My Experience at the Olpopongi Maasai Village, Tanzania

5 With 98 year old Maasai BibiI grew up watching the East African Maasai on TV and reading about them, so I was a bit prepared for a personal encounter. And guess what? When I finally experienced them, they were all shades of awesomeness. Every moment spent with the Maasai confirmed the fact that they are the most authentic tribe in East Africa. As weird as they seemed to appear, the Maasai are some of the most interesting tribes to live with – thanks to their unique style of dressing and their long preserved culture. The Maasai can be found along the game parks of Kenya and Tanzania.

So I visited the Olpopongi Maasai Village in Tanzania earlier in June 2017 with fellow travellers from Nigeria, Uganda, Australia and the United Kingdom – thanks to the KiliFair 2017 fam trip organized by Pristine Trails Adventures and Safaris, Tanzania.

2 First set of pictures with our new friend JuliaThe Olpopongi is a model Maasai village founded and built in 2008 within the expansive area of land occupied by the Maasai in Tanzania. It was built to generate income in order to support the surrounding Maasai community. There are over 300 tribes of the Maasai in Tanzania alone. Swahili is the country’s official language – a mixture of Bantu, Arabic and German.

The Maasai speak Maa, a Nilothic ethnic language from their origin in the Nile region of North Africa. It is worthy of note that the Samburu tribe is the closest to the Maasai tribe in terms of language and cultural authenticity.

We actually got to spend only 24 hours at Olpopongi, but it felt like 24 months! There was so much to see and do – lots of fun activities, singing and dancing, museum tours, games, bush walks and of course, goat barbecue and loads of delicious Maasai cuisine to savour.

Here is the pictorial journey of my experience at the Olpopongi Maasai Village, Tanzania. Enjoy!

1 Arrival to Olpopongi Maasai VillageWe arrive the Olpopongi Maasai village after a 3-hour drive from Moshi, the home of the great Mountain Kilimanjaro. Here, the Maasai (in red sheets or shuka) greets us and welcomes us to the village.


2 First set of pictures with our new friend Julia

Posing at the entrance of the village for some quick shots before going in to witness the Welcome Dance by the Maasai. Two Maasai warriors (on the right) look on as our camera clicks away


3 Taking a shot with The Jumping Dancers

Maasai men and women are seen arranged in an arch, singing the Welcome Song – while Julia D’Orazio pose for some pictures and Leslie Carvell (on the right) takes video shots


4 Welcome Dance

Maasai men and women are seen arranged in an arch, singing the Welcome Song – while Julia D’Orazio pose for some pictures and Leslie Carvell (on the right) takes video shots

5 With 98 year old Maasai Bibi

This is Maasai Bibi, the oldest Maasai in Tanzania. At 98 years, she’s so strong that she walks without aid or stick, cooks her meals and still plays the role of midwife and nursing mother to many Maasai women. It is believed that her longevity is a function of her diet, she chooses not to eat meat

6 The Maasai village square

This is the village square, where visitors and residents gather to hangout, feast and hold special events

7 Leslie posing in front of her hut

This is a typical Maasai hut. It is also referred to as Boma and it is usually small and circular – built by the women using mud, grass, wood and cow-dung. The men are responsible for providing wood for the roofing of the houses and teaching the young children how to behave – even though the women are actually the ones who rear them. The men also build the fences and sheds for the animals while men are in charge of the cattle, using oxen to cultivate the land.

8 Maasai dining shed - waiting to be served food

Awaiting food to be served.


The traditional diet of the Maasai people consists of milk, meat, fat, blood, honey and tree bark; but we were spared the ‘trauma’ lol and served something less ‘traditional’. To the left of the picture is Ugali, a thick maize-based porridge, which is a staple food throughout Tanzania. Next to it is an assortment of vegetables, rice, and soft drinks.

10 Tourists take turns to serve themselves

Laolu Hassan, a fellow traveller from Wakanow Lagos, dishes his food as Julia D’Orazio waits to take her turn. On the left is a female Maasai (they are usually shoven), standing by to offer help with the food.

11 Pilau or Rice, pancake, coleslaw, vegetable, beef strips,

Here’s my own serving – Kenyan ‘Jollof’ Rice, also known as Pilau, some vegetables, chappati (which looks like rolled pancake) and a little Ugali. I wanted to have a taste of everything.

12 Food is ready to eat

Food is served and everyone is seated to eat. From left, Sam Adeleke (Afro Tourism), Julia D’Orazio (The Roaming Flamingo), Laolu Hassan (Wakanow) and Banke Otubanjo (Afro Tourism).

13 Maasai history class

We proceeded to the Maasai museum where we were treated to some interesting Maasai history lessons. Dressed in their traditional attire, with a real knife strapped to his waist for protection, we were taken down memory lane. And we got to ask questions as well.

14 Very interactive. Ask questions, get answers

A significant aspect of the Maasai history was when an epidemic of deadly diseases struck the Maasai tribe at the turn of the century. This led to the death of a large number of Maasais and their animals. A severe drought also followed that lasted many years. Not long afterwards, the Kenyan and Tanzania governments took large parts of their lands to create ranches and also build wildlife reserves and national parks.

15 Eloquent and well educated Maasai tour guide

The Maasai have a very strong patriarchal structure. From boyhood to adulthood, Maasai boys are taught and groomed on what it takes to be a man and warrior. Boys are usually mentored by their fathers and taught all the customary laws till the point where an elaborate ceremony called – Eunoto – is performed to ‘transit’ from a young man into a warrior. At age 18, the boys get circumcised. Parents then choose the wife for the boy. You can’t choose for yourself. You pay 30 or 40 cows as dowry for the girl. Traditionally, you can marry as many wives as you want as long as you have the means (cows). Today, majority of the Maasai are Christians, so Christian Maasais marry only one wife. And they’re often referred to as ‘Crazy Maasa’, because they have cows but don’t know how to use them.

The Maasai Bible. Majority of the Maasai today are Christians, while others are muslims.

16 Maasai Bibi customarily hosts visitors to local tea prepared in her hut

Here is Maasai Bibi, the 98 matriach, making tea for us and listening to our questions through the Maasai warrior. It’s a tradition for every visitor to Olpopongi to be hosted by Maasai Bibi. We got to ask her about the year she was born, her husband, the number of children, grand-children and great-grand children she has. She mentioned 14 children, but not sure how many ‘grand and great’ she has. Then Bibi asked about those who were married and unmarried among us; and went ahead to pray for us in her language.

17 Visitors take turns to enter and engage her

Sitting in Maasai Bibi’s hut, from left, Julia, Rocky (from Nairobi), Sam and Laolu. In the middle is Bibi’s pot of tea on the fire.


Afterwards, we came to the village square to watch the ‘musical theatre’ performance of the Maasai ‘choir’. Laolu takes a selfie, while Julia takes some shots with her camera

19 Maasai Bibi joins them

Maasai Bibi also joins them in the ‘jumping dance’. She doesn’t jump as high as the younger ones, but tries to make some move with her body – leading them in the song chants

21 Bush walk with other visitors

Next item on the itinerary is a bush walk. So here we are on a bush walk in the vast Savannah lands of Tanzania. Learning about the plants, vegetation, landscape and nomadic culture of the Maasai.

20 Julia enjoys herself at the bush walk with Mount Kenya behind

Here is an excited Julia dancing on the bush walk, and posing for a shot with the Kilimanjaro in the background.


Later in the evening, we experienced some goat barbecue – Maasai style! Watched as the goat was brought to the village square, killed, skinned and roasted.


The roasting experience was exciting to watch, as we all sat round the fire, talking, gisting and sharing stories from our many adventures all over the globe


Cold night out at the village square, doing dinner using the light from the kerosene lantern. Priceless experience

kWe left the next morning after a long and cold night. And got a departure selfie with the Maasai; then wrote some remarks in the Visitor’s Note (to the right) and dropping some tip for the Maasai in the leather pouch (next to the book)


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