, and days capped off with a traditional sundowner. OR 12 Days Luxury Kenya & Zanzibar from $2595 See the amazing beauty and wildlife of East Africa at a special price.Experience a luxury flying safari with five nights at Encounter Mara, Kenya’s leading tented camp*. Enjoy twice daily game drives, bush walks with Masai guides, and days capped off with a traditional sundowner. Combine this with the ‘spice island’ of Zanzibar where you’ll explore historic Stone Town and relax on the white sand beaches at the luxurious five star Dream of Zanzibar resort. .......................................................... $3295 USD JULY TO DECEMBER 2015 $2595 USD JANUARY TO JUNE 2015 Email us: info@encountermara.com *As voted at 2012, 2013 & 2014 World Travel Awards Rate includes all accommodation, meals, drinks, game drives, flight to the Mara. Rate excludes tips, visas, insurance, optional services, international airfare and airfare from Nairobi - Zanzibar. Not available April 1 - 30, 2015.
  9. Following on from our recent discussion, Why aren't there more female guides? in which I concluded by putting forward the suggestion of sponsoring at least one female candidate to attend the Koiyaki Guiding School, (www.koiyaki.com), I did indeed contact Simon Nkoitoi, the school's Administrator/Principal and attach his reply below. Already there has been enough interest in the proposal to sponsor 1 candidate for the next course and therefore I am looking to see if between the membership we can sponsor a second candidate, (cost 2,300 USD as per Simon's letter below). I will be responding to Simon in due course with our updates and will share here the news of the candidate selection procedure. As I mentioned in the original discussion, what a fantastic opportunity we have here to help more than one girl achieve her dream of becoming an accredited guide in Kenya and help her, QUOTE "challenge their counterpart males." You can see in Simon's letter where previous students now are working: this is something we can help our students with I'm sure, following their career and helping with job placement once qualified. It gives us the opportunity in future to be guided by the girls who Safaritalk has put through the school and of course, there exists the possibility of visiting the school during term time to meet the students and staff. Please do comment below if you are interested and can assist with some financial contributions to help the Safaritalk Scholarship program, (there is no need to publicly mention amounts, as we can discuss this through PMs and all such comms will be confidential). I will be speaking further with Simon about the funding procedure and easiest way to donate, but for the moment, I'll leave you with his letter. Thanks, Matt.
  10. If you are interested in some unique cultural interaction with the Maasai people in their environment, Boutique SafarisLtd. can help. We are a Maasai owned and locally operated safari company in Tanzania. In addition to outstanding safaris, Kilimanjaro climbs and Zanzibar holidays, we offer unique opportunities to engage with our community, the Maasai. We have tours into Maasailand in the Ngorongoro Highlands visiting Lake Natron, Oldu lengai (the Mountain of God) and our village, Engaruka. Our village is a completely untouched Maasai community where we grew up. We know all the locals and they are welcoming and engaging with our guests. We would love to work with you to create an unforgettable adventure in our homeland. Come and see the REAL AFRICA, the Maasai way Best, Abbey Olemisiko, founder of Boutique Safaris www.boutique-safari.com
  11. Reposting this from my website, but I just got back from my first Safari and it really was much better than I anticipated. Below is more of a photo essay than a trip report. I had used Maasai Magic as my guide company and I was so much more than pleased with them and Guide, Gabriel Kavishe. He was so dedicated on our game drives to get the best sightings, but also the best photographic opportunities for me as well. I am reposting these from my website. Faces of Maasai When I travel I always like to take photos of people, especially what I would call environmental photos. Taking photos in familiar surroundings puts people at ease and in the digital world, you can share your photos with your subject, especially children to get them to relax and have more fun. One of my goals on the trip was to be able to go to a Maasai village and learn about their culture and spend time asking questions and get a brief understanding of who they are and spend some time interacting in a village where people live on a day to day basis such as in the photo above. Gabriel knew of such a location and I was excited for the day to arrive. Throughout the trip as we got further away from the main city of Arusha, we would see many Maasai tending to their cows and goats. Most of those responsible for keeping these animals on the move and being fed, comes down to boys often under 6-8 years old being helped by an older brother as in the photo above. It was not unusual to see child after child on the side of the road or off in the distance as we whizzed by on the highway. When we first arrived at the village, we were met by many of the married women in the village and they performed a greeting song for us. The men then came out and performed and then started their traditional jumping song and each time the men take their turn, they try to jump higher and higher. We were then able to go inside a home and learned they take about 4 months to build and are built by the woman. There is not much more than a simple place to have a fire with an exhaust out the side of the hut and an area to sleep. Men and boys sleep together as do the girls and women. And you can see by the photo above, the beds are very simple as is most everything in their lives. After taking a tour of the home and the homeowner answering many questions, they then shoed us how they make a traditional fire by using a knife and a couple of pieces of wood, something they do on a daily basis in the village I was told. you’ll also notice in the photo above, the guy on left wearing a watch. He told me he attended secondary school in Arusha and many villagers had an interest in my watch, apparently its one of the luxury’s they do like to own. It’s interesting to me as I look at their culture because they only seem to worry about two times of day, sunrise and sunset. Once they get the embers hot, they then add it to dried cow dung and this is what really starts the main fire. Next we were able to see children in their school and they are taught English as a second language and they recited the alphabet for us and counted in English as well. The age of the children in the school were between about 3 and the oldest being 11 or 12. We wandered around the village for a short time and took a few more photo and I thought this one of Ken interacting with the little ones was pretty fun. (Note: Ken Redman is the former Director of the Honolulu Zoo and was a wealth of knowledge on the trip) Eventually it was time to be on our way, but not before they gave us the hard sell on buying some of their carvings and a few other things they were selling in the village. I picked out a handful of items and then they told me it was $250 Euro’s for everything and I just laughed and handed everything back to them and said I was thinking more like $50. We finally agreed on a price for a few items and then we were able to get a few more photos in the village and it was on to our next adventure down the road whatever that might be. It wasn’t long after we left the Maasai village, I asked Gabriel to stop again and I was able to get one of my favorite portraits on the trip. As A photographer one of the first things I learned, when I photo opportunity presents itself, you have to take action and get the photo then or you’ll probably never have the opportunity again. Throughout our time driving, every once in awhile we would see Maasai boys on the side of the road with their faces painted either white or black. I asked Gabriel why only a few boys chose to wear paint like that and he said they were boys who had gone through a circumcision ceremony also known as Emuratta. The ceremony is the most vital initiation of all rite of passages in the Maasai society. This initiation is performed shortly after puberty. Young men are eager to be circumcised and become warriors. Once the boys become warriors they resume responsibility of security for their territory. Circumcision initiation elevates an individual from childhood to adulthood. In order for the boy to be initiated he must prove himself to the community. The boy must exhibit signs of a grown man, by carrying a heavy spear, herding large herd of livestock, etc. After the operation is successfully completed, the boy would receive gifts of livestock from his relatives and friends. He would also gain a tremendous amount of respect for his bravery. I was really happy to be able to stop and take a few quick photos of these boys as it was really once in a lifetime shot with the perfect location. I threw on my simple “Nifty Fifty” 50mm f/1.8 lens, allowing me to get some beautiful bokeh in the background with excellent sharpness. They were really good sports about me taking their photo and its one I’ll always be happy with from my trip. Next up, we stopped at Olduvai Gorge, considered the cradle of man and one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world. It’s famous for Mary Leakey and her find of Homo habilis, meaning “man with skill.” in 1959. Here we also met a man with skill, a Massai Medicine Man who was there selling his medicine to other Maasai at Olduvai Gorge where he allowed me to take this portrait. And my last photo for this series, was the feet of a sleeping Maasai, just a few feet away from the medicine man. Leopard on our Left! Well finally had some time to sleep in, I was getting to the point of being pretty run down. On a FAM (familiarization) trip, one is go go go the whole time. There were lodges to look at and we also needed to get the best photos to help with marketing tours for Shutter Tours. This requires getting up early as the sun rises, eating a box lunch out in the bush and pushing ourselves to go until the sun sets. Thankfully this was the morning where we decided that 8:30 AM was going to be a good starting time and I had a great night rest so was ready to start the day. Our first stop was a hippo pool with loads of hippos, this is something that is great to see because you can have close to 100 hippos in the same area in the river, though you’ll smell them before you see them. They make a lot of noise and on my trip I brought an audio recorder so I could remember the sounds. Click on the sound file below to hear the sound they make. After we left the hippo pool, Gabriel was on a mission to find a Leopard before the end of the trip. We had only seen two but it was late in the evening and they were so far off that I couldn’t get a good photo. The one important thing about going to Africa, if you have a good guide it makes a world of difference. We saw many guides get impatient and move on and after they did, this is where the patience for us paid off because we would see things that others missed. The only challenge for seeing a leopard at this point in the day was it was after 10 AM and they usually hunt in the evening and are more active then. But Gabriel pushed on as we took lots of twist and turns and moved throughout a forested area. We had just dropped into a small gully and were coming up a small hill when Gabriel stops and says “Leopard on our Left” quickly I grab my camera and get a few shots off and then it disappeared into the woods. It was probably 30-40 yards away and moved out of our sight into the thick underbrush. Well I did get a couple of good photos, but not the ones I wanted, I thought to myself. Gabby pointed to a tree and thought maybe it was going in that direction. We all had a rush of excitement when it jumped up the base of the tree and started to climb. Quickly I wanted to get some photos off just in case he jumped back down but I was having some camera challenges. My first full day in Africa I was getting some great photos of Baboons, Giraffe’s, Elephants etc. At the end of the day I hurriedly put my camera down on a nightstand to use the washroom, when I heard a loud thump. My camera had fallen off the nightstand. Crestfallen I grabbed the camera to make sure everything was ok and did a test shot. thankfully the 70-300 mm lens was working. The next day however, I was trying to get my first shots of the day and at 300mm everything was blurry and my camera wouldn’t focus. After about 5 minutes I realized I must have damaged a collar inside my lens and the lens was flopping around in the barrel. If I held the end of the lens just right, I could get an image in focus, but it took some work and was very frustrating. It seemed to work better at 200mm, but I needed to reach out and get longer shots. Thankfully by the time this leopard presented itself I was getting pretty good at getting a decent shot. So I took my time and bumped up the ISO a bit to reduce any blur and shake. As it climbed the tree, I saw that my shots were working. When presented with once in a lifetime shots as a photographer, you don’t want to blow the shot or make excuses, you have to get the job done. Thankfully my hand was steady and we had a beautiful subject to photograph. Eventually I just put my camera down to enjoy the scene that was unfolding in front of me. At this point there was only three of us here and no other vehicles around so we had this scene all to ourselves. He would probably be here for the rest of the day, so it was time for us to move on from this great experience. More images below to tell the rest of the story. I just got back last night after five weeks of travel, once I catch up I'll post a more in-depth trip report and share what I learned as both a first timer and as a photographer.
  12. << Masai told to leave historic homeland by end of the year so it can become a hunting reserve for the Dubai royal family Tanzania has been accused of reneging on its promise to 40,000 Masai pastoralists by going ahead with plans to evict them and turn their ancestral land into a reserve for the royal family of Dubai to hunt big game. Activists celebrated last year when the government said it had backed down over a proposed 1,500 sq km “wildlife corridor” bordering the Serengeti national park that would serve a commercial hunting and safari company based in the United Arab Emirates. Now the deal appears to be back on and the Masai have been ordered to quit their traditional lands by the end of the year. Masai representatives will meet the prime minister, Mizengo Pinda, in Dodoma on Tuesday to express their anger. They insist the sale of the land would rob them of their heritage and directly or indirectly affect the livelihoods of 80,000 people. The area is crucial for grazing livestock on which the nomadic Masai depend. >> Disgraceful, but not a huge surprise. read the full article here
  13. Elephant! acrylic 20x30" by Alison Nicholls Here is my latest conservation-themed painting. The explanatory text is below. I hope you enjoy it! Alison Elephants provoke strong opinions. Tourists want to see them on safari and usually encounter calm, relaxed elephants in protected national parks, viewing them from the relative safety of a vehicle. However, rural-dwelling Africans are more likely to encounter elephants on foot, outside protected areas, in places and situations where elephants are more wary of, or aggressive towards, people. Children who have to pass elephant herds on their walk to school, or families whose crops are trampled and eaten by hungry elephants may feel fear and distrust rather than admiration and wonder when they see elephants. Elephant! resulted from a conversation I had with Maasai men in Tanzania, while I visited the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) for my 2nd Conservation Sketching Expedition. The men looked through my sketchbook, seeing sketches of people, cattle and homesteads, but their first question to me was ‘are you afraid of elephants?’. The question made me think more about their encounters with elephants and resulted in this painting, which illustrates two contrasting views. The large head on the left of center is an elephant cow, painted in a relaxed pose, with her long, gently curved trunk leading to smaller images of the herd and a safari vehicle containing tourists. The washes of color used on this side of the painting have soft edges and there is a circular flow, down the elephant’s trunk, around the herd and towards the vehicle. In contrast the large elephant head on the right is an agitated bull. His ears are raised and his trunk curled, while his upturned tusks point towards 2 more bulls in similar poses, and a man attempting to keep the elephants away from his maize crop and home. On this side of the painting there are stronger reds and hard-edged washes, while the smaller elephants are angular and facing opposite directions. Many of Africa’s elephants live or spend time outside protected reserves, alongside a growing human population, and as competition increases between people and wildlife over access to natural resources, human-wildlife conflict increases too. It is African people who will ultimately decide the fate of Africa’s wildlife and determine whether to accept the hazards of living beside Earth’s largest land mammal, so finding solutions that allow people & wildlife to share natural resources amicably is a high priority. Part of APW’s mission statement is to “support the collective management of natural resources for the mutual benefit of people and wildlife” and with the majority of their staff being residents of the local area, they are well placed to assist the community with plans to alleviate poverty, conserve biodiversity and reduce human-wildlife conflict – outcomes which will benefit both people and elephants. The original acrylic painting of Elephant! is available for sale, priced at US$3200. If it is sold privately I will donate 30% of the sale price to APW. If it sells during an exhibition where the venue collects a commission (usually between 10-40%), APW will still receive a minimum of 10%. Limited edition giclées are also available with a 20% donation to APW from the sale of each piece.
  14. If you don't know about it, here is a link to the thread concerning Safaritalk's sponsorship of two female students at Koiyaki Guiding School, located in Naboisho Conservancy, adjacent to the Maasai Mara Reserve. http://safaritalk.net/topic/9806-safaritalk-guiding-scholarship/?hl=koiyaki I had the chance to visit the Koiyaki Guiding School while I was staying in Naboisho Conservancy adjacent to the Maasai Mara recently. I just wanted to see what it was like and maybe casually check how the Safaritalk-sponsored students are doing, so I didn’t pre-flag myself as a “sponsor’s representative”. Since my guide from Encounter Mara, Daniel Ntika, was a graduate himself (and a very successful one) I didn’t need anyone else to show me around. It is only 10 minutes from camp and so we just popped in on the way back from following lions for a few hours. The Principal, Simon Nkoitoi, wasn’t there, but we went to announce my presence to the Deputy Principal, Julius Kiseimei. He was already very pleased to have a visitor, and that pleasure doubled when I told him I was part of the group from Safaritalk who were sponsoring two women currently enrolled. Definitely do not hesitate to drop by when you are in Olare Motorogi or Naboisho (good excuse for someone staying in Olare Motorogi or the reserve near Talek Gate to take a legal peek at Naboisho, actually – you could easily see something interesting on the way). The school Assistant Principal Julius Kisemei The school reminded me of other proudly run, basically funded rural schools I have seen in developing countries, although of course they do quite a bit of the learning outside, and that is where they all were today – learning to drive a truck in preparation for taking their HGV tests. The curriculum is clearly based on a vocational school and the place has that kind of feeling – oil as well as chalk. If you’re like me you’ll not have thought that of the training and learning, the birds, animals, ecology and plants are only part of the story, and key subjects at the school are things like driving and basic mechanics, geography, first aid and communications (they need to learn how to communicate with foreign guests, understand what they need, and how to present things to them). Another surprise is that their students can now come from all over the country if they have the sponsorship, although the vast majority (around 85% says Daniel) are still Maasai. The school also runs short courses open to anyone in the local community, such as foreign languages. The intention of all is to teach people in the local communities skills that will help them benefit appropriately from the safari boom on their doorstep, and that wider responsibility is actually more at the heart of their mission than simply turning out Kenya Professional Guides Association qualified guides. This, reading between lines, is what I understand. They take just over 20 students a year (basically one classroom full) and have a very high graduation rate. Although I don’t know exactly how many graduates have gone on to get Bronze Medals, I believe it is more than 50% (probably substantially more, but keep in mind the KPGA qualification is not the sole goal of all students - employability is first) with at least 10% now having Silver Medals – a number growing as rewards from the camps for improved qualifications increase. The school recorded 16 or so Silver Medal alumni as of last year, but Daniel thinks that is seriously understated and that the actual figure is now in the high 20s but the school haven’t updated their records. Daniel should know, as one of the early Koiyaki Silver Medalists (2009) but I am sure there are real stats somewhere - keeping in mind Kenyan stats are often out of date. So don't go quoting theses figures with certainty - it just gives you an idea. The honor roll - graduates of Koiyaki by year. Hopefully you can click on this to see a big enough picture to play look for your guide. Daniel and Benjamin (our guide at Kicheche in 2009) are there in the first class. The current class is not in this picture as it was obscured by other paper (it's not history yet!). Note the stats on the left-hand side are for up to 2008!! But of course the class of 2013-2014 is most interesting to us and Daniel found it for us. There are actually about 6 female students this year I think. While I was there a couple of students came back from their driving lessons to say hello, including one of the students that we sponsor, Sophy. People really appreciate it that you sponsor students here, as they clearly love their school and are grateful for the opportunities it has brought or will bring them. I went up two levels on the Daniel respect ladder instantly when he found out, even though I told him my personal role was insignificant as a group of us had come together to do it. The rest of you should definitely visit to get that feeling of what it means. I am not someone who likes that kind of attention at all, and I really only ‘fessed up on behalf of the rest of you – go and see yourself. I'd have stayed incognito if I thought I could. Despite the lack of correspondence from the Director, my feeling is that the people there are not at all indifferent. And Sophy is really quite impressive – confident but not too much so, and clearly intelligent and attentive. I am sure she is going to be a fine guide and camp owners if you don’t snap her up now, you can’t cry when you hear of her raking in the tourists by word of mouth at another camp! She says thanks to you all and that this is something that is really great for her. I didn’t ask to see either of the women and I didn’t ask Sophy why she doesn’t write, before you ask (hahaha). Like I said, I didn’t really want attention. I did feel I had to ask the Deputy Principal why the Principal doesn’t write, and he looked pained and said to please email him (the Deputy Princiipal). He checks his email and promises he will reply if we do. So how cool is school? Students say hi to Safaritalk More mugging for the camera and I smell a bit of true romance among the usual Maasai bromance! Sophy, a teacher (I think) and the proud alumni Daniel And of course I managed to put my foot in my mouth. Another two students came to say hi and thanks, in lieu of the other student we sponsor. Just because it was what they were studying, I asked the girl if she was finding the truck driving difficult, without thinking that was probably the most obvious question to ask a woman in the world (Why didn’t I just come out with “That wheel must be a bit heavy, love. Can your wee feet reach the pedals?”). But she wasn’t at all put out, rolled her eyes and said she had no problem with it – and she was better than the guy (in the picture) sniggering at my question beside her. To his credit, he admitted that was true. This is another who is going to be a hit as a guide. In the classrooms – current topics were clearly the stars at night and of course the driving. Looks like there has been a nasty accident in the simulation! A small snake collection. Early days - getting familiar with some facts about the wildlife. And don't forget where you come from. And after the photo Sophy ran off and then came back to give me (on behalf of us all) some gifts, which I wore for the rest of the day. Daniel took the picture and seems to have focused on the wall, but I think the resulting soft focus favors me, although Daniel's near NBA height does neither of us a favor. Not sure which prankster student slipped a turtle under my jumper though. Little devil! Really nice visit and close to a perfect morning - but I'll wait for the full trip report to explain why that was!
  15. A good news story to start 2013 from just before Christmas, watched over by Olympic champion and 800m world record holder, David Rudisha, and former 800m World Champion Billy Konchellah; The inaugural Maasai Olympic Games. There was a time when in order to prove their manhood and attract the girls a Maasai warrior had to kill a lion. Today, in the Maasailand of southern Kenya, Maasai groups do not hunt lion and instead compete against each other to high-jump, Maasai-style on the spot; throw spears (javelins); run 5000m and emulate Mo Farrah and doing the unorthodox Mobot move; throw their traditional rungu at targets; and sprint 200m and pull a lightning bolt celebratory pose. The rewards for the Maasai, other than finding potential mates, include sponsorship to train in Kenya's high-altitude training camp of Eldoret and then compete in the New York Marathon, win educational scholarships, a stud bull, and to meet their heroes and fellow Maasai David Rudisha, Billy Konchellah and Ruth Waithera Nganga. Wildlife flourishes and conservation tourism benefits all communities it operates in. Instead of hunting for lions these Maasai are competing for trophies of a very different sort, bringing respect, pride and esteem. "The Maasai Olympics is the first time I am aware of that the Maasai leadership of an entire region has proposed to take lion killing out of their warrior culture after 500 years, making it an actual taboo and providing athletics instead as an alternative warrior activity." Tom Hill, Maasailand Preservation Trust On 22nd December Great Plains Conservation co-sponsored this hugely enjoyable event with the Big Life Foundation/Maasailand Preservation Trust in Kimana Wildlife Sancturary. We are proud to support initiatives like this and congratulate the Mbirikani Game Ranch, where Great Plains' ol Donyo Lodge is located, on winning the overall title against their competing Maasai neighbours. Congratulations too to all that took part to make this the first of many Maasai Olympics, a better option today and for tomorrow for the preservation of Maasai culture and the wildlife the Maasai live amongst. Expect many more Rudishas in the Rio 2016 Olympics. to view video news coverage of the eventhttp://www.greatplainsconservation.com
  16. Lions, Livestock & Living Walls: An Artistic Study of Community & Conservation in Tanzania by Alison Nicholls. Opening Reception: Sunday April 21st 2013, Darien, Connecticut. Sleeping Lion Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls Join me at the Opening of my Exhibition to benefit the African People & Wildlife Fund in the Maasai Steppe, Tanzania. Alison sketching livestock My 2nd Conservation Sketching Expedition involved visits in 2011 and 2012 to the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in northern Tanzania, where I sketched the people, wildlife and landscapes of the Maasai Steppe and learnt about APW's work with rural communities to help them manage natural resources for the mutual benefit of people & wildlife. This exhibition features my Tanzania field sketches, my studio paintings and details of APW’s work, including their highly successful Human-Wildlife Conflict Prevention Program. Maasai Mamas Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls An Opening Reception will be held on Sunday April 21st 2013 from 3-5pm, and will be attended by Dr Laly Lichtenfeld, founder and director of APW. The exhibition will run from April 12 - 26, 2013 at the Darien Nature Center, 120 Brookside Road, Darien, CT 06820. 20% of exhibition sales will benefit APW and 10% will benefit the Darien Nature Center. Dr Laly Lichtenfeld, Alison Nicholls & Charles Trout Alison Nicholls is a member of Artists For Conservation, the Society of Animal Artists, the Explorers Club and the Salmagundi Club. Her work has been featured in wildlife art magazines in the USA and UK, has been exhibited at the Botswana Mission to the United Nations in New York and has been used by the US Department of State to promote the “Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking” initiative. She frequently lectures about art, Africa, wildlife and conservation, and guides Art Safaris in South Africa on behalf of Africa Geographic magazine. In the Dust, acrylic 20x24" by Alison Nicholls Read about my Conservation Sketching Expedition to Tanzania. Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund. Visit my Website for further Exhibition Details. Sun Spots, acrylic 29x29" by Alison Nicholls Alison sketching baobabs in Tarangire NP.
  17. As this topic has come up before regarding camps in Kenya and Botswana, we thought it would be prudent to explain what we as a camp do to try to minimize our impact on the environment while maximising our impact on conservation and local communities. All of Encounter Mara is designed to have the lowest impact possible on the surrounding environment while providing a comfortable, classic safari experience as well as tangible benefits for local conservation and community development efforts. Elements of this eco-friendly design include: 100% Solar Power – All tents have plenty of light provided through low-wattage bulbs, run solely off of Solar power. Only the dining tent is equipped with electrical outlets for charging electronics/batteries which is also provided solely through solar power Eco-friendly waste water system – All waste water is treated and filtered before disposal Eco-friendly cooking and heating methods – All cooking is done on pressurized gas from Nairobi or eco-friendly recycled charcoal briquettes. Boilers for hot water also use eco-friendly charcoal, and camp fires use wood from sustainable plantations in Limuru. Minimal plastic waste – All drinking water is decanted from large 20 litre containers of mineral water from Limuru into glass bottles in the rooms and aluminium bottles for activities to avoid excessive wastage of small plastic bottles. We support the “Throttle The Bottle”campaign – a new initiative to help sensitize East Africans to the menace that plastic waste presents to our lives. Completely removable infrastructure – All structures in camp are either constructed completely out of canvas, or temporary woodwork. No cement has been used in construction, and no structure is permanent. Replanting of trees – In order to offset the impact of the use of wood furniture and carbon emissions, one indigenous tree is planted, and nurtured to maturity, in Limuru for every guest that stays at the camp. Locally Grown Vegetables – All vegetables come from our own vegetable garden in Limuru or from local Limuru farmers, using sustainable agricultural practices, and are supplemented by a small vegetable/herb garden in camp, with no chemical pesticide use. Biodegradable soaps – In order to avoid contaminating the local ground-water, all guest soap and shampoo is organic, and biodegradable. Traditional canvas bucket showers This aids in water conservation whilst still providing as much water as requested for hot showers Laundry Schedule – Planned washing of linen and towels once every three nights or with new guests (unless specifically requested otherwise) helps to conserve water Rainwater harvesting – Large collection tanks harvest rainwater from roof gutters for multiple uses within camp. Waste separation – All solid, inorganic waste from camp is separated and categorized to be sent back to Nairobi for recycling or disposal. All organic waste is composted in camp. Local employment – More than 90% of the staff at Encounter Mara Camp are from the Maasai communities immediately surrounding Mara Naboisho Conservancy. Support of Koiyaki Guiding School – For every guest that stays at Encounter Mara, one day of school fees is paid for a student at Koiyaki Guiding School. Support of local conservation – Encounter Mara Camp is affiliated with African Impact and it’s Masai Mara conservation volunteer program . This program involves work with Koiyaki Guiding School, cheetah monitoring with the Kenya Wildlife Trust, lion conservation and research through the Mara Naboisho Lion Project, and community development. For Encounter Mara, being a part of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy’s leadership in community-based conservation was a major motivation for the establishment of the camp. We believe that the best way for the truly sustainable conservation of Africa’s wildlife is to work closely with local communities and ensure real benefits to those living in and around precious ecosystems, such as the Masai Mara. We are privileged to work alongside great visionaries in the Naboisho community who have led the way in preserving their own land for the future and providing a sustainable income for their families. We are committed to responsible low-impact tourism operations, employment of local communities and being part of creative solutions to the many problems facing surrounding communities and the conservation of the Masai Mara ecosystem, as well as Kenya’s wider natural environment. We believe the time has come for true consultation with local communities and for partnerships that involve a different brand of tourism, which do not exploit or commercialize local cultures and communities. We believe in an authentic guest experience that embraces our great respect for the Masai people’s culture and our own passion for the conservation of the incredible wildlife surrounding the camp. We understand that some of our guests may wish to contribute or make donations to local community projects. Such donations can easily be made to local schools or health centres. Please visit the website below for a guide of what items make the biggest impact and how to fit them into your luggage. We are also now proud to be corporate members of two prominent East African Conservation Organizations:
  18. The crowds have left Masai Mara, but the wildlife in Mara Naboisho Conservancy is still bursting at the seams. Many thousands of wildebeest from the Loita plains to the North-East are still "Loitaring" (sorry, couldn't help it) around and gnu-ing across the plains with lions in tow. Elephants are back in large numbers, and our clients are seeing more and more leopards every month! So you see, right now is a FANTASTIC time to visit Encounter Mara Camp, so you can experience all this wonderful wildlife without anyone else around to spoil it for you! Book to stay at Encounter Mara any time between now and the 14th of December 2012 and get 50% off from your second night onwards! *offer valid only for New Non Resident bookings, and cannot be combined with other specials.
  19. Back by popular demand, we're reintroducing our Free Hot Air Balloon Safari for any new bookings to stay at Encounter Mara between the 15th of December 2012 and the 2nd of January 2013!! This includes road transfers to and from the balloon flight (game-drive on the way back to camp), the balloon flight itself, and a full, cooked, champagne breakfast on the plains! This comes at a great time for families to spend their Christmas and New Year holidays with our expert Maasai guides, scouting for wildlife, and experiencing the magic of Masai Mara *Offer valid only for new non resident bookings between the 15th of December 2012 and the 2nd of January 2013, and cannot be combined with other special offers.

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