My African safari experience took me to three of the best national parks in Tanzania, including staying overnight in the totally ace Osupuko Lodge in Tarangire National Park. Our tour was expertly organised by Shadows of Africa – the best safari company on the continent and after a day of game driving in Tarangire National Park, we met a Maasai Tribe at our base for the night.
The Maasai tribe members come over and greet us on arrival at Osupuko Lodge. For a jungle based lodge, this is an exquisite one. It has been set up by local entrepreneur Henry who saw a gap in the market for luxury lodges in the area at affordable prices with local culture thrown into the mix. For a safari lodge in Africa, it’s exactly what you wanted.
We check into our awesome room, I’m rooming with Raymond from Man on the Lam. There are even hot showers and a mosquito net here, plus a socket to charge my camera. From our lodge room we can see elephants in the distance on the edge of Tarangire National Park. After showering and relaxing, there is no time for a break as we are told to meet at 7.30 pm by the pool for a Maasai welcome.
It’s more than just a welcome. It’s a performance. The famous Maasai tribe are based in parts of Kenya and Tanzania and they pride themselves in their expert dancing and singing performance.
My travel buddy Annette White (who writes the blog Bucket List Journey) is the first non-Maasai member up to join the tribe in the dancing. Then a few other travellers join in and soon I’m in the mix as well.
I get draped with a gown and get given a stick. The guys in the Maasai tribe all have these. The guys stay on the right and the girls stay on the left. The girls don’t have a stick, instead an elaborate necklace.
Annette joins in the fun, dancing away with the Maasai ladies. When unsure what to do, just imitate those in the know. And that’s what we do. I jump up like the Maasai lads, I bounce my head, sway and stagger and try to understand the singing.
It’s a pretty cool performance by the lads and lasses, and it’s genuine. While you might feel this type of thing is put on for tourists, I assure you it’s not – the Maasai really do these dances and welcomes to their guests. It has been their way of life for generations.
The entire performance lasts about half an hour. After which we walk with the Maasai tribe in a march style ritual before dispersing into the night and being left to our own devices. We have been cordially invited to dinner, and a message awaits us.
It’s Friday the 2nd August 2013 and we are given a piece of paper which reads “Three beautiful and Joival friends on Safari”, referring to Annette, Raymond and myself. I’m listed as the “Simba dume Mr. Jonny”, one of lioness Annette White’s Irish and Canadian friends, the other is Raymond of course who hails from Newfoundland.
A feast lies in store though for once I eat the soup only and choose a cup of tea as my stomach has been playing up. Raymond, Annette and our driver Timo have the proper meal, a mean course of grilled pork. Sun has set long ago and the sounds in the distance are of animals. We’re out in the wild here as we head for an early night. The next morning will be another early start as we are headed for the amazing Serengeti National Park. This was one hell of a journey.
Here are my videos from the Maasai Tribe dance and the Osupuko Lodge: