Maasai Village & Hot Air Balloon
Left: The Maasai women performing a welcome song/dance for the visitors. Right: The other two hot air balloons ahead of ours.
In this article I will complete my Maasai Mara experience by sharing the two additional activities I took part in whilst at Maasai Mara.
This is a follow up article: Maasai Mara National Reserve Safari
Myself and my friend decided to add two activities to our Safari experience. Both came with additional costs but worth every penny.
Maasai Village - $30 including transportation Hot Air Balloon - $450 including transportation, game drive and champagne breakfast
The Maasai are a tribe located throughout East Africa. They are some what traditional in terms of how they choose to live their lives from the clothes they wear to their selection method for marriage.
On arrival we were greeted by the Village leader who went by the name John (I am sure that was for our benefit). He shared some information about his community: the people, the homes, the land, the animals and much more.
All the families live together as one large community but with separate homes for each family. They work together on the land by rearing animals, farming, making beaded jewellery and raising their children.
On entering a fenced area through a small gate you find a large number of mud shacks around the outskirts. All are a single story, very low in height and generally small in size. Inside, the homes are very basic and built for one person and a small child or baby. There is no electricity or even windows as to keep the rooms cool at all times, also making it very dark and difficult to navigate.
The land & animals
Walking around I first noticed how dry the land was and how vast also. There are donkeys everywhere you turn. John, the village leader told us that they use the donkeys not only for transportation but also as security to guard the land.
A very interesting twist to the tour came when John, the leader told us about a traditional method for partner selection. The men chant and dance for the women then one by one they come to the front of the group and jump as high as they can. The women watching then choose who they prefer based on how high they can jump.
Firstly, I was surprised at the method in general. I don’t see how a man who can jump very high would prove to be any better a husband than a man who can’t jump high. But who am I to judge.
Secondly, I was even more surprised that it’s the women who have the power to decide and not the men. This I can fully accept!
The experience was very informative and interesting and I would recommend it with a slight heads up.
Unfortunately, due to their lack of money they have no issue asking for it. When you are shown into a local home, the village leader asks for a sizeable donation for allowing you inside. Of course, he asks once you’re already inside the home so you feel cornered and give in. At the very end of the tour, you are taken to an open shop where all the women display their beaded jewellery. That wasn’t the issue. All the women stand around the circular shop surrounded by perforated fencing and watch you browse. I felt very uncomfortable and this made me not want to buy anything.
Hot Air Balloon
It had been my dream for a long time to fly over a spectacular place in a Hot Air Balloon. I am so happy that I chose to do it at Maasai Mara.
It is still pitch black outside when your wake up call startles you out of bed. Scrambling around to get dressed and look alive in time for a quick cup of much needed coffee. The drive to the Balloon wasn’t very long and we even spotted some wildlife along the way.
Arriving at the landing spot we patiently waited for the guides, drivers, security etc to set up. As the sun slowly began to rise we were given the all clear to climb into our balloon. Yes, climb! I never realised the enormity of a hot air balloon. The basket was lay on its side, therefore you must climb into it horizontally where you are left lying down holding on for dear life as the balloon engine roars to life followed by a sharp tilt. Moments later you are standing up right and the balloon is hovering slightly above the ground. Ready to go!
Such a surreal feeling flying high whilst watching the sunrise. It’s so peaceful and still that you can hear yourself breathing. That silence is disturbed by the roaring of the Balloons fire breathing engine.
As we hover/fly over the Maasai Mara we see the other balloons in the distance at various stages of flight. Also we can see nature at its best. The vast land of grass, trees and exotic flowers, the various wildlife searching for its morning meal, the many streams creating a colourful images for the viewers above and the sun beaming down upon us as if it were just for us alone.
With the Hot Air Balloon package came a Champagne breakfast. You could eat and drink as much as you wanted. Of course soft drinks plus tea and coffee were included. The breakfast was delicious and super sized. We stayed there at least one hour to relax and soak up the rays whilst filling our bellies with goodness. Then it was time to head back to our accommodation. What we didn’t know was on the way back we got to experience yet another game drive for more than an hour. This was the day we saw various elephants and countless giraffe going about their day. Truly a spectacular sight!
If you decide to venture to the Maasai Mara, I advise you to consider taking part in the additional activities. Although they may seem expensive after already paying for the Safari itself, the icing on the cake is sweet.