One of Willetts Safaris’ Maasai Guides has his home in the traditional village of Labantera, near Ngoswani about half way between between Narok and the Maasai Mara Reserve, on the edge of the Loita Hills and the Siana Plains. For most people the village is something they might see in the distance as they race through on their way to the Mara from Nairobi but most barely notice they are passing through a vast and unspoilt landscape where the local people co-exist with the region’s abundant wildlife. 

We regularly camp in this area when taking people on walking safaris and it always proves very popular. The village has allowed us to set up an exclusive campsite, called Ilparakuo (nomads) on the hilly slopes close by and there are stunning views over the surrounding plains that are home to a rich and diverse range of wildlife. From the campsite it is normally possible to watch giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and a variety of antelope grazing past. The surrounding area is home to a healthy elephant population that feeds in the surrounding hills. At night lion, leopard and hyena can often be heard close to the camp.

Bushwalks
The group will be taken on bushwalks in the surrounding area to see some of the local wildlife and learn about some of the plants that the Maasai use for utilitarian and medicinal purposes in their day-to-day life. Our guides have in-depth knowledge of these plants and herbal medicines and will point out many that are used to make fire sticks, toothbrushes, treat stomach upsets, malaria, etc.

Nursery School
The nearest nursery school to Labantera village is some miles away which means that even for the Maasai it is too far for the little children to get to school, so they receive no formal education until they are big enough to make the 5 km journey to and from the primary school at Ngoswani. The group will run a nursery for these children teaching basic numeracy and literacy skills to the children of the area.  We are hoping that the group will also be able to help with the early stages of building the new Nursery School that Ponteland High School is raising money for.

Nagio for the Day
The Maa word for woman is nagio and in traditional tribal life it is the women who do the majority of the physical work. They look after the children, build the houses, fetch water and firewood, milk the herds, etc. Some of the group may be able to shadow the women as they go about their daily routine.

Market Day
Once a week Ngoswani holds one of the biggest cattle markets in this part of Maasailand. If the stay coincides with this, the group will be able to walk into town to experience it all. Men drive their herds for days through the bush from as far away as Tanzania to get there and the day is full of noise and colour with men discussing business and women visiting the market to buy and sell their wares.

Village Visit
On the last evening at Labantera the group will visit the village and be welcomed by the women performing traditional songs and dances and encouraged to join in with. 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 in to keep them safe from nocturnal predators and those who fancy it will be able to try their hand at milking.

Later the men will slaughter and barbecue a sheep which will be shared amongst the group and the people of the village after which everyone will join in with more singing and dancing. People who visit Labantera with Willetts often find this evening in the village to be one of the highlights of their trip to East Africa.