One diversion you’re likely to be offered, especially if travelling on an organized safari, is a visit to a Maasai enkang, usually incorrectly called a manyatta (an enkang is an ordinary homestead, a manyatta a ceremonial bush camp). Forget about the authenticity of tribal life: this is the real world. Children and old people are sick, young men have moved to the towns, and everyone wants your money. Unprepared and uncomfortable, most visitors find the experience depressing or a bit of a rip-off, or both. You’ll pay around $30 per person if organized by your lodge, camp or safari driver, or around Ksh1000 per person if you arrange it yourself, for the right to have a look around, peer inside some dwellings, and be on the receiving end of a determined sales pitch to get you to buy souvenirs. Because of the supposed sales opportunity, safari drivers have for decades paid a tiny fee to the headman of their chosen village and kept the bulk of the cash for themselves. A number of initiatives are now changing this, however, and the best operators and camps have worked hard to make the experience less mercantile and more worthwhile for both parties. Visitors can play their part, too, by not just standing and staring, or snapping away on a camera, but by actually sitting down and talking to the Maasai (there will always be people who speak a little English), which may well transform the interaction into a shared experience full of interest and laughter.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Kenya features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

6 reasons to stay in Nairobi before you head off on safari

6 reasons to stay in Nairobi before you head off on safari

Most people coming into Kenya will arrive in Nairobi, but head straight for the country’s vast national parks and beautiful coastline. Stay a little longer in…

23 Aug 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
7 amazing African journeys

7 amazing African journeys

Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. Here, you can be chugging along on …

06 Jul 2016 • Harriet Constable insert_drive_file Article
23 incredible pictures of Kenya

23 incredible pictures of Kenya

Beyond the wildlife, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper took an intrepid trip through Kenya to visit remote tribes and see stunning landscapes. Here, he share…

04 Apr 2016 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month