Walking the Maasai Way

developmentDIRECT
'Learning from each other around the world by linking schools and communities worldwide in meaningful and sustainable partnerships'

developmentDirect is a small, UK-based charity with long-established and strong links with communities in several parts of the developing world. It has been responsible for establishing and supporting medical and educational links between a large number of schools, hospitals and medical practices in North East England and East Africa, including Maasailand.

Through its links, developmentDirect is involved in a number of projects aimed at improving the facilities available to some of the poorest communities in Africa. As a way of raising funds to support these projects the charity runs a series of expeditions to walk through the heart of Maasailand, part of the Mara Conservation Area and one of the world’s most famous wildlife viewing destinations. We have used local knowledge and contacts to put together a fantastic opportunity for people to achieve something very special at the personal level and do so in the knowledge that their efforts are going to benefit local communities.

Two different Maasai Clans have given us permission to walk across their land and camp close to remote villages in the heart of the Olare Area, starting at Maji Moto and moving on to the Siana Plains and the boundary of the Maasai Mara Reserve then on to an extremely remote area in the southern Loita Hills, close to the Tanzanian Border. This is not only a once in a lifetime chance to walk and live in close contact with Africa’s big game, it is also a chance to learn how the Maasai way of life has remained largely unchanged for centuries.

You will spend 5-6 days walking through a vast tract of land that includes Kenya’s premier safari destination. All the animals that you can see on a traditional game-viewing safari to the Maasai Mara will be around you while you are walking. We have carefully selected a route through open plains, light bush and forested hills that should allow our guides to steer you clear of encounters with some of the area’s more dangerous animals, but you will see plenty of signs of their presence particularly towards the end when you will be walking through an area that is home to large herds of elephant and buffalo. As well as seeing animals such as giraffe, zebra and a wide range of antelopes we often hear elephant, lion and leopard close by the camps at night.

The trips are organised and led by John Blissett, who has a lifetime’s experience of East Africa and regularly organises and manages trips for North East based doctors, nurses, teachers and students travelling on personal development programmes, as well as private, tailored game-viewing safaris. John has been given the Maasai name of Nderekeyia and is an elder of the Lebentera village. We use local guides and staff for the expedition, many of whom we have worked successfully with for a number of years.

We normally have a maximum group size of 12 walkers. This is supported by trained guides, drivers, cooks and night guards, all recruited from the local Maasai Community. The guides have been carefully selected for both their knowledge and experience of leading safaris in the bush and, during the course of your walk, they will not only keep you safe, but also impart some of the knowledge they have gained through a lifetime of living in the bush. Cooks and other camp staff will break camp in the morning, after you have left and prepare a new camp prior to your arrival each day. At night askaris (guards) will make sure any dangerous animals don’t stray into camp.

Detail about some of the projects this walk is helping to fund can be found in the Charity section.