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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Full Focus on the Butt

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Today was the day!

Day #1 of my Nomad tour through Kenya and Uganda.

I was on my way to the Gorillas…

*insert happy face and undeniable euphoria…

The entire crew met at a hotel that was approximately 6 minutes walk from my “hotel.” I had originally set my alarm to wake up early and get some writing done, but instead, I slept in.  I slept too late so it was go time when I finally opened my eyes and saw the time… panic took over!

Go time!

I shouldn’t have rushed as much as I did though, as everyone was just hanging around, looking quite disorientated when I arrived. It seemed like a good crew. No bad vibes.

I was a little shocked to see the Nomad truck when I walked through the hotel gates. My African adventure in 2019/20 had been with Nomad, but this time I had booked through African Overland Adventures.  Foiled by a booking agent. It was actually a bit of a comfort, like seeing a familiar friend.

After a short introduction and a little bit of paperwork, we were divided into three groups and subsequently three separate safari jeeps. The main Nomad truck was set to pick us up at a later date, but for now, we were headed for a few days in the Maasai Mara.

In my jeep were;

Three American girls, Adrian, Melissa and Nicole.

Two Germans - mother and daughter team, Joyce and Petra. I actually didn’t clue into their relationship until the following day. I thought they were best friends… or lesbians.f

Takes me a while to catch on sometimes.

In addition to our vehicle, in our crew were;

Hayley and Shawn - New Zealand.

These two share an important milestone with me. I celebrated my 50th on the same day they got married.

Tony and Lisa -  Australia.

Bernadette - Netherlands.

Angela - Netherlands.

Preya - Edmonton, Canada.

Lisa and Sam - USA.

These two were retired nomads and in their 8th year of traveling the world. Sam, as he had twisted his ankle getting down from the truck a few days prior.

Karen and Stan - USA.

Stan was a bit of a curmudgeon… always had a complaint or question.

Phillip - Belgium.

… and me.

Lisa & Sam, Karen & Stan and Phillip were set to leave us before we ventured into Uganda, as they had done the previous tour through Tanzania.

Once we left Nairobi, we headed southeast and along the spectacular edge of the Great Rift.  We did stop to take in the stunning landscape and the breathtaking views, but my iPhone 11 photos do not do it justice.

Then… it seemed like we drove forever.

The roads fluctuated between decent paving, dirt trails and backcountry inpassable. We ended up on 50kms of one of the bumpiest roads I’ve ever travelled… but eventually ended up at our accommodation.

Once we were all set up in our semi-permanent tent accommodation, we walked up the hill to a local Maasai village. Back in Arusha, I had been given the opportunity to visit a Maasai village, but I had declined.  At $80US per person, it was a little (lot) out of my financial comfort zone, but on this tour, it was included in the package.

Upon arrival, the Maasai men did a welcome dance for us, parading around the main field and stepping forward to show up how they could jump.  I guess the higher you can jump, the less you pay in dowry for a wife. After the welcome ceremony, they proceeded to show us around their… space? village? living quarters?

People keep using the word ‘village’… but this was more like a commune. Essentially, it was a family living in a field with a few mud huts and some farm animals. The head of the family had 11 wives, and everyone else was the direct result of that procreation.

As I’d been previously warned from others that had visited the Maasai, there was no talk of female genital mutation or rape…

They did give us a bit of insight into male circumcision,… and how the boys are expected to not flinch or show any pain at all.

Hmmm… seems quite cruel.

Apparently when the boys become of age, they are sent off to survive on their own for six years.  This raised some questions. Where do they go? With the fear of heat exhaustion, the threat of wild animals… good on them if they can do it, but once again… seems a bit cruel.

The Maasai don’t drink water… AND they don’t eat vegetables.

Ok.. this is their diet… and not one word of a lie.

Blood. Milk. Meat. Maize (corn).

Sometimes, if they’re getting crazy, they mix the blood with the milk.

I can’t make this shit up.

Guess it goes to show that green vegetables are highly over rated.

I don’t think I’d trade them for a blood diet though.

Adrian and I were paired off to visit one of the family huts. A very tall Maasai, with a greying goatee, led us inside and through a thick cloud of black flies.  The huts were made of a mixture cow dung and mud and completely designed & built by the wives of the tribe. Apparently they were all identical, but as I only visited the one, I can’t speak for the others.  Thought the entrance, you could see a small cubicle, meant to hold baby animals during the night.  A narrow hallway led into the main living space, which was a combination of living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom.  It couldn’t have been bigger than 6 square metres. One each side were doors leading to a room for the children and one for the guests.  I couldn’t help but wonder what guests came to visit?

I couldn’t do it.

Too many flies.

I would have run screaming.

I’ve seen a lot of flies in my flies, but nothing has dared to come close to the swarm at the Maasai huts.There we were, sitting in that dark little space, swarms of flies were all over my face and body. I was desperately trying to be polite, while continuously slapping my body. The Maasai didn’t even seem to mind the incessant irritation.  The wife lay on the bed, nursing her 4 week old baby…seeming absolutely oblivious to the irritation.

Like all the other African tribes I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, no visit would be complete without the pressure of buying assorted trinkets. I really didn’t need a warthog tooth necklace, nor did I need a beaded mask, so I politely declined… about 69 times… and made my way out of the area.

From there, we all got back into the safari jeeps and headed into the Maasai Mara for a couple hours of wildlife viewing.

The day had a bit of a butt theme.

~ The butts of the baboons.

Bright red and bulging. To clarify, the swollen red bottom happens only on female baboons. It's a sign that they're ready to mate.

~ The butts of the zebra.

Intriguing with their white & black patterns. The study of zebra behaviour starts with staring at their butts. Like a fingerprint, each zebra has unique markings on it's butt.

~ The butts of the impala.

Known as the “McDonald's” of the bush for its black & white “M-shaped” markings on the bum. Essentially... they are fast food.

~ The butt of the topi - otherwise known as the Savannah Cowboy.

Looks surprisingly like a toilet seat on their ass and chaps at their sides.

~ The butt of giraffes.

Unique, like the zebra, but did you know that giraffes use their butts as pillows?

I can’t remember the other ones, but everything had an interesting butt-reference.

I know they say that it doesn’t get old… but… it does… a bit. It can anyway. Lots of zebras. Lots of wildebeest. Lots of buffalo. Lots of impala. Lots of caribou.

This is Safari location #6 for me!


I could become a guide…

James was our tour guide and we all appreciated his humour and dedication to finding us exactly what we wanted to see. If he heard whisper of any interesting wildlife, he was petal to the metal. A couple times, he got closer than he probably should have, but he was very respectful and quick to turn the truck around.  There were a few safari jeep drivers who were blatantly breaking the law and harassing the animals, all for the sake of a bigger tip… but James never did that.

Everyone was set on seeing a lion and our dreams come true. He was a colossal beast, passed out atop a dirt mound.  At first, we thought he might be dead.. but no scavengers were around, so obviously he was taking a well deserved nap.

What else thrilling happened on our first day?

We even watched hyenas fighting over the feast of a dead cow.  They are the most hideous, yet interesting creatures. Their teeth are crazy powerful and can apparently cut through bone. For the power they have, unfortunately they are lazy beasts, and their entire survival depends on others killing.  The only time they make the kill is if they’re desperate and only when a full pack can bring an animal down.

They make the list of the Ugly 5 - and I'll have to look the rest up. I THINK it's the vulture, the hyena, the wildebeest... and I'm lost for the other two.

Hold tight... I'll get back to everyone.

Got it!

1. The Hyena · 2. The Vulture · 3. The Warthog · 4. The Wildebeest · 5. The Marabou Stork.


Wish I had a better camera...!

iPhone 11 didn't have safari in mind when they made it...

We were all set up in semi-permanent tents, which were almost like small huts. I shared with Angela, who unfortunately was a light sleeper and kept awake all night by dogs barking,  Preya coughing, Tony snoring, me with my annoying slumber moans… and something zip-zip-zipping a zipper all night.

Not me.

Though she did tell me I snored a bit...

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