“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths”. – Walt Disney
Two days after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I had one of the most stunning travel experiences of my life. I visited a Maasai village and stayed overnight. It was not the typical tourist trap where you pay a ton of money to see the Maasai but instead a true Maasai village where the Maasai continue to practice their traditional culture that has remained relatively unchanged for centuries.
I had done a fair amount of research to find the right Maasai village to visit because I didn’t want to go to a place that was culturally insensitive and filled with tourists. Instead, I wanted a real, authentic experience and cultural immersion. Thankfully I found the perfect place for my visit, The Mkuru Training Camp in Uwiro Village, about a three-hour drive away from Moshi. The Mkuru Training Camp is located at the foothills of Mount Meru, just outside Arusha National Park, within one of the most important biodiversity areas of Tanzania: the Maasai Steppe.
The camp is run by Isituto Oikos, an Italian NGO (non-governmental organization) founded in 1996 that works in Europe and in developing countries to promote environmental conservation as a tool of socio-economic development. They have been working with the Maasai people at the Mkuru Training Camp to assist in conserving their culture and way of life. For a small fee, they offer select tourists and journalists the ability to spend a night or two at the camp and immerse themselves in the local Maasai culture. I would be the only guest for the night.
I was picked up early Sunday morning at my hotel in Moshi by Camilla, an Italian volunteer staying at the camp and Jacobo, the camp manager who is Maasai and was born and raised in the community. I limped over to get in the car, happy that I was finished hiking and could finally just sit for a few hours. Both Camilla and Jacobo were exceptionally warm and friendly, and we had a wonderful time chatting during our three-hour bumpy ride to the camp.
Jacobo gives me a beaming smile as he greets me at the hotel.