Monday, May 31

Paula: The morning brought more rain, and although it made our camping experience a bit more challenging Nassibu assured us that the rain and cloud cover would result in our hike today becoming more pleasant. As it turned out, the rain stopped just before we began hiking while light cloud cover protected us from the sun's intense rays until noontime.

The trail from the Acacia Forest to Lake Natron was beautiful but also required sturdy feet as most of the hike was downhill. Initially, we walked along the ridge and enjoyed the green hills covered in grasses. The Maasia bring cattle to graze here but there are no settlements because the hills are too steep and lack an adequate water supply.

We watched as one Maasi warrior passed us on the trail (he's pictured on the right). Justin explained that he was a messenger and had been asked by an elder in the village of Naiyobi to take a message to Lake Natron. This is the only method of communication available to the Maasai. The journey is about eight hours walking each way, but warriors must always be prepared to fulfill requests made by elders without any objection.

After walking about an hour we began a steady descent on volcanic rock and dust. The trail was slippery and required us to go "pole, pole" (which means slowly in Swahili). As we approached Lake Natron, we crossed through several gullies. In one of the gullies we found several Maasi women digging in the sand to get to fresh water. We have learned that the Maasai women do most of the work in their households. They are responsible for maintaining the home, milking the cows and caring for children. They actually build the homes and also make the beaded jewelry worn by both men and women. Clothing is simple and the women sometimes spend money made from selling crafts on colorful pieces of cloth that they drape around them and over their shoulders. Only recently have girls been required to attend the initial seven years of school, so there appear to be disproportionately fewer educated women.

After three hours of hiking, we reached Nassibu's Land Rover which had been delivered to a meeting place so that we could drive the rest of the way to the camp. We were thankful for the ride - our eight miles today on top of our hiking from the past several days had made our legs tired and sore.

We relaxed at the camp and took much-needed showers before heading out in the late afternoon to explore Lake Natron. The salty lake is very large and lined with flocks of beautiful flamingos. Big rocks in the lake are used by the flamingos for nesting, and there are a large number of these bright pink birds on Lake Natron. Other wildlife including zebra, giraffes, gazelles and ostrich are also in the area, but we were only able to see them today from a distance.

We continue to enjoy learning about the Maasi culture and have found them friendly and outgoing. Several of the staff members helping us at each camp have been Maasai, and we have found them to be eager to speak with us and to play games with David and Katie. We have noticed that they all appear happy and seem to have few worries.

Tomorrow we plan to hike through a gorge to view a nearby waterfall in the morning and then visit another Maasi village in the afternoon.

Animals seen today:


New birds seen today:

Yellow Neck Spur Fowl












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