When we set up the Wild Eye Camp in the Masai Mara we have to armed guards from Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) that patrol the camp at night and keep away any unwanted ‘visitors’.
Arriving at our campsite in in Amboseli the first thing that struck me was the size of Kilimanjaro, and how close we were to it, and the second was that since we were camping on private Maasai land we would not have anybody from KWS to guard our campsite. The fact that three lionesses took down a zebra about 4oo meters from where we erected our dining tent made me think about this as the sun set over the mountain.
The amazing thing was that two Maasai from the local village were assigned to protect our camp at night. The amazing thing was that these weren’t play-play Maasai which some lodges use to entertain the tourists but real people who live and breath the traditional Maasai lifestyle.
On our second morning I woke up early – very early – to go and shoot some stars with some of the guests.
As we walked away from the campfire area we heard footsteps behind us and there he was. Our Massai guardian with his spear and sheath-knife as his only weapons. Apparently there was a small herd of elephants that came through the area a little while earlier and he was there to make sure we were safe.
Polite, proud, soft spoken and truly African.
As we went about photographing the African night skies giving way to the break of dawn I felt truly blessed to not only have the opportunity to do what I do but to have an Africa, a real Maasai, there taking care of us. A humbling experience to say the least.
During one of our long exposures our guardian walked into our frames as he thought he had heard something in the nearby bushes.
This gave the perfect opportunity to try a slightly different image.
After having asked his permission to take the photograph he was very obliging and, judging by his reaction when se saw the image, very pleased with the result.
I look forward to spending more time with these amazing people when we head back to Amboseli next year.
It is a true privilege.
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt
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