Express News Service

Maasai Mara, a wildlife conservation and wilderness reserve spread over a wide area (1,510 square kilometres) in south-western Kenya, is the stomping ground for lions, leopards, cheetahs, zebras, wildebeest, gazelle and herds of elephants. “It is a dream come true for anyone looking for an adventure-filled trip into the wild. It has pristine riverine forests, dramatic towering escarpments, stunning savannahs, parched scrubs, big cats and, of course, the Maasai warriors,” says actor and TV host Samir Kochhar, who has just launched a travel show, ‘Travel Unusual’; Maasai Mara is the first episode.

The five-part series, with each of its episodes being 13 minutes long, is currently streaming on the actor’s YouTube channel. “It’s easy consumption. Today, things have to be quick and fast. People don’t have time; therefore, the videos are of short duration,” the actor says.

‘Travel Unusual’ is a tribute to Kochhar’s love for travel. His idea is to create offbeat travel videos and make nature a primary character in this journey. Nowadays, people have become “footprint travelers”, he says, while admitting he has been one of them. “With social media, visiting places has come down to posting photographs and ticking destinations off the bucket list. I want to change this. Travelling should be more about soaking in the current moment,” he says.

Kochhar, a big fan of American travel and food documentarian Anthony Bourdain, says: “India doesn’t have a presence in international travel and unknown destinations. The objective is also to carve a niche for an Indian voice in the world of travelogue.”

Travel has different emotions and moods. A getaway with the partner or family differs significantly from a trip with friends. However, the aspect Kochhar explores in Maasai Mara is travel for oneself. “The city structure we live in today, the work we do and what surrounds us – everything consumes us. It is necessary for the brain and the body to detox,” he says. “Before COVID-19 struck, I visited Maasai Mara with my wife and friends. Its beauty blew my mind. I made a pact with myself that I have to come back to soak in the beauty of this place,” recalls Kochhar.

After catching a six-and-a-half-hour flight from Mumbai to Nairobi and a car drive of over five hours, he arrived at the beautiful grasslands, where he was warmly welcomed by locals. “Gently diffident and impeccably polite, the Maasai Mara warriors sport vibrantly coloured layers as they perform their traditional dance,” he adds. Instead of putting up in a fancy hotel, Kochhar opted for a campsite nestled in the middle of the reserve to stay closer to nature. In the five-part series, the actor summarises the essence of the national reserve, unveiling tribal tales, capturing the quick-changing natural beauty, and spotting wildlife wonders, including the big five —the African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros; and, of course, the beauty of the surrounding environment.

As Kochhar puts it, “Maasai Mara is a beautiful example of how man and wild nature can co-exist.” The Maasai people, once known as hunters, are now called the protectors of the wild. They live on the outskirts of the reserve where wild animals come and go. “The Maasai have to daily protect their cattle and themselves. And, they have their own ways of dealing with this madness, which to them is an everyday affair,” he adds.

Kochhar says this series is a trailer of the travel show he plans to take across India and the world. Japan’s Hokkaido, South America’s Patagonia and the Antarctic region are other destinations on the actor’s list.

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