Photographer Reece McMillan explores the small Kenyan community of Maji Moto, to find the beauty of this country extends far beyond the safari experience, to the welcoming Maasai people that call Maji Moto home.
On the way from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara safari destination, is a small community called Maji Moto.
Translated literally into “hot water”, this Maasai settlement based around a thermal creek is only about 90 minutes from the Maasai Mara.
Before I left Kenya for the last time, I spent three days connecting with and learning about members of this local community, and the efforts of its community leaders to improve the health and future of Maasai people.
While most tourists visiting Kenya prioritise ticking off the safari ‘Big Five’, visiting a place like this reveals that the true beauty of Kenya lies in the personalities of its people.
From visiting a school set up to educate and protect Maasai girls escaping harmful cultural practices, to meeting the women and kids of the Widow’s Village, wandering the savannah landscape with the Maasai warriors (Morans), greeting women collecting water by the river, learning to throw spears and communicating without words, all to realise just how similar we are,
despite cultural and geographical differences.
It’s hard to beat the memories of evenings, sharing the fire with the Maasai camp staff, listening to the Moran’s singing together, under the open stars.
The beauty of this region is in how welcoming everyone is, and how invested they are in the wellbeing of their future generations.
The leaders of Maji Moto, like Chief Salaton Ole Ntutu, spend their time working to keep cultural values and traditions alive in the Maasai community, while striving to eliminate the harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation, child marriage, and a lack of education.
They view tourism as an opportunity for mutual education and connection, rather than a profit-venture or cultural performance.
It seems the Maasai have found a truly forward-thinking approach to tourism and travel, while holding true to their rich cultural identity.