Dominic Matai has just chased the topi and zebra off the airstrip in preparation for the landing of the flight from Nairobi. As the engine comes to a halt and the dust settles the imposingly tall man in traditional attire of red shuka and beaded necklace greets his visitors. “Welcome to the Mara. I am Dominic and I will be your guide over the next few days. How was your flight…?’
They have arrived as strangers, but will leave as friends with memories of an unforgettable adventure. Rapport is quickly established on the game drive back to the camp as the guests are amazed at how much they see on this short drive. His first task is to find out about his visitors as well as their interests and preferences. Is this their first visit to Africa or are they seasoned travellers with an interest in birds?
Matai is up well before his guests each morning washing his open 4×4 safari vehicle and preparing it with red fleece blankets, binoculars and guide books. If they are going to be out for breakfast, he is in the kitchen tent ensuring his guests’ particular preferences for their picnic breakfast are catered for. His day is a long one, sometimes being out with his guests for as much as six hours in the morning and three and a half hours in the evening.
In addition to being very knowledgeable about the animals, birds, insects, trees, geology and history of the Mara, he is an educator who captivates his guests by the fascinating way he shares his knowledge. He makes the bush come alive. He has an uncanny ability to find certain animals, interpret their behaviour and anticipate their next move. He is also a butler pouring drinks and serving meals in the most magnificent settings as his guests enjoy the untamed vistas of the savannah plains in carefully chosen places. He is an adept entertainer who is able to weave stories of past experiences and his early years as a young Maasai boy into what he shares. His instinct in the bush developed when he faced the danger of lion and hyaena while herding his father’s cattle. This is complimented by his formal training at the nearby Koyaiki Guiding School and his insatiable appetite to learn more about the wildlife he has lived alongside and learnt to understand. There is nothing quite like being introduced to the Masai Mara by a Maasai who was born into this world, who was a brave Maasai warrior and is now an elder with the wisdom associated with that stage of life.
In addition to Matai leading you in an unforgettable adventure, he will have you laughing much of the time with his primal but dry sense of humour. His cross cultural abilities mean that he is not only able to bring you into his unique and fascinating world with its spectacular game viewing opportunities, but he also understands yours – he is a “bridge” taking you into the romance and adventure of a bygone era in one of the best game viewing areas of the world.
What is it that makes a guide stand out? In a word, his unbridled and infectious passion.