Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Maasi and Ngorongoro Crater

This is a view of Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater, the largest caldera on earth. The lava flow from this massive volcano created the Serengeti plain, which is the size of the State of Connecticut. Ngorongoro Crater is a magical place. The clouds drift in and out and expose glimpses of the plains, trees, lakes, heards of wildlife and flocks of flamingos below. It evoked the same feelings as watching the clouds drift over Machu Picchu.
This is a group of Maasi who greeted our arrival at the lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. They dress is colorful textiles and wear beaded jewelry, including beaded hats and rings around their necks.
The Maasi are a proud, stately and handsome people, with high cheekbones, as shown in this portrait.
This Maasi gentleman gave us a demonstration of spear throwing. The Maasi are not afraid to challenge a lion while protecting their cattle. The lions have learned to identify the distinctive red clothing of the Maasi and the lions will often refrain from attacking their cattle.
This is a close up of the hands of the Maasi gentleman shown above, as he was equally adept with a bow and arrow as he was with a stick. He was an escort for us as we walked at night from the lodge to the bungalow where we stayed, to protect us from animals. There were photos in the lobby of elephants walking right through the camp, and even walking into the lobby.
This child is adorable.
We visited a Maasi village, met with the villagers, went into one of their huts, and bought a lot of their beaded goods, including jewelry, clubs, the ringed necklaces, and other items. We have hung many of these items in a room in our house that is decorated with Australian Aboriginal, New Zealand Maori, Native American, and now Maasi tribal art.


Gunn said...

Very very interesting and beautiful shots!

JM said...

That's a stunning view of one of my favourite places on Earth! You were very lucky, there were no clouds inside the crater when I was there.... I would bet the village you mention is the same I have visited! :-) Fantastic shots, great post!

Joanne said...

Wonderful place to visit, i adored it, we were there when it was dry, the lions used our jeep to rest in the shade. The crater is an extraordinary.... the maasai are beautiful people, the children are really beautiful!
Great moment to have relived, thanks!

brattcat said...

Beautiful shots. I'm wondering what was going on in the last image to result in the wide range of expressions on the individual faces. said...

To answer you question, what was happening at the time of the last photo is that our group of 12 Americans, one American tour director, and two Tanzanian safari guides had arrived at a Maasi village on the slope of Ngorongoro crater. Arrangements were made with the village to receive tourists.

At first there was a lineup in which all of the villagers greeted us. The photo was taken of a portion of the lineup.

After the lineup we were paired with one of the villagers for each pair of visitors. The Maasi villager walked us around the village, explained how they lived, and then took us into one of their huts so we could see the inside of their home. Our villager guide even took our photo inside the hut.

After visiting the hut, the guide walked us around a central courtyard type of area (the village huts are arranged in a circle). On a stick fence around the courtyard the villagers had handcrafted items on display, and our guide helped us as we selected the items we wanted to purchase.

It became rather funny, as it turned out that we selected items that were make by about a dozen different villagers. When it came time to negotiate the price, the villager who was our escort quoted us a price for each item, then there was some negotiation, but all of the other villagers whose goods we were purchasing gathered around to find out how much was being allocated for the item that they made. It became quite a scene.

We do not negotiate very aggressively when we buy handcrafted items in third world countries because we want to support local artisans. But negotiation was expected in this situation, but it was very complicated because the villager who was our escort was negotiating on behalf of about a dozen villagers at the same time. We negotiated one price, not each item separately, and it was up to him to distribute the cash to each villager who made the items that we selected.

When we travel we bring back gifts for about 20 people, so probably had 20 or so different items that were part of the above process. said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...


We had clouds drifting around the interior of the crater each day we were there. Out lodge was above the clouds, so at times the clouds would reveal parts of the crater. It was beautiful. That is why in the description of the photos we made the comparison to the feeling we had a Machu Picchu, where we sat above it and admired the clouds drifting up the mountain and at times covering parts of Machu Picchu.

glenda said...

The people are very handsome and their clothes are so colorful. Very friendly also. Thanks for sharing these.

JM said...

David, as Joanne said, everything was dry (and golden!) when we were there in November 2000 as it hadn't rain for seven monthes!

As to your comment on Zanzibar, two days prior to our departure to Tanzania we were advised not to go to Zanzibar: the Second Intifada had begun a couple of monthes earlier and it was election time in the archipelago, so no one knew what was going to happen there (keep in mind the majority of the population is muslin...). So we went to the Seychelles instead.
A couple of years later we planned a trip to St. Thomas & Prince (a former portuguese colony on the west coast of Africa) and there was a coup there two days before our arrival, so, once more, we had to change everything and then managed to go straight to Zanzibar we have missed before! :-)

brattcat said...

Dave, a fascinating answer indeed. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer so thoughtfully. said...


Thank you for sharing your interesting story about getting to Zanzibar. I am glad you made it during a good time.

Although we did not have enough time or travel wisdom to plan a visit to Zanzibar at the end of our Tanzania trip, our tour director was heading there for a little vacation of her own, even though the island had been without electricity for a month or two at that time.

I would not travel with Julie to places where the electricity is not working. We cannot be without communication to the office, and she is miserable to travel with if her hair dryer is not working!

JM said...

... "she is miserable to travel with if her hair dryer is not working!" - Where have I heard this before? I know exactly what you mean! LOL!

sebi_2569 said...

beautiful blog and nice photo; bravo

sebi_2569 said...

will wait in Romania

SKIZO said...


Cezar and Léia said...

oh sweet Julie,
This is so interesting, you are such a great adventure girl!Thanks so much for these pictures, it's culture and you are very talented with your camera!
purrs and much love from
Luna - We love Luna

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