Saturday, 5 January 2019

Hunting With Lions

Today we allowed the children the luxury of an 0800 start in order to visit one of the local Maasai villages before catching up with our lion friends.

We weren’t sure what to expect from the village visit. The cynical side of us, tainted by trip reports from others elsewhere, suggested that the villages would be a similar experience to Victoria Falls… throngs of tourists and a chance for the locals to leave their regular homes to don the traditional attire for an hour and grab some cash. Fortunately, it wasn’t like that at all. There is actually a lovely relationship between the resort, the government and the local tribes whereby they all help each other. It is completely genuine, traditional and was so wonderful to see.

The local resort strictly rotates through the local villages to prevent any kick backs to the guides. The funds from the tours go towards water wells, sewerage systems and education. In turn, local chiefs opening their villages to the resorts makes it more attractive for tourists to stay there. We were the only outsiders at the village and were welcomed by the chief’s son. We were given a tour of the village, informed of the history of the people and invited to join in a jumping competition. Apparently, this has now replaced the previous coming of age ritual of the lion hunt (using a spear). Their fire making demonstration was impressive…from nothing to flame in 2 minutes flat! We purchased some goods and were torn between our Asian instincts to bargain hard and our desire to help a community trying to hang on to their traditions in a changing, shrinking world. I’m sure that they did very well out of us, but we received some lovely items and at no stage did they crowd, pressure or hassle us. We felt very privileged to be invited into their world and daily lives.

Ah...breakfast when the sun has come out!

Trying out the maasai elephant pepper toothbrush

2 simple tools used to create fire in 2 minutes flat

Malcolm invited to jump with the males

The village ladies
The men

The "sitting room" in one of the houses

Short doorways for tall people

Hard Rock Maasai Village (the actual name of the village!)

After the village tour we jumped back into the 4WDs to meet up with our lion buddies from yesterday. They were still unfed and were in almost the same location – this time stalking two topi. After over an hour of waiting (made much more pleasant by an outdoor lunch of salad, chicken, noodles and brownies) they were making good progress. Unfortunately, their position was given away by the over-enthusiastic lion cubs following behind. The topi bolted, and it was over without a chase.

Our simple but delicious lunch

We took a break and then searched for the cubs again. We found them under a tree with a baboon in it. You’d think that nine lions could deal with one baboon, but no! The baboon, as predicted by Massek, began pooping all over the place and threw it at the lions. This scared all the lions off so the baboon could run away into the forest! The cubs finally returned and looked down a hill into some long grass which must surely contain the adults. Not far beyond the grass could be found zebra, warthogs and antelope. The lions would have to walk around our vehicles as they stalked their prey! And suddenly the chase was on and chaos ensued. There were lions and animals running everywhere and the lionesses finally set their target on a baby zebra. Mother and baby zebra ran past the gate of the national parks pursued by lions which cause panicked humans to rush into the buildings. One of the lionesses gave chase for quite some time with the baby zebra stumbling at one stage. We didn’t know who to cheer for! After a while the lion stopped, exhausted. She was so close!

The lion cubs that was chased off by a single pooping baboon...
That's how close the lion was to getting its prey!

The Mara River

We too, were exhausted after all the action. We headed back to the lodge for our pre-dinner massage which included a full body scrub. It was a most relaxing hour and a half and much needed! The &Beyond team had another little surprise in store for us with a lovely private dinner setting in the upstairs lounge. Rather than having to go to the buffet ourselves, the waitstaff got it for us. One could not be more spoiled…

Beautifully lit stairs leading to...

...this! Just us dining!

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