Day 3 at Alamana – Maasai and bush walks

We started our third day at Alamana with Maasai culture — a visit to a Maasia boma and a primary school for Maasai.  We stopped for lunch under an acacia tree and a bush walk back to camp.

al fresco lunch
al fresco lunch

In the evening there was another bush walk, where we saw hyena dung.  Hyena dung is white because of the bones that hyenas eat.  High in calcium, other animals eat hyena dung to build strong bones quickly.

hyena dung
hyena dung

At the end of the bush walk we hiking up a high kopje, just in time to see our last sunset in Alamana.  The fire and champagne were a nice surprise!  Thank you, Joan, for the photo. The acacia trees are far below the kopje.

Alamana sunset
Alamana sunset

Day 2 at Alamana – in search of the klipspringer

We started the day with an game drive to find the elusive klipspringer, a mammal that lives on kopjes.  In another post, we saw a spotted hyena and a baby gazelle.  In the photo below, a male giraffe tastes the female giraffe’s urine to detect estrus. Note the baby giraffe with the darker spots.

male giraffe sniffing female
male giraffe sniffing female

We enjoyed a hippo pool.  We saw a martial eagle and the klipspringer.

martial eagle
martial eagle
klipspringers
klipspringers

Klipspringers are very shy, and they usually ran when we drove by.  They have pads on their feet, to better grip the granite kopje. We saw Maasai herding cattle and getting water.

Maasai herding cattle
Maasai herding cattle
Maasai women getting water
Maasai women getting water

In the evening we saw a Maasai ceremony.

Maasai ceremony

After the game drive to the hippo pool, our guides told us that the local Maasai were holding a ceremony that evening. The camp asked the Maasai if our safari members could attend, including women. The Maasai ceremony is normally for males only. That evening we were told that we could attend!

We drove to a distant kopje and were led into a broad cave formed by a granite overhang. The top and back of the cave are blackened by many fires. The cave is surrounded by thorny branches, with a large thorny branch for the door.

Maasai ceremonial cave
Maasai ceremonial cave

Four Maasai adults greeted us. John spoke, and our guide Felix translated.  John is dressed in blue, and Felix is in green. John is a Maasai elder and a camp employee. Lucas, who guarded us on bush walks, is the second Maasai from the right. Here’s what I recall, but there are probably errors and gaps in my understanding.

Felix explaining the Maasai ceremony
Felix explaining the Maasai ceremony

In the Maasai culture, males pass through several levels as they progress from boy to elder. Training is required to progress to the next level. The Maasai hold the training in this cave. A ceremony marks successful passage to the next level.

Boys are being trained to go to the next level, which I believe is morani or warrior. The boys were here in the afternoon, but they aren’t here now. Boys pay goats as tuition for the training. One goat for every two days of training.

The Maasai roasted a goat for us.

roast goat and red soup
roast goat and red soup

The Maasai eat communally, with each person sharing each cut of meat. They start by offering honored guests the best part — the liver. They invited every one to take part, telling us we could pass.

John cutting a goat leg for us
John cutting a goat leg for us

I wanted to try the goat, but I don’t like liver, eating it only when there’s nothing else and then smothering it in ketchup.  I took a piece of liver and managed to eat it in several bits, hopefully with a smile on my face.  After the liver, they served a foreleg, a hindleg, and ribs.  The rest of the goat was very good!

They prepared a red soup. If they explained what was in the soup, I missed it.  Then they served the soup.  I had read that the Maasai diet consists primarily of blood and milk, with meat for special occasions.

making the red soup
making the red soup
straining the soup
straining the soup

I took a cup of soup.  It was watery and a little bitter. Hopefully the red is from tree bark and not blood.

The outing was a surprise cultural treat!

At the hippo pool

On our morning game drive, the trucks stopped at a kopje  We walked around the kopje to a hippo pool!  A very nice surprise.

There’s a granite bank that’s too steep for hippos to climb out, so we stood a few feet from the hippo pool.  There wasn’t much water, so hippos were crowded into a small pool.  They occasionally surface to breathe and look around.

Betty by the hippo pool
Betty by the hippo pool
2 hippos
2 hippos

Hippos defecate in the water, so there’s lot of brown grass floating on the water.

hippo looking at us
hippo looking at us

I hiked up the kopje for coffee and cookies. Felix, one of our tour guides, sits on the left with his rifle. The darker area in the background below is the surface of the hippo pool. You can see a bit of green water to the right of Felix’s cap. That’s the edge of the pool.

down by the hippo pool
down by the hippo pool

Suddenly, there were was splashing in the water.

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Our guide told us that two male hippos were fighting.  One hippo came up under  the second hippo, turning him over. In one photo Felix has stood up, and Karen is taking a picture. Later we learned that Felix had killed a hippo while guiding some hunters several years ago. He now guides folks who shoot pictures.

Bush walks

The Alamana camp is located on Maasai lands outside Serengeti National Park.  We may use open vehicles, go on bush walks, drive off-road, and do night game drives.  These activities are not permitted within the National Park.

The first morning we climbed into open vehicles to drive to a bush walk.  Lucas, a Maasai camp employee, is standing in front.  The open vehicle with three levels of seats facilitates game viewing and photography.

Alamana open truck with Lucas standing in front
Alamana open truck with Lucas standing in front

We did a game drive to a dry stream bed, where we did a bush walk. Noeli, a camp guide, led the the group and carried a loaded 416 caliber rifle. Lucas brought up the rear and carried a spear, the traditional Maasai weapon. We stayed close to Noeli, who carried the gun. He has used the rifle on bush walks, killing a charging hippo with a single shot from his bolt action rifle. No one asked if he would have had time for a second shot in case the first one only wounded the hippo. Remember, hippos kill more people than any other animal.

staying close to the guy with the rifle
staying close to the guy with the rifle

Noeli showed us a whistling thorn acacia, which has a symbiotic relationship with ants. Some thorns have a bulbous base where ants live, entering and exiting through a hole. Wind causes some acacia bulbs to whistle as the wind passes the hole. If the acacia is disturbed, the ants crawl out and bite the animal eating the acacia. Although this acacia has long thorns, evidently the thorns aren’t enough to protect it against herbivores!

whistling thorn acacia
whistling thorn acacia

Noeli cut open a bulb.  Ants crawled out of the bulb and are biting his hand as he holds the bulb for this picture.  Noeli is one tough dude.

whistling thron acacia and biting ants
whistling thorn acacia and biting ants

Here’s a leopard tortoise, which has spots like a leopard.

leopard tortoise
leopard tortoise

To our surprise, Lucas pulled all this from his backpack, so we enjoyed coffee and cookies in the shade.

coffee on the bush walk
coffee on the bush walk

Driving back to camp we saw a male impala and his harem.

male impala
male impala
female impalas
female impalas

Near the camp, we saw one of the three Maasai camp guards.  Each guard is stationed on a kopje, a granite outcropping.

kopje with Maasai guard
kopje with Maasai guard

We did an evening bush walk after a much-needed siesta, .  A troop of baboons watched us from a kopje.  Baboons are a favorite food of leopards, so baboons stay vigilant.

baboon on kopje
baboon on kopje

We did a night game drive after dinner, but we didn’t see much. Day 1 in Alamana.