The idea of developing a walking route through Maasailand to create a charity challenge came about during a conversation about charity challenges in general, when developmentDirect was looking at putting together an expedition to climb Kilimanjaro, in support of its involvement in Tanzania. The discussion centred on the fact that many challenges have become so popular they have lost much of their appeal and there was a need for something completely different. Coming up with “Walking the Maasai Way” we believe we have something that is not only unique but has the added and different challenge of coping with walking and camping in the wilds, where large animals still roam freely and the people still lead lives largely unaffected by the modern world.

The task of turning the idea into reality fell on John Blissett and two Maasai guides, Nickson Merku and Moses Letoluo, with whom he has worked with for many years. The original idea was to walk from the border of the Maasai Mara Conservancy, just south of Narok, to Sekanani on the boundary of the Mara Reserve, beyond which walking is not allowed. The three of them spent several days and many miles travelling through the area, fording rivers, examining potential campsites and meeting elders before establishing the preliminary route for the Maasai Way.

Some routes were discarded on safety grounds, where the bush was too thick to avoid accidental contact with dangerous game. Whilst Maasai might be able to climb a tree to avoid buffalo, the thought of trying to get a bunch of Wazungu (white people) up the tree first didn’t bear thinking about. They also had to discard some, closer to tourist areas, where the Maasai’s traditional land usage and tenure structure has fallen apart under pressure from outside business interests, and individuals have broken with ancient traditions in order to make money for themselves. In these areas it is no longer possible for elders to provide blanket permission to cross their land.

In search of a fitting end to the walk John has since travelled further south, deep into one of the remotest corners of Maasailand and met with the Loita Maasai who have allowed him to use their camp at Olorte and walk in the surrounding forests and hills.

The walk provides a physical challenge, interest and variety over open plains, rocky hill slopes and forested hills. The walk has also been designed to provide close encounters with a wide range of Kenya’s big game and a more intimate interaction with the people and the birds, insects, reptiles and plant-life than is normally the case on a conventional, motorised safari.

The normal itinerary is as follows:

Day 1  Naivasha  Fish Eagle Inn 
Day 2  Maji Moto  Iltalala Camp
Day 3  Lebentera  Ilparakuo Camp 
Day 4  Lebentera  Ilparakuo Camp 
Day 5 Olorte  Olkoroi Camp 
Day 6 Olorte  Olkoroi Camp 
Day 7  Olorte  Olkoroi Camp 
Day 8 Nairobi  Wildebeest Camp 

Although the route has been roughly mapped out it is not fixed and is likely to  vary on the day depending on what animals are around, where rivers can be crossed safely, if rain has fallen recently, etc. This means, for at least some of the time, you will be walking over ground that has only been covered by Maasai before.
  
With increasing pressure from tourist developments, in and around the Mara Reserve, and the growth in agriculture on group ranchland, the opportunity to walk freely through this wilderness area is one that is likely to disappear altogether within the next few years.

We normally provide an optional extension to this walk of a short, more conventional, motorised, game-viewing safari into the Maasai Mara Reserve