Jumping Off Swing Ropes With The Maasai

Jumping Off Swing Ropes With The Maasai

After hiking Kilimanjaro, I had a day or two to spare in Moshi.  I really wanted to go to a Maasai Village, but I was not in the mood of paying a ridiculous price to see a theatrical act.  Yes, that’s what the Maasai Villages have come to be… a money grabbing theatrical act.  That is, unless you visit the not-so-popular/farther villages that still conserve some of the old traditions.

Oh well, no Maasai for me…

That is until Matt – who hiked Kilimanjaro with me – told me about an “unofficial tour” to a nearby “oasis” where you can swim and swing on ropes.  He found out about this through someone who knows someone who goes there… that simple!

Dave, Hugh, and I jumped on the idea, and along with Matt (and the “unofficial guide”) off we went to have some post-kili fun.

This oasis – well, it is actually a natural pool in a somewhat dry area, fed by the river that runs nearby – is located in Kiluletua Village, about 1 hour away from Moshi.

Massai Villages near Moshi

On the way there, we traveled through some really bad dirt roads that passed through some Maasai Villages and markets, as well as a few Pare Villages.  These villages are outside the tourist trail, so they seem to be as authentic as they can be.  While we didn’t stop at them, we could see from our car all the interactions in the Maasai market, the villagers (dressed in their traditional clothing) carrying their crops and herding their cattle, and walking to and fro around the village.  It was so interesting to see – and foreign!

We got to the “oasis” and our eyes confirmed that this is really not a touristic place.  Aside from a few teenagers swimming in the water and a few Maasai kids as spectators, there was no one around.

Massai Villages near Moshi

You might have heard that the Maasai are afraid of the water.  And that is true, for the most part.  Maasais consider fishes to be some type of underwater serpent, and they “prefer to be eaten by a lion than to die in the water”.   But these days, some of the Maasai kids and teenagers have challenged that believe and learned to swim.  A few of those were the ones at the oasis.

So after all, I am spending some time with the Maasai!

Without much convincing we jumped into the water – making our introduction with the swing rope, of course!   It was a bit cold, but oh so good!

Massai Villages near Moshi

If swing ropes are not enough, there’s also the option of jumping from a tree branch, which hangs about 25’ over the water.  And of course, we couldn’t miss that either!

After about an hour of swimming and mingling with the Maasai (and getting photobombed by them!), we walked to see a nearby waterfall.  On the way there, we saw lots of baboons, blue back monkeys, a few eagles, giant termite nests, and a few other animals.  We were told that if lucky, we could see crocodiles too.

Massai Villages near Moshi
Matt, me, Dave, Maasai photobomb, and Hugh (left to right) in the crystalline waters of the oasis.

We passed through a Maasai village that looked a bit abandoned.  Well, most of the villagers were at the market or doing their business, so just a few stayed behind taking care of the kids or doing other stuff.  A few kids looked at us with curiosity and said “Jambo” (hello) from a safe distance.  Some women looked at us from the doorway of their mud brick houses or simply didn’t mind us and kept to their business.

Massai Villages near Moshi

I liked this experience there.  It was like if we were mostly invisible and we saw them as they are as we passed – though, honestly there wasn’t that much to see.

The waterfall was pretty nice, though not that impressive (well, that’s my opinion after seeing Murchison Falls in Uganda).  But anyways, the hike was pretty nice.

Massai Villages near Moshi
With Hugh, Matt, and Dave (left to right) at the Waterfall.

This trip was one cool Maasai experience, and I’m sure the interaction with them at the oasis was more authentic than the “typical village trip” interaction.

Now, it’s time to take the bus and ferry to Zanzibar!

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14 thoughts on “Jumping Off Swing Ropes With The Maasai”

  1. You guys really had a lot of fun. I can see it in the pictures. I am planning to visit Tanzania soon and I think I just found a fun activity to carry out for free.

  2. This is so amazing, Norbert! What a great experience. The Masai is…as you say, a spectator sport—much like the Gladiators were before. Which is very sad…but at the same time, if these people take the time to really preserve the culture as you have observed, you have a very rich experience. Lovely photos! Sounds like a blast.

    1. Thanks Charu! It was a great experience, and the best thing about it was that we didn’t have a company as “intermediary” between the Maasais and us. The experience and the interaction was genuine.

  3. This sounds like so much fun, and how wonderful that you got to interact with people where and how they really live, not how they perform their cultures. I’m sure that performance would be great, yet the experience you had sounds even better.

    1. Oh it was! Yes, what I liked about this experience is that the interaction was genuine and not based on getting anything (ie. money) from us. We had fun jumping off the swings and walking around. I highly recommend this over the normal village tour. (though the performance does look cool)

  4. Cynthia Thompson

    A very interesting story. I can imagine the bad dirt roads through Maasai Villages and markets.But the Crystalline waters of Oasis is worth the travel.

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