Maasai Backcountry Trek

Traveling through the lush savannah grasslands of Maasai, Kenya, will leave you in amusement and aspiration for more. This is my experience of a short trek into the Maasai backcountry. The Maasai are those who give Kenya its culture regardless of the long colonial de-culturalization. The Maasai have unique colorful sheets and costumes as well as typical African handicrafts, all of which are culturally handmade.

Early in the morning on the 27th of June 2021, we took a Bolt ride from our home at Kileleshiwa, Nairobi to Ngong Town. After waiting for a little at the Ngong town bust terminal for other hikers, we started our trekking west of Ngong Town, leaving the beautiful landscapes of the seven hills of Ngong Hills south to our left. We were seven including the guide. He was a photographer as well.

Relaxed trek up through the Kenya Institute of Highways and Building up to the shallow steeps to Kibiko, we enjoyed the lush agricultural villages of the famous Maasai tribes. You can see them proudly wearing their beautiful costumes, with the men having bores on their ears.

When traveling through these beautiful bushes of Maasai land, one should take care of the thorny acacia trees. These trees are called Whistling Acacia Trees. Called so because they whistle when the wind blows over the holes made by wasp larvae. They have swollen buds where thorns are grown. One should carefully pass through to avoid harm.

After traveling for some 7 kilometers, we reached the bordering land between two counties: Kiambu County and Kajiado County. We were able to notice a little difference in the land between the two. The Kiambu side was more greenery than the Kajiado (Maasai land). Our guide briefed us on why it was so. According to him, it was because the Maasai lives on agriculture and animal breeding. They have to cultivate the land for yearly crop production and the rest is grazed by the animals. Kajiado Country (Maasai Land) on the left; Kiambu Country on the right.

The lush land through Olooshoibor took us to a small cave of Nachu Caves Kikuyu, which serves as a traditional Prayer place for the locals. You can see ashes and charcoals in the middle of the cave. It is located on half a steep slope. The land serves as a grazing land and quarry site for the many constructions in and around Nairobi, including the new railroad under construction that passes through this place.

On climbing up the hill where the cave is located and proceeding into the bushlands ahead, we found Kimuka Tunnel, one end of the several tunnels of the railroad that goes to Naivasha, a vacation town 101km northwest of Nairobi. A bit into our trip enabled us to join the main road that goes to Naivasha through Gicheru mines, Nderu, Ewaso Kendong, Mai Mahiu constituting the old Naivasha road.

Following this road, we traveled back to Ngong Town through Kimuka. The total start-to-end length of the trek was 35km. As the sun was getting down on us hunting us very closely, we couldn’t finish the trek on foot. After trekking for 26km, we asked for a lift from vehicles coming back from the Naivasha side. A kind driver gave a lift for three of us and the rest members of the group decided to trek back on foot.

Walking across the Maasai land alongside their cattle, goats, and sheep gives you an immense sense of pleasure of being yourself. The sounds of the animals along with the sound of bells tied in their necks keep your ears busy with nostalgias back from your childhood. I asked on goat herder whey they put bells on necks of some of the animals. He told me, they usually put it on the leader of the crew (sometimes on two or more), so that the rest will easily follow it. It also helps for the herder to know where they exactly are, usually in dense grasslands and shrubs. Their land is usually covered with grasses and shrubs. Joshua, our guide confirmed this for me as well. As a cowboy in the old days back in my homeland, we also do the same thing with our domestic animals, usually if they are large in number.

I was also surprised to see the Maasai sheep docked, have their tails completely cut from its base. I was really taken by what the reason could be. I asked my friends and told me that cutting the tail of the sheep makes access for the male too easy during mating. That’s was an impressive answer as removing the tail leaves the sheep vagina opened up. But I noticed the tails of the ram (male sheep) were also cut. I enquired our guide for an answer. He told me, much of the feed a sheep eats goes to the tail.

The sheep’s trail is complete of fat, as we know it. So removing this will help distribute the fattening along with all the sheep’s bodies. Docking is a common practice among sheep fattening societies throughout the globe with traditional origin dating back centuries to such remote societies. It’s also done on pigs, dogs, horses, cattle, and other animals. They use a knife or a docking iron to remove it.

The Maasai are those who give Kenya its culture regardless of the long colonial de-culturalization. The Maasai have unique colorful sheets and costumes as well as typical African handicrafts, all of which are culturally handmade.

The largest wildlife seasonal migration happens around the Maasai-Mara area. It told that more than one million transboundary wildlife migrates seasonally here.

This was my third travel out of Nairobi. The hospitality of Kenyans, their love for nature, the beautiful scenery, the way they treat you, have made me fall in love with them and I aim to explore more of Kenya.

You can read more about my other travel experiences.