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A Maasai Blessing, Skumfidus and Sparklers

A Maasai Blessing, Skumfidus and Sparklers

Skumfidus has to be one of the coolest words ever!  I learnt that it’s the Danish word for “marshmallow” when we took the Finke family on safari at the end of December.  Hanne, Jacob and their three children have recently moved to Nairobi for Jacob’s job and Hanne’s parents, sisters and their children came to visit for Christmas.  Hanne contacted us to help plan a safari that would suit 14 people over three generations and here’s their story to give you ideas for your own family holiday.

intro pic

Maasai Mara Safari

On December 28, six adults and eight children arrived at Mara Explorers Camp in time for lunch.  It had been a long drive and everyone was ready for some food and to stretch their legs.  After lunch there was the option to go for a walk with the Maasai to explore the area which some of the group did.  The rest found their tents, sleeping bags, luggage and a pool table and settled in.

The next day everyone spent all day game driving in the park.  We had prepared a scavenger hunt for the children with a lucky dip prize if they spotted everything on the list.  When they returned in the evening everyone of course got a prize and they had all written a bonus item on the bottom of the page: a cheetah!  We celebrated a successful day of wildlife watching by toasting marshmallows on the campfire.  That’s when I learnt the Danish word for marshmallow: skumfidus.

Seek shade for picnic lunch in the Maasai Mara

Seeking shade for picnic lunch in the Maasai Mara

Elephant, Maasai Mara

Elephant, Maasai Mara

Game driving in the Maasai Mara

Game driving in the Maasai Mara

Grandma and Grandpa went for a hot air balloon flight early the next morning.  Watching the sunrise over the savannah is one of the most magical experiences you can have in Kenya.

Maasai Culture

When they returned, we headed for Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp.  The wildlife in the Maasai Mara had been pretty amazing, but Maji Moto was the highlight of this trip.  On arrival our Maasai hosts gave us shukas (the blankets Maasai wear) and performed a welcome dance.  The Maasai are famous for jumping as part of their dance and of course audience participation is a must.  Afterwards, we were shown to our “huts”.  The accommodation at Maji Moto is Maasai-style mud huts, which are very comfortable and attractive.

Maasai dancing

Maasai dancing

Once we lost the heat of the sun we went for a walk to the hot springs where women from the area collect water.  Some of our guests tried carrying the jerry cans and were full of admiration for the women who carry them several kilometres every day.  Next we walked up a rocky outcrop to watch the sun set.

"Maji Moto" means "hot water" for the hot springs

“Maji Moto” means “hot water” for the hot springs

In the morning, the family went for a walk up the nearby hill and then visited the widows’ village.  When a Maasai man passes away he leaves multiple wives with no financial means.  The Maasai Cultural Camp supports the widows with some of the profits from the visitors going to the women.  When guests visit the widows’ village they can see traditional Maasai life and visit the traditional healer.  Along the way the Maasai guys made the children spears and practiced throwing them.  For the rest of the trip, the spears came everywhere… we had to break the news to the kids that they probably wouldn’t be allowed to take them on the plane home.

Visiting the Widows' Village

Visiting the Widows’ Village

Warrior training at Maji Moto

Warrior training at Maji Moto

But the afternoon was to bring the absolute highlight of the whole five days.  We hiked four kilometres to the Ol Pul Bush Camp.  When we arrived at the clearing we found large beds made from leaves and a white goat tethered near the bushes.  We knew we were to be roasting a goat for dinner, but I hadn’t really thought though the whole process.  The kids were totally into it, except for Mathilde who I hung out with while her brother came and terrorised us with the goat’s head and other gross stuff boys do!  They all helped with the skinning and the butchering and even drank the blood straight from the neck!

ceremonial goat killing

Ceremonial goat killing

Drinking the blood

Drinking the blood

It was a long day!

It was a long day!

The elder Maasai gave Grandpa a blessing for his birthday.  Traditional brew was served to the adults – it’s made from honeycomb and Francis’ drink even had a bee in it, just to prove the point I guess.  And then the Maasai and the Danes sang their respective traditional songs for New Year and danced while the meat roasted on the biggest campfire ever.  Being New Years Eve, sparklers were compulsory and Karen distributed them to everyone.  As we held them to the fire they started sparkling, as they do.  But the Maasai had never experienced sparklers and got quite a start when they started sparkling!

New Years Eve around the fire

New Years Eve around the fire

Sleeping under the stars

Sleeping under the stars

It really was a unique way to bring in the New Year and to celebrate a special birthday.  And it was wonderful for the cousins to have the opportunity to have such an experience together when they have been missing playing together since Hanne and Jacob relocated to Kenya.

Are you looking for a special safari for your family?  Whether you are living in Kenya and have relatives visiting or you are all living in the same town but looking for a chance to reconnect, we would love to help you plan a holiday to remember.  Contact us today by emailing tracey@ota-responsibletravel.com.

Fantastic safari for 3 generations – Masaai Mara and Masaai cultural stay (Maji Moto)

Review by Hanne Finke Ferdinand

Going on safari in Kenya for the first time as a family group of 14 aged between 5 and 72 years makes for a challenge in organising. Tracey at OTA immediately made us feel safe by listening, suggesting, thinking along with us and very quickly providing an itinerary that made it a lot easier to grasp what an adventure it would be – even within our limited budget!
We had 2 amazing days in the Maasai Mara – camping in a really nice little campground and with delicious camper-food cooked and served by Tracey. The kids enjoyed the space to play, sit by the fire and run around when we were not stuck in the car watching amazing sceneries and wild animals in the Mara.
Afterwards 2 amazing days with Maasai in Maji Moto – warrior training, community projects, widow village, herbal medicine, bonfire without paper and matches, ceremonial goat killing, singing, dancing, sleeping under the stars in the bush etc. We learned SO much about the culture and young as well as old had the best of times.
THANK you OTA for finding these pearls for us in the jungle of lodges and camps in Kenya.

We would recommend OTA for your family adventure at any time!!!

Bonfire fun and singing

Bonfire fun and singing

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About overlandtraveladventures

A philanthropic tour operator, creating positive experiences both for travellers and the local communities we interact with. We provide quality tailor-made tours that visit the sight-seeing highlights as well as community-based organisations.

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