April 2021 – Luassa the Maasai

Posted on March 30, 2021

April Newsletter

As we turn the page of our In The Saddle calendar to April, we can see Maasai groom Luassa with the horses in Tanzania. Read on to find out more about Luassa and his involvement in riding safaris.

We still have some calendars left, so it isn’t too late. If you would like to receive a copy just complete this form – there is only postage to pay.

Our image for April is of Maasai groom Luassa

Where was the Picture Taken?

This month’s image was taken on the Serengeti Migration Safari in Tanzania. Situated in northern Tanzania, the Serengeti ecosystem spans approximately 12,000 square miles across the border between Kenya and Tanzania.

Who is in the Picture?

This month’s star is Luassa, a Maasai warrior from Tanzania.

Jo Westermark from Kaskazi Horse Safaris tells us that Luassa grew up as a herdsman. He lives in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area with his six wives and eight children.

The picture was taken after a huge rainstorm a few years ago. It was the first time in his life that Luassa rode a horse.

Luassa works with Kaskazi when the Serengeti Migration Safari is running (between December and March). He cannot work with the horse safaris year-round because he has a large family and livestock to look after.

The Maasai People

The Maasai people of East Africa live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, along the Great Rift Valley. Despite pressure to settle, a large percentage of the population continue to practice a semi-nomadic lifetstyle that has remained unchanged for many centuries.

Young herders in Tanzania

You might meet young Maasai herders whilst on safari

Cattle and goats are of prime importance for the Maasai. Luassa takes great pride in looking after his livestock; his cattle in particular are his most prized possessions. A good herd of cattle is a great sign of wealth in the Maasai culture.

You can just see Luassa’s ‘shuka’ in April’s calendar picture. Traditionally, the colours of this blanket would indicate whether warriors were coming in peace or for war, with blue indicating peace and red indicating war. In this way, other tribes could tell from a great distance whether Maasai men were approaching to talk or to fight. But the shuka also serves a practical purpose – the fabric is durable and thick – protecting the wearer from the harsh weather and terrain of the savannah.

Red remains the most common shuka colour, but blue, striped and checked fabrics are also seen

Most Maasai men and women shave their heads during rites of passage, such as marriage. Only Maasai warriors are allowed to grow their hair and wear it in small braids.

The Maasai often stretch their earlobes with wood or bones, with additional piercings on the top of the ear. Stretched lobes are a sign of wisdom and generate respect.

Stretched ear lobes are a sign of wisdom

Maasai Life

The Maasai live in a kraal, arranged in a circular fashion and fenced with acacia to keep out predators. The house (‘inkajijik’) is made of mud, sticks, grass and cow dung. Generally, Maasai women build the house, supply water, collect firewood, milk the cattle and cook for the family. Maasai men and boys herd the livestock and are in charge of keeping the kraal secure.

Maasai herder in Tanzania

It is mostly Maasai women who milk the cattle

On the Kilimanjaro Elephant Safari and the Serengeti Migration Safari you are riding through Maasai territory, where these tribes have been hunting and herding for thousands of years. During the safaris there is a good chance of meeting local Maasai people along the way, although these meetings are not set up, so cannot be absolutely guaranteed.

What Makes the Serengeti Safari so Special?

The Maasai word Serengeti means ‘the lands that run forever’ and that is exactly what makes riding in this area so special. The freedom of the open plains, surrounded by thousands of grunting wildebeest makes you feel so alive!

The expansive plains of the Serengeti

The Serengeti Safari explores the Loliondo area, which features sweeping open grasslands that are ideal for exciting riding. Loliondo lies next to the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, so it is teeming with wildlife. The safaris are timed to coincide with the migration of wildebeest as they move from the Maasai Mara to the grassy plains of the Serengeti.

Giraffe on the Serengeti plains

There should also be plenty of other species, such as zebra, Thompson’s gazelle, impala, giraffe, eland and hartebeest. You might also see small herds of elephant and Cape buffalo. The birdlife is also impressive – ostrich, secretary birds, bee-eaters, many types of raptors and the Go-Away bird.

Riding amongst wildebeest

In The Saddle clients who have done this safari really love the professional guiding, the huge expanses of open space and the herds which are so big you can hear them from a great distance. The riding is superb, with plenty of long exhilarating canters across the plains. Jo’s well-trained, responsive horses are another highlight – Arabs Flora and Zoreya, Kwazar the polo professional and Rouble who is a true gentleman.

Get in Touch

As well as the Serengeti Migration Safari, there is the Kilimanjaro Elephant Safari which explores the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Maasai steppe to the north.

If you’d like to learn more about riding safaris in Tanzania, then please call us on +44 1299 272 997 or email rides@inthesaddle.com

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