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This is a page that focuses on the most impressive and dramatic of the local cultures that we encountered on our trip: the Maasai peoples.

The Maasai are an indigenous African tribe of semi-nomadic people located primarily in Kenya and northern Tanzania. With their bright red traditional dress and a reputation for being fierce warriors, the Maasai are probably one of the most familiar tribes of Eastern Africa. Despite the growth of civilisation, the Maasai have largely managed to stay out of the mainstream and maintain their traditional ways, although this becomes more challenging each year. [wikipedia]

Note: if you see a thumbnail in this sub-report that has a color around it, it means that the image is an additional one that is not included in the main trip report.
Maasai Elder
An elder Maasai walking alongside the road. [enlarge]
Maasai at Springlands
One of of the helpers or porters at the Springlands was apparently a Maasai. This was our first look at their wonderfully colorful clothes. [enlarge]
Despite their reputation as fierce warriors, Maasai culture revolves around their cattle. One of their spiritual beliefs is that their rain god Ngai gave all cattle to the Maasai people, and therefore anyone else who possesses cattle must have stolen them from the Maasai. This has led to some fatal altercations with other tribes of the regions over the centuries when the Maasai attempt to reclaim their "property". [wikipedia]

Maasai are well known for their tall elegant muscular features; they have a simple yet distinctive clothing scheme, wearing their bright blood-red shoulder cloak (shuka), and the women wearing bangles and strings of coloured beads around their neck (both sexes wear earrings, taking pride in stretching large holes in their ear lobes).
courtesy PChen
Maasai cattle herd
This is a Maasai cattle herd at the Ngorongoro crater conservation area. Note how the cattle are branded on head and rump. [enlarge]
Colorful Squares
The brilliant patterns of Maasai cloth for sale at a stand near Lake Manyara NP. [enlarge]
The Ngorongoro area is a traditional Maasai pastoral land, and an agreement between them and the government has allowed them to continue to live here in their traditional way. It is for this reason that this is a conservation area and not a national park (which allows no human habitation at all).
courtesy PChen
Ngorongoro highlands
This is a shot of highlands at Ngorongoro Conservation area. This spot is immediately southwest of the crater itself. Note the Maasai village. Large stretches of the conservation area are open to traditional Maasai habitation, as a result of a land agreement. [enlarge]
Circumcision - for show
Here you can see some Maasai boys dressed up in their traditional post-circumsion clothes and face-paint. I don't think the've just been circumcised, though. And, they are standing next to the road, posing! - and I'm pretty sure they are looking for money in return (this shot was taken from our Land Rover as it drove past). Note the two boys in the background applying paint to each other. [enlarge]
Two more!
A couple more boys near Serengeti who seem to be doing the same by-the-roadside-just-circumcised thing. Kind of spooky looking, though, no? [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Maasai Village
This is a view of a well-defined Maasai village (known as a kraal or enkang) at NCA (Ngorongoro conservation area). The main road through the park runs right by this village. The village is tourist-visitable - in exchange for a fee, you can visit it, and the residents will display traditional ceremonies, dress, everyday life, etc. Pu and Vinh visited the village while on our trip. [enlarge]
Maasai Village zoomed
[zoomed version of village in previous picture]. This is a view of a well-defined Maasai village at NCA (Ngorongoro conservation area). The main road through the park runs right by this village. The village is tourist-visitable - in exchange for a fee, you can visit it, and the residents will display traditional ceremonies, dress, everyday life, etc. [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Maasai at village
A Maasai warrior at the village. Note the houses in the background. Maasai houses are low and loaf shaped made out of clay and cow dung. [enlarge]
There are numerous traditions and ceremonies performed by Maasai men. Perhaps best known is the warrior "jumping" dance, where young Maasai morani (warrior-youth) leap into the air from a standing position, in order to demonstrate their strength and agility. [wikipedia]
courtesy PChen
Starting a ceremony
Here, a group of Maasai warriors at the village start a jumping ceremony. [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Circling around
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Warriors and child
A Maasai child watches the warriors march by in procession. [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Maasai kids
This little guy seems to be saying 'not me please' [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Maasai women
A group of Maasai women observe the jumping ceremony. The best guys jump highest! [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Jumping ceremony pictures
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Jumping ceremony pictures
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Onlookers
A group of Maasai stand at the edge of the village, watching. [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Jumping ceremony pictures
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Jumping ceremony pictures
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Jumping ceremony pictures
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Jumping ceremony pictures
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Maasai Warrior Headdress
Maasai warriors have elaborate and beautiful headdresses and hair. This is all shaved off when they become elders later in life. [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Maasai Warrior
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Maasai Spears
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Worthy of National Geographic
A beautiful picture of three Maasai youth standing amidst their huts, with the beautiful Ngorongoro highlands in the background. [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Maasai girl
A beautifully adorned Maasai girl. [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Young Maasai Woman
[enlarge]
courtesy PChen
courtesy PChen
Schooltime!
The schoolhouse at the Maasai village. [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Studying numbers
Here, children are learning their numbers (among other things). [enlarge]
courtesy PChen
Pu at the village
A shot of Pu with (I think) the elders who are in charge of the village. [enlarge]
The story of the Maasai is quite fascinating. For more information, follow the links below:


[ Kilimanjaro trip home page | The main trip report | Real-time Trip Updates | Chombo & his men | Wildlife Extravaganza | Spotlight on the Maasai | Exotic Spice Islands of Zanzibar | Route Descriptions | Maps, Graphs & GPS Data | Audio & Video Repository | A Contrasting Tragedy | Markus' Report | Trip Preparations ]

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