Maasai and Mount Makarot

One of the unique experiences of our trip was hiking over Mount Makarot and into the Serengeti plains where we stayed at the Olduvai Camp run by Maasai.

We started at a fly camp where we spent the night just outside the Ngorongoro Crater. The next morning we got an early start and followed our Maasai guides to the false summit and then on to the summit. We also had an armed ranger with us for protection. The area is known to have buffalo which it turns out buffalo are one of the most dangerous animals that you can come across in the bush. They are big, mean looking and charge easily. Our guides warned us that if we came across them, we should either climb a tree, or lay down and play dead.

Just before we reached the summit, we came across a few buffalo. The ranger too aim and the guides took position along our flank with spears ready. We backed away (toward a tree conveniently by the path) squatted down and waited. The buffalo started to head down toward us and stopped. We continued to wait. Finally, the turned, went along the ridge and on their way.

From the top of Makarot, we had spectacular views of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. After taking it in, we started down the mountain and through the Maasai villages. There were no roads here. No tourists streaming through. We were experiencing the real Africa. We stopped at one of the villages and met the locals. Not speaking Maasai, we weren’t able to communicate much, but our guides provided some basic translation. K bought a bracelet and had her picture taken with the girl that made it.

The decent was much worse than the climb in many ways. It was rocky and was punishing on the knees. Some parts of the trail were covered in “African snow” — a fine dirt the collected and blew like snow drifts. One of the guides was excellent in helping my mom through some of the tough spots on the way down.

Just before we reached the bottom, we ran across a few giraffes about 100 yards in front of us. They sat and watched us for a while as I quickly grabbed the camera. We saw giraffes fairly close from the vehicle, but it was a completely different experience being on foot. After a bit, they decided to run and I got a good video. I don’t see it in our gallery at the moment, but I’ll track it down and post it. It is interesting to watch them run.

Finally, we made it to Olduvai camp. They greeted us with drinks and we all sat in the lounge slumped in the chairs cheering our successes complaining about our aches. We also learned from our guides that my parents are the oldest people they have taken over the mountain. I think the guides were a bit nervous that my parents wouldn’t make it, but they made a good showing and impressed them all. Certainly a great achievement.

From the fly camp near the mountain, it didn’t look that big. But looking back from Olduvai we were all amazed that we just climbed over that mountain. It was a fantastic day.

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