I saw a Gary Larson Farside cartoon online over coffee on my last full day in Masai Mara, and almost snorted out my coffee from laughing so hard… it was so perfect for the situation!
So my two Masai Guides and I conspired to try a very quick recreation that day at the local village, and update it a bit.. (cellphone, shades etc) for 2018. Its not a perfect mirror, but given the 4 minutes available to us before we got hit with the rain. I think it worked out very well. We had great fun doing it together, and the Masai are very friendly, welcoming and humorous!
Of course I asked them for a proper Masai name to use for the re-creation, and “George” offered “Berika”, but was laughing very hard with “Mark” the other guide that I began to get a bit suspicious that they were feeding me something naughty (which would have been fine, and actually even more hilarious), but so far the two other Swahili speaking people I asked confirmed that Berika means “Blessed” in Swahili. George made a great model, but it was so funny that as soon as the rain drops started, he was running for the jeep. Both Mark and I were laughing like hell that George was like a cat (in this case an African Lion), in that he was instantly trying to hide from the rain!
In truth while I had been running away from home for an adventure with my Masai guides, (a safari in Kenya or Tanzania is certainly at the top of the list of great adventures), it does takes a bit of effort to get there..
The Road to Masai Mara
There is really only two practical options to get to Masai Mara, you can fly in one of the smaller planes that do the route, but be warned that you will typically be limited to 15 kg of baggage, since my camera bag weighs just over 14 kg, that would mean that I would be doing my photo safari naked as I would have very little room for clothes and other personal stuff. Rather than creating an international incident, and/or scaring both the Masai and the animal life, I elected to hire a private car.
However the road to Mara isn’t the best, particularly the last section after Narok.. the clue being that Nairobi to Narok and Narok to Mara were going to take nearly the same amount of time, but Mara is fairly close to Narok. Besides I wanted to get a bit of a flavour for the countryside.. and it was not without its own level of interesting sights and some amusement as well. In particular, I found the business signs to be very entertaining, with names like “Graceland”, and other rather ambitious names.
The best one was for a combo business, a hotel and butchery… (Kungu Maitu Hotel & Butchery to be precise – link provided, because it actually exists), which lead me to speculate on not only what kind of clientele they would be attracting, but also to devise some potential marketing slogans for them like:
You can smell our success!
We cater to Serial Killers – bundle our services to slash your costs!
Just “Moo”-ve on in, we left the lights on and the body bags out for you!
Seriously though, along the highway the most frequent sight was of local people tending to herds of animals like goats and sheep.
Arriving in Masai Mara, it was clear that there were a few deficiencies in my plan to join them. These “issues” were soon brought to my attention, in that:
1) I could not pass the jumping test (See banner top of page – Masai men show off the prowess in order to attract a wife by demonstrating how high they can jump)
2) Masai males are normally circumcised as teenagers – in order to demonstrate their toughness and ability to endure pain. Since I couldn’t go back in time and re-demonstrate, it sounded to my like my only other possible option for this was to go out an kill a lion barehanded… While I can show you video evidence that Honey badgers are certainly able to make lions and lionesses literally “back up”, killing one or more is quite a different matter (and obviously something I am ethically totally opposed to – my personal view is that any kind of big game hunting is unwarranted).
3) Masai are some of the tallest people in the world, averaging 6’3″ tall. This sign sealed my fate
Alas, joining the Masai was not to be for the Wandering Honeybadger, I had to remain a simple short term visitor!