Following time in school the rest of the trip will be spent in a vast tract of land in Southern Kenya that is occupied almost exclusively by the Maasai people and includes one of the world’s premier game-viewing safari destinations, the Maasai Mara, where vast numbers of wild animals still roam freely including the “Big Five” lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino and the people still live lives that have remained largely unchanged for generations.  

Before staying in the Maasai Mara Reserve itself the group will be spending their time as guests of two distinct clans, the Purku and Loita Maasai. John’s association with the people of the area goes back many years and he has been given the local name of Nderekeyia and is an elder of the Lebantera community. This association and the fact that all of the support staff are local means that while the group is in this area they effectively become part of the family and will be afforded the same rights and protection as would be given to any member of the tribe.

The group will be staying close to the village of Lebantera and a camp that has been set up exclusively for Willett’s use with sweeping views south across the Siana Plains and north to the town of Ngoswani and the Loita Hills – the perfect place in which to relax and mix with the people from the village. This is a totally wild camp with animals often passing through. The hills around the camp are home to elephant and buffalo as well as lion, leopard and hyena.

Under the supervision of chief guide Moses Letoluo, with whom John has worked closely for many years, the group will take part in a number of activities that include bush walks with the guides imparting some of their bushcraft skills along the way as well as pointing out some of the local wildlife that is likely to include zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and a number of different antelope species. They will also stop to explain how many of the local plants are used for a wide range of herbal medicines and more practical purposes such as toilet paper and toothbrushes.

A full day at Lebantera will allow the group plenty of time to enjoy their surroundings with a visit to a local school and the chance to take part in warrior training, a bit like dodgeball only using a particular plant rather than a ball.

After warrior training the group will be guests of the village and be welcomed by the women singing and performing traditional dances. This will be followed by a tour of the village and the houses, built entirely from local materials by the women. At this time of day the cattle, sheep and goat herds are brought into the village to keep them safe from nocturnal predators such as lion and leopard. Those who fancy it will be able to try their hands at milking a goat, something that few people manage successfully at their first attempt, much to the amusement of the local people.

As dusk is falling the village will slaughter and barbecue a sheep in honour of their guests and there will be more singing and dancing. It will also be the perfect occasion for people to talk to the women and children of the village and learn more about their ancient way of life.