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Report-back video for Olkoroi Camp

An exciting new video by Swiss friends Matthias Niederer, Michael Bolli and David Bachoven shows you exactly what you can experience when you visit the Olkoroi Camp.

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Click on the picture above to open Video.

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Olkoroi Camp’s new wildlife camera traps.

Overjoyed, is an understatement for how the Walking with Maasai team felt when they received their new set of wildlife camera traps donated by Kim De Witt and her amazing team of medical volunteers from Global Village Ministries who come and stay at camp every year while they  come and serve the Olorte community with their medical expertise.

Already we’ve managed to capture images of our resident leopard who lives around the camp! We also captured stunning images of buffalo drinking at the camps waterhole at night, including images of lots of other animal activity. Have a look at our Facebook album: Olkoroi Camp Camera Trap Pictures 

We are excited about the prospects of being able to monitor and study the African Wild Dog population in the area to create awareness of their endangered status and value to the community.

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Olkoroi Camp

email signature2The Olkoroi Camp is located in the Loita Hills of Southern Kenya. The camp is situated on the edge of a wildlife corridor linking the Naimina Enkiyio (Forest of the Lost Child) with the world famous Maasai Mara eco-system. This  community based eco-camp was established by Walking with Maasai and offers unique and profound experience for all who wish to experience both culture and wilderness off the beaten track. Read this blog to find out more about what we are all about.

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Starting afresh

Dear Friend,

ImageYou might have noticed that the Olkoroi Camp’s Blog page has not been updated for quite some time. Walking with Maasai is working at putting the right infrastructure in place for our Website, Facebook page and Camp Blog to work together so we can be more consistent and effective with our updates and information. We have also experienced some problems with our internet connection and we are working towards having this restored. Our new website has a page just for Olkoroi Camp and interested people will be able to do booking inquiries through the web page. From here on we will do more regular postings about the camp and all the other activities of Walking with Maasai.

We thank everybody who has contributed towards setting up a better infrastructure that enable us to share our own vision and activities with people.

More updates will come soon!

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His name is “Barsilinga”

By Rodge More O’Ferrall

The traumatized Barsilinga during his rescue.

When I was in Nairobi this August I decided to visit the Elephant Orphanage after reading the blog entry “What are we going to do?” I was so moved by the experience that I have decided to ‘foster’ a male baby elephant called Barsilinga – rescued earlier this year.

I was struck by the impact that poaching has on elephants in the area around Olkoroi camp. At least the orphanage is doing something constructive by rescuing the very young offspring of poached adult females. I will have a chance to visit him on my next trip in November. Elephants are such majestic and intelligent animals that have been walking the area very near the camp for many hundreds of years. It would be great if the community can come to recognise their value and become involved in protecting them.

infinite gentleness needed for a steady journey of recovery and rehabilitation. Barsilinga with his Maasai blanket.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife fund is doing something constructive about this on a worldwide basis. Here below is Barsilinga’s story:

Gunshots were heard during the evening of 13th April 2012 by the community of the Lpus-La-Mpasion area near Wamba in the Samburu tribal area of Northern Kenya. The next morning (14th) a severely wounded female Elephant with a calf at foot was spotted in the area, bullet wounds in the chest area and front legs had rendered her barely able to even move. Yet another victim of the ivory trade, and a grizzly reminder of the suffering attached to each piece of ivory that is sold and bought. Her end was a painful one, full of suffering, and her calf would have been a victim too had he not been one of the lucky few rescued… Read the rest of the story and more about the wonderful work the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is doing –  http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/updates/updates.asp?ID=422#.UFYgYNNhjRw.email

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Buffalo!

By Haddon Davies and Anna Pearson

I stir just as dawn is breaking – the dense Kenyan night will soon melt away. Silence- I can no longer hear the rhythmic sound of grazing that punctured the darkness. Three lean horses found their way to the camp and have been free to roam.
Anna is already awake, propped up on one elbow, peering intently through the mess window by her bed.
‘Quiet, something’s out there,’ she whispers. I strain to hear faint snap of twigs in the undergrowth, and again, the crunch of dry leaves. Anna is off the bed now and gazing into the gloom through the window in the door flap, as desperate for the loo as for a better sighting of the zebra, first glimpsed some mornings earlier.
‘There’s a blurry shape down the hill – probably one of the horses – or just a bush. Still too dark to see.’ She bends to open the zip. I’m behind her now, staring at the shape in the half-light. Anna stretches a leg out of the tent, just as the ‘horse’ moves, raises its head and proudly displays a magnificent pair of horns – a silhouette that is unmistakeably buffalo!
All body parts nimbly retracted, but tent left boldly unzipped, we peer out awe-struck as the cow and calf also emerge from the thicket to join the bull. Unaware of their audience, the family move slowly to the right until hidden from view. We stay rooted to the spot as the bull reappears to the right of our terrace, moving back up the hill towards us and closer than before. We watch him approach through the gap in the tent flaps. Although grazing, the bull is on full alert to the slightest noise. At every sound, he freezes, staring in the direction of the threat. I move a cramped foot, the ground sheet crackles and we are suddenly the focus of a full-on suspicious glare. Time stands still as the two beady eyes stare deep into our souls. The blood pounds in my ears
as finally, the head lowers to continue grazing, we move to watch trough the mess window. Direct eye-contact with such a huge wild animal, free in its native habitat is too intimidating. The bull continues to advance, so close now I feel a sense of mounting terror. Calf and cow are also in the clearing behind the bull, but he has our individual attention. Halting at the very edge of our terrace, he lifts his massive head and delicately whips off the tips of the tall saplings growing by the steps. Close enough now to count the huge folds of hide at his neck, hear the tongue rasping away the leaves, we fully appreciate a sweep of horns that can toss a lion twenty feet with ease.
Suddenly something spooks the calf and cow, sending them back down the hill and into the bush. Our bull is unmoved and munches on. Decades pass before his head lowers and turn, he noiselessly directs his bulk down the hill, into the daylight and out of sight.
We have been imprisoned for almost an hour. Cautiously, I pace the distance from the buffalo’s hoof-prints – a mere twenty-five feet! With danger now at a distance, we rejoice in the thrill of such a close and personal encounter – more especially that we live to tell the tale!

Warmest gratitude to Andre and his wonderful team, who succeeded, in only ten days, to converting two ‘rookies’ from the UK into mini-adventurers, able to apply the first principles of self-preservation: To be invisible, stand still, shut up and don’t point!

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Song of the whales

We heard them long before we saw them. Their snorts, blows and bellowing reminded me of elephants having a mud bath. When we reached the ocean after two days of walking we saw them from the jagged cliffs high above the sea. Far below in the cold blue water they were rolling,  jumping and playing. The whales come to this protected marine reserve with sheltered shores every year to calve and nurse their young. Their presence was as enormous as they were.

The fundraising hike went really well. We had the best weather possible for this time of year and the experience of being out in the wild with people who loved it as much as I did was deeply satisfying.

We did not raise that much money with this undertaking, only £275 this far. But this hike did something to my spirit that no amount of money for my project could ever do. I am not sure what it was that touched me so. Perhaps it was the whales, or perhaps the ocean spray and the sense of wild freedom. Or maybe it was the leopard prints I found on the beach in the morning? I don’t know, but a voice in the wilderness spoke to me and told me to be strong and to have courage.

I suppose, more than funding, one needs to have a strong vision and a hope. If the Walking with Maasai project could save only one more life out of hundreds saved so far through the mobile clinic project, or if it could only give one more Maasai child the prospects of a better future through education, or if the Olkoroi Wilderness Camp could secure the life of only one elephant or wild dog, it would be worth the effort – every step of the way.

The JustGiving fundraising page will remain open if anybody would still like to make a contribution. See some pictures below of the Whale Trail hike. Special thanks to Wessel and Christna Steyn who made it possible for me to undertake this venture.

Eight of the twelve hikers; the trail along the coast and Protea neriifolia

Gone swimming; tidal pool and the whales

Purple Dewflowers(Vygie); on trail and view from a cave

Whales blowing; the hut at Vaalkrans and leopard footprints on the beach

Purple Sea Urchin; thunderous waves on the rocks and a jumping whale

Lost Maasai on the dune and the view from Vaalkrans hut

 

 

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The thing about walking sticks…

“Olchore ngo, take this, I finished it, it is yours now,” he said and handed me the smooth white stick. “It is from the East African Cherry Orange tree – Teclea nobilis, they call it in Latin. I found a tree that was broken by elephants while I was looking after my cows and carved it from the straight stem. You need to rub it with cooking fat now and it will stay nice for many years.”

I gently slid my fingers over the smooth finishing. It was flawless, straight as an arrow and solid like the weight of true hardwood. I softly pronounced the Latin name to myself – “Te-cle-a no-bi-lis.” “Thank you Kashu,” I said. “I will always think of you when I walk with this stick.” I quietly wondered how it came that this young Maasai man out here in the middle of the African wilderness would go through all the trouble of learning each tree by its scientific name. ” He must have a very deep passion for this forest,” I thought – “What enormous potential lie within him… ”

It is now ten years later and yesterday when I got my gear ready for the Whale Trail hike, I pondered for a minute as memories came flooding through when I picked up my Cherry Orange walking stick. “What a journey it has been!” I thought.

So the thing about walking sticks is that there are many kinds – those plastic ones you buy in the outdoor shop, those you borrow,  those you carved yourself and then there are those that someone took the time to make for you. I have many walking sticks that my Maasai friends have made me over the years. I cherish them all because they tell me long stories when I hike of the person who carved them. They remind me of where things began with Walking with Maasai and the camp and they help me to think about the people I care about.

I am just about to leave and join the rest of the Whale Trail team for the hike. I must remember to rub my walking stick in with some cooking fat first…

 

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Final preparation

Final shop has been done and today we prepare equipment and pack our backpacks! Tomorrow is final preparations and the group of 12 hikers will meet on Wednesday at Potberg in the De Hoop Nature Reserve for the starting of the five day hike. It will be a 2 day hike from Potberg to the coast at Noetsie and then a further 3 day hike down along the coast to “Koppie Alleen”. Here is a link for more information about the Whale Trail:

http://www.capenature.co.za/reserves.htm?sm%5Br2%5D%5Bsubsection%5D=589&reserve=De+Hoop+Nature+Reserve

Have a look at the “Walking with Whales” post below, I updated it with the final design for the T-shirts for this fund raising hike. We really appreciate all the support for this venture that people so generously helped with and contributed towards. Now we’ve got to get some more donations in! This blog has just been linked with our Walking with Maasai Facebook page and we ask that if you liked the post, that you share it with as many people on Facebook as possible .

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Walking with Whales

The big shop for the five-day hike along the coast of South Africa never happened today because of the rugby. Oeps! Here is the final design for the T-shirts for the hike. Many thanks to Chantell Hoeftman from Blue Bird Media for a brilliant design! bluebirdmedia@omail.co.za

We need some more sponsorships people! Any small amounts will add up and make a huge difference in what we can accomplish with the camp project!

I also want to encourage people to leave comments and likes when you visit the blog, especially those who know the camp and the Walking with Maasai project. Your comments will help us in a big way.

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