Maasai Cultural Visit : Meet The Maasai In The Serengeti : Meet your hosts, the Maasai people: These are remote areas that have been inhabited for a very long time. There are many local residents in the Serengeti region, with the Maasai being the most well-known. The Maasai largely coexist with nature, albeit occasionally in conflict. When visiting the region on your Serengeti safari, you must pay your hosts a visit.
Without meeting the charming Maasai, a trip to the Serengeti wouldn’t be complete. You will be completely immersed in the fascinating history of these noble people during this wonderful cultural excursion. You will have the chance to meet a Maasai family, explore a traditional boma, see the village huts (called Manyatta), which are constructed of cow dung and clay plastered over stick frames, and perhaps visit a nearby clinic or school while on your tour of a Maasai village. If you want to turn your half-day excursion into a full-day of exploration, you can observe a bloodletting ceremony or spend an authentically Maasai day in the life of a young person. The fact that the Maasai live in the middle of the bush, with warthogs foraging and elephants trumpeting just outside their borders, is an extraordinary reality.
These fearsome warriors—the most well-known inhabitants of Africa—continue to live according to their ancestral customs and are renowned for their pastoral traditions, subsisting on herds of cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. Since the beginning of time, the Maasai have been wandering in search of pasture and water for their herds. Many Maasai no longer roam because they have built permanent communities. Although they still survive on a diet of milk, blood, and meat, adding grain to their diet is becoming very common. The few Maasai who are still alive today coexist with the abundant wildlife.
PEOPLE OF THE SERENGETI
There are numerous native tribes living in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. The Kuria people are found in Kenya, all the way down to Mugumu in southern Tanzania, along the Tanzanian side of the national park. The Kuria tribe is replaced further south by the Ikoma tribe, which resides west of Lake Victoria and close to the Western Corridor boundary. The Sukuma people, a huge group living on lands south of the southwest border of Serengeti National Park, pass the Ikoma people in a line that passes through Ndabaka at the tip of the Western Corridor. These people are agro-pastoralists who keep livestock and small holdings. The Maasai are the most well-known local group.
The Loita Hills, historic Maasai territory in Kenya, are to the north of the Masai Mara National Reserve, where ranching and mechanized farming are now practiced. From Kenya’s Narok district south through the Loliondo region, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the southern edge of the Serengeti plains where they meet the Sukuma, the traditional pastoralist Maasai live in the eastern side of the ecosystem. The Maasai pastoralists spread into the Simanjiro plains across the Rift Valley, all the way up to Dodoma, in the southeast. A large portion of the Maasai population is eschewing their traditional pastoralist lifestyle in favor of creating small-scale agricultural settlements.
The Maasai once lived in a large portion of the region now protected by Serengeti National Park. The Maasai grazed their cattle on the eastern plains, but their presence in the west was more sporadic due to the seasonal abundance of tsetse flies, which carry a parasite that causes a disease that can be fatal to cows. The Maasai are relatively recent settlers in the area; they moved there from the north in the 17th century, driving out their Datoga forebears. The Maa word “serenget,” which means “endless plain,” is the source of the name Serengeti, which more accurately refers to the short-grass plains of the southeast than the entire park.