Merrueshi, Kenya

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION:

Merrueshi is located about 3 hours southeast of Nairobi in the wildlife corridor between the Chyulu Hills, Tsavo West, and Amboseli National Park.

ETHNIC ORIGINS

The Maasai originated from the lower Nile Valley and began migrating south around the 15th century, arriving in Tanzania between the 17th and 18th centuries. It is estimated that 1 million Maasai people live in Kenya and Tanzania.

LANGUAGES

Ki-Swahili, Maasai, English

Merrueshi Kenya hutVery few people are invited to experience the daily life of the Maasai in a traditional village. This community has embraced community-based tourism as a way to celebrate and preserve their cultural traditions. Travelers who stay here are encouraged to share in activities with locals such as bead-making lessons, storytelling sessions, and traditional Maasai warrior dances. Morning nature walks lead by the warriors allows visitors to not only see the wildlife that lives near by, but learn about native plants and local watering hole ecology.

COMMUNITY LIAISON: KAKUTA HAMISI OLE MAI MAI

kakuta hams kenya speakingKakuta was born and raised in Merrueshi, a small remote village at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, southern Kenya. With the help of his village he pursued a western education in the US and received a Master of Arts degree in Sustainable Development from The School for International Training in Vermont. He decided to return to Kenya and give back to his community. Kakuta is a man with a foot in two worlds; in his village in Kenya, he is a respected warrior and leader who has championed socio-economic development initiatives for the Maasai people. He also lives in Seattle on semi-annual basis working at the Woodland Park Zoo. He educates and inspires Zoo’s visitors to learn more about his homeland.

Kakuta is also the founder of the Maasai Association – a local non-profit with a mission to empower the Maasai people so that they can make better-informed decisions affecting their future. We’ve enjoyed a wonderful partnership and friendship with Kakuta and his village over the years. Merrueshi village is thriving because of his leadership. The village has a unique approach to development; while they embrace improvement of social services such as education, health, and water they also strive to retain their traditional ways of life. Merrueshi Kenya woman

COMMUNITY PROJECTS

Crooked Trails has been working with the village of Merrueshi since 2002. Through our partnership with The Maasai Association, Crooked Trails has brought travelers to Merrueshi to assist with a variety of construction projects such as building of the schools, the water system, and the health center. We are currently supporting their efforts to build a dormitory. These projects are essential to community self-reliance and cultural conservation. Kakuta believes that change is inevitable and they would rather be agents of change than victims of change. Merrueshi is not a typical tourist village and accept small and limited groups of visitors every year.


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