The Masai are unique, and curious, and shy, and beautiful all at once. What amazes me is their shyness in the face of 1000s of visitors each year. On closer observation, I figured out that tourists make very little effort to interact with the people on whose land we trample. Here is the typical scenario - which is controversial given that new friends met on this safari are now added to the travel log:
All visitors travel on the same dusty, broken down road (whether staying at the lodge @ $250+/night or campsites); - unless they fly in on a chartered flight - in the same safari vehicles to see the same animals on the same dirt roads
. BUT we have a hard time spending $5 each to the Masai men who dance and tell stories at night; or spending $15 per person to visit the village; or tipping $3 per person for the guided walks; or spending $15 on a piece of cloth from them. Yes, a lot of these things are really touristy, but if more tourist dollars went to these people, we may not feel this pressure to contribute. The Masai already know how much we spend on the tours & they have to listen to us say "no" everytime they offer to provide a service for a small fee. At the end, they watch us hop into our vehicles and leave the area whilst commenting on how colourful these people look. Even I did not participate as much as I normally would ... got caught up in the bubble ... Guess I am trying to say that instead of wondering how we can help the people through the corrupt governments, just bring an extra fifty bucks with you to give away.
Lighter note ...
As for the game drives, I loved all of them. I've decided that my favourites are the ones done in the early morning. This is the best time to see all the birds & to catch a glimpse of the elusive leopard. I saw another one on the 4th morning ... quite young in comparison to the one in Samburu. I have also seen the Masai Giraffe ...
it took 2 days to get close, but we did. At the end of 3 safaris, I have seen the "Big Five" ... I do not have a photo of the Buffalo because they were two far away in some dense grass. However, I hope to capture them on photo in the Serengeti. I have seen BOTH the male and female Lions. I'm told by drivers and other visitors that many may not see the male Lion. My fellow travellers have been great and I have made some new friends ... some from Holland and others from America. Hope to keep in touch.
Kenya has exceeded my expectations - despite terrible dust and bad roads, the service was superb and the food substantial (3 meals/day) for a budget traveller.
The Masai Mara is HUGE! The plains are wide, the sky is immense & the animals are widely spread out. Although the Mara National Reserve is a protected area, there is no fencing of any kind. This means that all of the surrounding land (villages, lodges, & campsites) is open to the roaming animals from the Reserve ... heehee ... but we have security ... tell that to an elephant trumpeting in the dark ... hee hee ... I'm here for 3 nights. Another permanent camp, but the accommodations are individual concrete cabins. We do have flushing toilets and hot showers ... bonus!