A Hidden Gem - Kakiya Cave

We’re used to surprises in the Bush, but sometimes we get left open-mouthed. Finding a historic Masai cave in our conservancy at Mara Bushtops was just such an occasion. As a result, our excursions have just become even more exciting!

We’d heard rumours of the cave’s existence, but after 10 years at Mara Bushtops, had no idea that within a 15 minute drive (and 10 minute hike) lay a centre of worship, sacrifice and communal gathering.

It’s called the Kakiya cave and it is truly incredible. Kakiya means the place of eating and drinking, giving us a pretty solid clue as to its central role in Masai life!

A walking safari through a scenic valley takes you into a hidden world. Here you can learn how to create a fire (without matches) before your Masai spotter explains the cave’s history, role and continued relevance to the Masai. This includes an explanation of the cave art, which uses red ochre to depict wild animals and warriors, usually created to celebrate a kill. It is hard to know when the cave was first used. We know some of the paintings are from the 1950s, but many may be much older.

The elders tell us that the Masai have long used the cave for traditional rituals, including ancestor worship and the sacrifice of pure white or black bulls. Two-week feasts would follow, with long stays supported by ample fresh water from nearby springs.

Young boys would spend time in the cave before going back to the villages for circumcision ceremonies. Earlobe piercings took place in its hallowed surroundings, whilst local herbs and medicines were gathered and concocted, using Orange leaf crotons, the sickal bush, combretum molle roots and more.

The site was discovered by the Mau Mau in the 1950s, when hiding from the British during the fight for independence. Since then, the Masai have continued to use the spot, though ancestor worship has largely given way to Christianity. Nonetheless, it is no historic relic, with a regular flow of Masai visitors making it a vibrant part of tribal life.

It’s utterly unique, so don’t miss your own special visit!