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.

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