The Maasai Olympics


Epic Road’s mission since its founding has been to take travelers on luxurious, philanthropic trips to Africa and the Arctic. Whether it be dropping Luci Solar Lights to energy poor communities or visiting animal conservation sights, ER allows you to create a positive change first hand.

The Maasai tribes of Kenya and Tanzania are taking part in their own conservational efforts with the Maasai Olympics. This sports competition is used in place of the Maasai tradition of teaching new warriors to kill lions in order to compete for women, display their bravery, and distinguish themselves as leaders. 

There is a small group of Maasai leaders referred to as the “menye layiok” which translates to “fathers of the warriors”. These select few are responsible for teaching all new warriors the required skills, and in 2011-2012, the menye layiok made the progressive decision to discourage lion hunting by hosting the Maasai Olympics: an athletic competition that revolves around the skills of a warrior. These skills include a 200m sprint, 5k run, high jump, spear throw, and rungu throw. Various prizes are given out to winning athletes, from a stud Borana bull to scholarship money.

The Maasai Olympics also has a powerful educational component in the form of a short documentary that is shown to all new Maasai warriors. The film is titled “There Will Always Be Lions?” and was created by filmmaker Kire Godal. It preaches that although tradition is an important part of their tribe’s culture, hunting lions and other endangered wildlife is no longer acceptable. Failing to take conservational action, the menye layiok recognize, will lead to an unsustainable future for the Maasai. Another great film produced by the Big Life Foundation about the Maasai Olympics can be viewed here:


The event is expected to take place again in December of this year. To explore the culture of the Maasai and other African tribes, visit our African Safaris page to plan your next trip! 

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