While going on safari is the main reason to come to the Masai Mara, there is more to do than game drives. The Maasai guides at the Sarova Mara offer nature walks – short one-hour walks in the forest within the Sarova Mara, and longer walking safaris in the reserve.
As we had signed up for four game drives around the reserve, we decided to stretch our legs closer to home on a short nature walk with Denies Ole Mekuaya, one of the Sarova Mara’s charismatic Maasai guides.
Our brisk walk took us through jungle-like vegetation, through the kitchen garden, along a narrow path scarily close to the electric fence that keeps the animals away from the accommodation, and through the thick of the forest again. Apart from a couple of leaps over ditches and balancing acts across logs over creek beds, it was a fairly easy and enjoyable walk.
Along the way, Denies introduced us to the Maasai warrior’s costume, explaining why they adopted red (to frighten away animals), and identified his accessories – his club (oringa), spear (eremet), and knife (olalem) – and how they’re used. He also taught us some of the Maasai and Swahili language in the process.
Denies pointed out plenty of birds and plants and explained how the Maasai use the plants for ceremonial and healing practices, from bamboo, which is used to decorate village doors to celebrate the naming of a child or announce a circumcision to cotton leaf, which is thought to prevent malaria and is used as a mosquito repellent, and for everyday uses and entertainment, from African greenheart, used as toothpaste, to acacia, which is fermented to make a local beer.
We also learned how the Maasai only eat beef and drink the milk and the blood of the cow – even now – and throughout the walk we played a little game of guess-the-skull, where we had to identify skulls of the animals we’d seen in the park that were at various spots along the route.
It must be said that Denies is a real character with a unique sense of humour and a large part of the appeal of the nature walk is the opportunity to spend some time traipsing around the bush with him. We recommend it if you’ve been sitting in vehicle for a few days and want some exercise. And besides, how many opportunities do you get to do a brisk walk Masai Mara with a Maasai warrior?