Camping, this is one of those travel experiences with no in-betweens; you either simply love it or hate it.
If in incase you lean towards the latter because of the back-to-basics nature of camping, a new trend has emerged that might just be the reason you come around at least before ruling it out completely.
“Glamping” or rather, glamorous camping resorts are sprouting up rapidly, with the makeup of extremely spacious luxury tents that come with a personal chef and butler to boot! Nothing basic about that!
Travelers keen to get off the beaten path are best suited for this new form of travel and Kenya has not been left behind in terms of serving you with some of the finest glamping destinations.
Kenya gives you a glamping experience with no barriers; wide, scenic views of the plains and colorful sunsets from your deck with a couple of wildlife looking to make a friend or two popping up at your doorstep to say hello. Here you are immersed in nature with high-end comfort.
Your accommodation tents are a far cry from the poles in the ground you might be picturing; they feature hardwood floors, private bathrooms, and four poster beds, in room Wi-Fi in camps situated in massive acres.
Say goodbye to pitching tents, unrolling sleeping bags, and building fire. There’s nothing like the allure of a luxury experience in the wild taking you back to Ernest Hemingway days.
So, if you really didn’t like your last back-to-basics camping experience, it might just be time for an upgrade. You might consider these destinations for instance;
Ashnil Samburu Camp sits in Buffalo Springs Game Reserve which takes its name from an oasis of crystal clear water at the western end of the reserve. It is separated from Samburu National Reserve by Ewaso Nyiro River and is less hilly and dense yet equally very attractive.
This award-winning tented camp in the Masai Mara, is one of the best places in the world to see the annual wildebeest migration. This natural spectacle happens on the camp’s doorstep and you may catch glimpses of it from the private verandah of your tent!
Sasaab is a stunning blend of Moroccan and Swahili style, located in the heart of the African bush. Each individual cottage is designed to offer majestic views of the landscape and offer a cooling retreat from the African heat.
In Swahili, Mahali Mzuri means “beautiful place”, just one glance and you know it indeed is a beautiful place. It is also right in the path of the annual great migration. The stylish and luxurious tent suites are made to blend in with its surroundings and designed by borrowing elements of regions traditional architecture.
Lewa Safari Camp
This tented camp in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, overlooks Mount Kenya and the reserve. The conservancy is a terrific place to view the endangered black rhino as it is home to about 10% of Kenya’s rhino population. The game viewing in Lewa is excellent.
Jambo Mutara Camp
This elegant safari camp is located just west of Mount Kenya, North of Aberdares Forest. The camp is the only accommodation found in the Mutara Conservancy and it offers the best of safari accommodation in a luxury style.
Mara Bushtops Luxury Tented Camp
Set amid the 60,000 hectares of the Mara Siana Wildlife Conservancy, directly bordering the Masai Mara itself, Mara Bushtops boasts a sensational location. Set in its own private conservancy, the camp has been designed to blend in with the natural habitat to ensure minimal impact of the environment. No expense has been spared on the fittings provided in the 12 spacious and fabulously appointed luxury tents, open on three sides to the great outdoors and each with its own special view. Featuring beautiful interiors solely designed for ultimate comfort and convenience, the camp’s private accommodation has everything you need for a luxurious stay.
Sand River Maasai Mara
This classy tented camp perched on the banks of the Sand river in the Mara is a winner. Located in a quieter area of the Mara the camp has outstanding resident wildlife and is brilliantly located for the migration before it re-enters the Serengeti. The layout of the camp lends a sense of privacy & the decor is relaxed yet luxurious.
‘Shetani ’ means ‘devil’ in Kiswahili: The Lava flows are said to have been formed about 500 years ago. When the locals first saw ‘fire’ erupting and ‘flowing’ on the ground they believed that it was the devil himself emerging from the earth – hence the name “Shetani” Lava Flow.
Want to envisage how the world was like when it was “formless, dark, and void” before God said “let there be light” (Genesis 1:1-3)?? ‘Shetani’ Lava Flow in Tsavo West is the place to visit. God’s wonders are all around us take sometime to appreciate them.
Just as it is with any historical site that has stood the test of time, the four walls of the “Travelers’ Chapel” are shrouded in a lot of mystery and myth. Word goes round of a ticking clock that can be heard but is never seen. It has even been said that those who erected the structure hid their jewels and wills in the church concrete columns setting enthusiasts on a hunt for the ‘hidden treasure’. Perhaps it is these great tales – amongst others, that make this landmark of sorts intriguing. Or maybe the fascination is purely based on its miniature build.
Listed as the smallest church in Kenya (and possibly Africa), the “Travelers’ Chapel” which is commonly referred to by its alias ‘Msikiti – mosque’ by the locals sits pretty along the Mai Mahiu-Naivasha highway. Its story dates back to the Second World War where we are told that British and imperial forces captured more than half a million Italian soldiers, sailors and airmen. Whilst having these prisoners of war (POWs) around as a symbol of military success was all good, The British soon realized that in as much as their ‘symbols of victory’ brought high standing for their ranking in the war, they also posed a few complications as they came with needs as well; one of them being having a place to worship. Seeing that the Italians were Catholics and the British Anglicans, the two parties could not worship together and so they were allocated land to build their own place of prayer.
Under the strict supervision of British colonialists, the construction of The Mai Mahiu Catholic Church popularly referred to as the “Travelers’ Chapel” came to be in 1942. The Italian Prisoners Of War (POWs) would take turns to erect the structure during breaks from the construction of the road. The building of the church was however not without any setbacks. For instance, a number of Italians succumbed to diseases and attacks from wild animals, which included poisonous snakes that allegedly live in the area to date. Several graves lie outside the church compound where the deceased were laid to rest. Thanks to well wishers, a mausoleum has since been erected in form of a cemented cross in honor of the fallen Italians.
The pentagon-shaped church interior has four small wooden pews and an altar with a pulpit. Measuring 15 by 8 feet, it has a capacity to sit 12 people during mass. Just like its bigger counterparts, the church has three normal doors for access.
The inside walls are decorated with inscriptions in Latin. Above the stained glass windows and the entrance doors are painted the words, Venite Ad Memone (Come to me my people), Haec Est VictoriaQuae Vincit Mundum Fides Mustra (This is the victory that has won the world by our faith), Benedicite Coeli Domino Benedicite (Blessed be the sky and blessed again) and finally Universa Germinatia In Terra Domino, which translates to, everything will germinate in the sky and also on the earth.
Behind the altar is an old mural of the nativity scene (baby Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph) surrounded by angels thought to have been created in early 1943. It is not very clear who painted the mural but it is nonetheless credited to Navitatis NDJC. The reason behind this lack of clarity is that “Navitatis” does not seem to have done any works of art before or after the mural at the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church. There is, however, a name inscribed on the mural that refers to Pittore R. and the date 25.02.1943. All that this confirms is the date the mural was painted – 1943. It could as well be that Pittore did the mural – this is still subject to confirmation.
The church has three steps at the entrance that according to Ann Nyakio, a caretaker, symbolizes the Holy Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There are also two crosses on the roof and a compass that symbolizes that the church will stay as long as the world will turn around it.
Today, the Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is management by the Italian Embassy, the Kenyan government and well wishers who pump in their resources to conserve this religious historical site. The “Travelers’ Chapel” is open to all members of the public free of charge. Interestingly though, Christians and Hindus are allowed to worship, whereas Muslims can only visit.
The Travelers’ Chapel is commonly referred to as msikiti – mosque by the locals because it resembles one. Furthermore, prior to the four pews, worshipers used to pray on their knees.
Different communities and dominions conduct their prayers here.
The chapel is a popular venue for weddings and photo shoots because it gives off an antique feel.
Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is a favorite among truck drivers on transit from Mombasa to the landlocked central African countries.
The Mai Mahiu Catholic Church is located on the busy Mai Mahiu – Rironi road.
Amidst the upbeat Mtwapa town, it’s almost unbelievable that there remains a place unscathed with the changes and developments taking place around it.
It isn’t exactly clear as to the genesis of its existence and the mystery that shrouds the place is what makes the Jumba La Mtwana ruins ( an ancient settlement with as much archaeological grandeur as the more famous Gede Ruins) even more interesting.
Who built these buildings and to what aim? There are no historical records on the settlement, however given the name Jumba La Mtwana “Large house of the slave”, some believe that the ruins may have played host to the slave trade. This theory however is highly dismissible there being lack thereof archaelogical evidence that suggests that this may have been the case.
In an attempt to depict the mystery, what is now known of Jumba La Mtwana, has been deduced from the ruins which were excavated by James Kirkman in 1972. The remains of this 14th century settlement were likely built around 1350, inhabited and then abandoned a century later. It is not certain whether ‘Jumba la Mtwana’ was the settlement’s name at the time of occupation. However, one thing that is certain is that the inhabitants were Muslim evidenced by the ruins of 4 mosques, washing platform and water cisterns.
Jumba la Mtwana also known as “Jumba Ruins” was opened to the public in 1973 and was gazetted as a national monument in 1982. It is located approximately 20km (15km north of Mombasa, 3km off the Mombasa-Malindi road, 2.8km on the road leading to the sea at the junction next to Picana factory) north of Mombasa in Mtwapa.
Constitutes of the ruins: Old coral stone walls of 4 mosques, 4 domestic houses (These houses include the House of the Cylinder, The House of the Kitchen, The House of the Many Pools, which had three phases, and the Great Mosque) and a tomb which have survived in recognizable condition situated among huge baobab trees on grassy slopes that descend to the sea. Excavations of the site have revealed numerous artefacts including decorated local pottery and shell beads, imported Chinese and Islamic ceramics, and glass beads.
It is very likely that the site’s strategic position was selected because of the presence of fresh water, exposure to the North East and South East breezes which would keep the people cool and its safe location from external attacks by sea since it had no harbor, thus larger vessels had to anchor along way offshore, or move probably in Mtwapa creek.
Seeing as people only subscribe to several theories of its existence, one can only therefore guess reasons for its eventual desertion subject to further research, namely trade interruption, hostile invasion or a failure in water supply.
The beauty that is now ‘Haller Park’ was once an industrial wasteland. In 1970, one Dr. Rene Haller, took upon him the task of rehabilitating a barren cement quarry whose floor was hard as rock and groundwater saline.
Dr. Haller set out to transform this industrial wasteland into a flourishing natural park, something that was unheard of at the time. His vision; to establish a multitude of plants, providing food and shelter to a large variety of animals.”
Through careful observation of how plants and animals interact, and a series of trial-and-error experiments, Dr. Rene Haller achieved what many had thought was inachievable.
Over 1 million trees planted, and having a range of insects, butterflies, birds and mammals introduced, we now have Haller Park; a serene nature enthusiasts’ haven. Each plant, insect or animal had a purpose to keep the ecosystem in balance. Now Haller Park is a beautiful Wildlife Sanctuary, home to over 30 species of endangered animals and a favorite spot for family time over the weekends.
NB: Nearly 100,000 people visit Haller Park every year.
Entry Fee: kshs. 500 per person *subject to change
Make some time for rooftop cocktails and shisha. (Photo: Tribe)
“You never know who you’ll run into at the Tribe.” That’s what the locals and visitors consistently say about this luxury property in Nairobi.
It’s true. The Tribe has become a go-to destination for visitors here from movie stars, heads of state, famous chefs, supermodels and the adventurous tourist.
Kenya’s bustling capital city, Nairobi, has quite the split personality these days.
The vibrant, thriving metropolis with rich culture and cosmopolitan flair shares its boundaries with an expansive National Park and game reserve.
Interestingly, the 137-room Tribe Hotel is a perfect reflection of the city’s duality. The contemporary and sleek architectural property pays perfect homage to Kenya’s wide ranging historic and natural wonders.
The hotel is serene and sanctuary-like, making you feel soothed and welcome from the moment you set foot inside the lobby. Warm, wide smiles greet you at every turn and the blend of modern design and beautiful displays of African Art give the space a sophisticated style that is elegant but unpretentious. Everywhere you look there are colorful carvings, paintings, tapestries and unique pieces of furniture that blend will with the angled rooms and spaces. The bedrooms are designed to be calming but highly functional while common areas, and there are many, are warm and inviting.
Tribe Hotel is located in a quiet upmarket suburb in the northern part of the city. While this area is certainly a distance from the busier city centre and airport, it is just steps from the Village Market – an upscale shopping area with plentiful shops and dining options. Nearby is also the Friday Maasai market, a great place to purchase local crafts, and the Karura forest is also walking distance away. Most other attractions are a taxi ride away.
Rooms are bright, clean and comfortable while each is uniquely floor-planned and decorated, again with a mixture of original artwork and en vogue styling. Several feature a loft-style, split level lay out that is spacious and well-suited to those who like to work and relax in their room.
Rooms combine modern luxury with gorgeous local art. (Photo: Tribe)
The adjoining bathrooms are sleek and well-appointed with large soaking tub and open showers. One unusual aspect in some of the suites is a glass sliding wall that separates the bedroom from the bathroom. While it opens up the space and gives you a nice view of the beautifully designed bathroom, it provides little sound insulation and therefore privacy. So if you are cohabiting in the room, be prepared to share a whole lot more than just your space.
The hotel’s main restaurant, Jiko, has an extensive and well curated menu of tasty international options from soups, salads and pasta to burgers, sushi and traditional steaks and seafood dishes.
Indulge in delicious homemade sweets at the aptly named Suite 101. (Photo: Tribe)
The included daily buffet breakfast is plentiful and nicely laid out.
Service standards at The Tribe Hotel are unparalleled and the staff might just be the highlight of your stay. They are impeccably courteous, and helpful, almost to the point of it being frustrating, but in no way does it feel false or forced. Each and every member of the team loves their job, it oozes from them, and their attention to detail provides a truly personalized service. So, if you want to be pampered and well taken care of, this is the place.
The luxurious spa is excellent with treatments ranging from hot stone massage and body wraps to facials and chemical peels, while the fitness centre is well equipped, even featuring a boxing area, and is staffed with personal trainers – an unusual addition to a hotel gym.
Nairobi is a city known for its wicked traffic. Let Tribe’s drivers get you where you need to go. (Photo: Tribe)
The hotel also has its own Range Rover which can be rented out for private safari tours into the Nairobi National Park (driver included!), so even if you are tight on time, or bad at organizing excursions, you can still have an opportunity to explore the wilderness.
Driving down the small trail, a Watamu local in the backseat giving us directions, I couldn’t have envisioned what awaited us. I’ve had my fair share of coastal beaches but what I was about to step into I couldn’t have imagined. This little piece of paradise sitting pretty outside the small village of Watamu, is no wonder Watamu is listed as having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Once you step on the beach, the rocky lagoons across the street instantly catch your eye. These reef-protected lagoons line the Watamu National Marine Park and Reserves, which are the oldest in East Africa and one of the best kept secrets in the world recognized internationally as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The Blue Lagoon bay where we chose to spend our christmas afternoon is known for its extraordinarily clear waters sheltering a rich marine life; ideal for snorkelling and offers great panoramic views out over the bay. Watersports, swaying hammocks and luxury beachfront resorts complete the picture – it’s the perfect definition of paradise.
What to anticipate: A “beach boy” or two may approach you with a boat ride offer to the Marine Park. On seeing that we weren’t interested in seeing dolphins, the guy who’d approached us offered to join him and his crew at their hangout joint, a small makuti restaurant where they look out for clients.
Here I met Hussein Guida Turistica who currently goes by the alias Brian when at work. Given the terrorist attacks that majorly hurt the tourism economy, he fears that using his real name Hussein will ward off clients and he could not afford to lose his main way of earning a living.
Italian is the language of commerce here and once in a while he and his friends would shift from swahili to italian when they didn’t want us to here what they were saying while bargaining for a boat ride to the Marine Park.
Now that we are settled on a safari this festive season, we of course have to give you tips on getting through it with ease and ensuring that you enjoy your experience to the fullest.
If your’s is a family getaway, you may be a bit worried if your kids will be safe and sound while embarking on game drives. Worry not; our tips will set you up for that perfect holiday experience.
The biggest attraction of any family safari holiday is naturally “The Big 5″: lions, African elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros. With this in mind, guided safari drives are the safest way for children and families to maximise the magical Kenya experience. Whilst children may get very excited about seeing wildlife, patience is often needed while tracking the African game therefore the main concern here is whether your kids may or may not behave.
Wait until your children are at an appropriate age
The key is to wait until your kids are at the point where they can take instructions (especially on when to keep still and be quiet for the safety of the group). Recommended ages is 5 and over, however ensure that you check with the accommodation first on their policies regarding children and game drives (most require children to be at least 8 years old).
Children get bored easily. You definitely want to ensure that once bored, they do not start causing tantrums. Let your kids be part of the action by either letting them use a camera or a binocular, who knows they may spot the game before you do.
Have activities ready to keep children busy during the drive
Driving to your safari destination may take a few hours and parents know that even the most patient child will get bored during the drive. You can either prepare your ‘our activity package’ with coloring sheets and quiet games, or ask your safari guide and lodge for ideas to keep children busy.
Consider a self-drive or private safari
At larger lodges where families may have to share vehicles during a game drive, keep in mind not all travelers will enjoy having children on their safari. In such cases, get a private guide and vehicle if possible.
Book with a reliable tour operator that accommodates kids
The family travel market is full of tour operators offering safaris to families on a budget; it may be tempting to book with a less expensive operator. Keep in mind that not all lodges accommodate children and that less expensive is not always better. Look out for a single tour operator offering an established portfolio of properties.
Pack clothing that will keep them comfortable
Most family safari game drives take place in the morning or afternoon but older children may want to take part in night drives too. If this is the case, remember to bring warm clothes in the jeep.
Remember your little kids are potential prey for the Big 5
Yes, it’s a scary thought that your young children could potentially be a meal for wild dogs. On her post on National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel, Heather Greenwood-Davis reminds parents to weigh the prey factor. “My sons once stepped out of a jeep at a game reserve where wild dogs were being preserved and the immediate transformation of the dogs from playful puppies to hunters made me very grateful for the electric fence,” she writes.
Don’t feel pressured to go on every safari game drive
The excitement of being on a family trip can get the kids wanting to take part in all the drives and activities offered which in turn may leave them cranky and exhausted. If your children are tired, let them sleep. “Let your little ones rest when things are slow and rouse them for the highlights, tired kids make for terrible safari companions.”
Since safari lodges and camps offer several drives throughout the day, you and your family can still get a break from the excitement of it all and enjoy some quiet family-time together back at camp.
Hasn’t this year flown by fast? we certainly think so. There is still a few days to the festivies though and we have just the perfect place for you to spend your December holidays this year.
If you’ve had a rough year and just want a break from it all; just you, your friends/family and some tranquility, nothing says ‘breakaway’ like the village-like Kivuli Camp.
Situated in the heart of Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary; one of the seven ranches that make up the Tsavo Conservancy, you not only get the intimacy of wildlife viewing unparalleled elsewhere in the continent but also an amazing level of true luxury accommodations, service and cuisine.
Formerly known as Camp Tsavo and before that as the Taita Discovery Centre, the camp just underwent complete refurbishment and so not only can you anticipate a charming accommodation with a new outlook, but also anticipate an affordable experience filled with wildlife, and fun-filled bush activities.
Situated conviniently along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway and just approximately 3hrs away from the coastal towns of kenya, the Kivuli camp experience is perfect for a combination of bush and beach safari (How amazing is that? double fun for you this festive season as you can easily switch up beach for bush for either chrismas or new years’). If safari is not your thing though, the camp can still serve as a transit point for a night’s stopover between Nairobi and Mombasa.
The camp is easily accessible right off Maungu town on your way to mombasa with the entrance point visibly labelled RUKINGA. Nestled amidst the Marungu Hills in a wilderness of ‘wait-a-bit’ thorns and occasional Baobab trees, you cannot go wrong with Kivuli in terms of the game viewing experience seeing as the Rukinga plains form the main migratory corridor for wildlife passing from Tsavo East National Park to the foothills of the mighty Kilimanjaro.
The camp is the epitome of tranquillity and truly embraces the glorious environment it is blessed to be within. All you hear at night is the sound of the wild: elephants, hyenas and the occasional lion; morning is announced by a swell of bird calls.
How remote? The camp has an airstrip adjacent to it. Arrangements can also be made for one to ride in by motorbike, enter with their pets, or fly in to the airstrip with private charters.
Getting around: You will need a car, preferably a four wheel drive.
NOTE: When staying at Kivuli Camp, Conservancy entry fees are only paid once, no matter how long you plan to stay! (It can’t get better than this).
First things first. Though Kivuli Camp is set up in a traditional African Village model, The nearest community village is quite a distance so do not expect that sort of enviroment within the camp. So no farm animals, or crop land and so on, however if you fancy such an experience and would love to be immersed in community life while here, village visits can be arranged.
The Camp’s setting not only affords you utmost privacy and tranquility, but you are able to experience the real African bush, sleep underneath the star-filled sky, explore the fauna and flora up close whilst on bush walks or enjoy a cold Tusker whilst watching the beautiful sunset on top of one of the conservancy’s hills!
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation at Kivuli Camp. Camp in your own tent, sleep in bunk beds or in private rooms. The establishment can accommodate individuals, families as well as large groups.
You have the option of a Family banda, which is a thatched hut containing one room with double bed, one room with twin beds and a bathroom shared between the two rooms.
If camping is more your thing though, Kivuli’s shady Kudu campsite will have you set in your own tent under a tree. The campsite offers clean communal flushing toilets and showers.
You also have a more cheaper option for the backpackers at heart in the dormitory bandas. These thatched huts contain 4 wild wood bunk beds and guests staying in these bandas have access to communal bathrooms (these are separate for ladies and gents, one drawback though: the bathrooms have sheer curtains in place of doors; not the most privacy one could hope for).
If the accommodation options above don’t suit your needs and you would rather just a private space for you, your family or friends, fret not! Kivuli Camp has just the place for you; NDOVU HOUSE
Although part of Kivuli Camp, guests staying in this house have their own private access and move independently of the other accommodation spaces.
This beautiful breezy four-bedroomed house with an upstairs lounge offers a great view over the Tsavo Conservancy and sleeps 11 people. So quiet, so private, so unique!
The design of the house puts a lot of consideration into comfort and convinience what with an open kitchen connecting to an outside bar and fire pit. The perfect place for a family or friends getaway. so much bliss!
The house is very airy and adapts an open space plan built with a lot of natural materials; flours of Galana stone, a lot of wood and an impressive makuti roof. The dining of the house is completely open to the garden as well. Being in the wild though, you don’t have to worry about the open-plan design of the house as kivuli camp has a fence surrounding the area to keep wildlife out.
Guest Access: While staying at Ndovu, you will have access to the house in its entirety. That is the dining area, kitchen, upstairs lounge, four en-suite bedrooms and a large garden equipped with a bar and fire pit.
Room Service: Um, no, the accommodation is set up to be of self-service however there is a staff who make beds and clean every day. If you would rather not make your own meals during the stay, a cook can be provided at a small fee.
Amenities: I would like to think that setting out on a bush safari, this would be the least of your concerns. Kivuli Camp is about experiencing the African wilderness — its game, its birds, its flowers, its dazzlingly night sky — in its remotest, wildest and most beautiful sense.
The Best Spots:
The hills around the conservancy are definitely something to look forward to for great sundowners and breathtaking views of the African wild.
Being more of a private conservancy, with very little traffic, the animals here are not very accustomed to cars and thus tend to run when you get closer (hint: try to be as quiet as possible). With various watering points in the area, your best bet is to catch the animals playing with mud or cooling off on a hot day.
Kivuli Camp unlike other camps is guaranteed to up your game-viewing experience with a one-of a kind ultimate discovery game drive vehicle (eerm truck!) famously known as Beba Kuu. Nothing will skip your eye with this ‘little’ thing.
With the 1962 French ‘Berliet’ Truck, seated at height under a canvas cover, you can spot wildlife even from the longest distance.
While at the camp you can also visit the Tsavo East and West National parks for more wildlife viewing experience.
Tsavo Discovery Centre: This is a specialty education centre that hosts schools, universities and youth groups for overnight educational programmes at Kivuli Camp. The Tsavo Discovery Centre is equipped to teach an abundance of subjects related to conservation, biodiversity, community and much, much more. Here you will find a laboratory with field exhibits, museum collections, and an education centre for meetings and classes.
Moreover, if you fancy a community living experience, Wildlife works has many community projects that you can be part of or visit e.g the Basket weaving women at Kasighau and so on.
Bottom Line: There are many interesting things to explore around the camp itself, that I guarantee you’ll end up having very little time to experience it all.
Main area with reception, loung/library, dining and fire-pit
Communal showers and flushing toilets, a kitchen and a laundry area
Generator power from 6pm to 10pm, phone charging possible from a solar lighting system 24hrs.
Phone signal available in certain areas of the camp. Internet available in the evenings
Communities living alongside national parks face numerous problems trying to co-exist with wildlife. Farmers have to take turns all day guarding their plantations from baboons who steal their food. Elephants stampede through their crops. The animals are also under stress, as humans encroach on their habitat.
This type of human-wildlife conflict is what led to the establishment of Wildlife Works to help mitigate the competition for land and food between locals and their park neighbors in Taita Taveta County. The Founder, Mike Korchinsky a Canadian citizen, learned about the conflict that existed between wildlife and rural communities during his visit to the country in 1996. His experience caused him to think about effective ways to solve this problem which ultimately led him to developing a plan that would ensure the utmost protection of wildlife.
Wildlife Works, based on the principle that the needs of wildlife must be balanced with the need for work for the local communities who share the same environment, established that the ultimate solution to this problem would be to create jobs; to provide forest and wildlife friendly economic alternatives to the forest community.
Mike looked for an area with a high threat to the wildlife to best test his new model. He settled on Rukinga Sanctuary, located south-east of Kenya in a wildlife corridor between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, known as the Kasigau Corridor. The project was to be carried out on 13 group-owned ranches and conservancy land owned by Indigenous Community Ownership Groups.
According to Wildlife works, Job creation would not only be providing the people in this wildlife rich area with sustainable economic alternatives to poaching and slash and burn agriculture; it would also in turn be protecting wildlife in a direct and unique way.
“The only way to protect a forest that’s under economic threat is to remove the economic threat. And the only way to do that is to give the community another way of achieving their goals because they’re not going to not develop.” -Mike Korchinsky; Wildlife Works Founder.
Why Wildlife Works:
Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests – a significant tool to providing real value to those rural communities who have made the commitment to protect their environment for future generations. The additional plus sign in the Wildlife Works’ business model (REDD+) signifies that community development is one of their key goals.
There are six key elements to the Wildlife Works brand of REDD+ that make it a successful model, the foundation of it all being job creation.
Organic Clothing Factory
The starting point of the wildlife works’ viable economic alternative project was setting up an eco-factory that produces organic casual apparel under the Wildlife Works label, sold worldwide by big brands among them Puma. All garments are carbon-neutral and made from organic and fair-trade cotton. The eco-factory originally hired seven local women but has hugely grown now and is responsible for over 80 employees; all members of the surrounding community. The factory has gone a long way in providing a sustainable alternative to destructive harvesting.
In order to assist the local communities in their move away from subsistence agriculture and deforestation, Wildlife Works has established an organic greenhouse, in addition to multiple nurseries with more in development. The nursery grows citrus trees and agro-forestry species such as Neem and Moringa oliefera to meet farmers’ medicinal, nutritional and fuel wood needs.
Each nursery, which employs approximately five people, is responsible for working with their immediate community to plan and implement the crops, while Wildlife Works provides training. In addition, the nurseries are building a business around Jojoba planting. The oil from Jojoba seeds is quite valuable and is used in the cosmetics industry and as biodiesel fuel. Community members are raising the plants in the nurseries to later plant and harvest. Wildlife Works on the other hand will assist in providing market links for the farmers to sell the seeds.
The local population’s need for farm land has also been addressed by the establishment of a land cooperative on 5,000 acres. The land set aside for the cooperative is land that had been cleared before Wildlife Works began its work.
Forest and Biodiversity Monitoring
Physical protection of the land in which the REDD+ project is set up is vital. The Kasigau Corridor REDD project is protecting 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of dryland forest which is under intense threat from slash and burn agriculture, as the local population expands. The Kasigau Corridor project is also home to five mammal species that are considered endangered, vulnerable or threatened: African elephant, cheetah, lion, African hunting dog and Grevy’s zebra.
To prevent illegal access into the project area and to ensure that the land is protected from deforestation, Wildlife Works has established several ranger stations around the project areas; each station with 8-12 rangers, recruited and trained from the local communities.
Working with a no-gun policy – but with the power of arrest granted by the local community, the Wildlife Rangers have received a lot of skepticism on whether or not they are fit to protect wildlife in their sanctuary especially considering the current Ivory poaching crisis in the country’s National Parks; an alarming number of elephants are losing their lives to poachers and Rukinga Sanctuary has not been spared either. Despite the fact, even with larger elephant populations, Mike believes his rangers fare well as any because they have such a strong relationship with the local communities who inform them of the comings and goings of possible poachers. They have the best intel based on the work they do with local communities.
Wildlife Works has also forged a good relationship and works side by side with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers who are armed with a shoot to kill policy, trained in combat, and who are permanently stationed within the sanctuary. Whenever there is an armed poaching incident, Wildlife Works’ rangers are trained to avoid any confrontation until they have KWS armed support, and even then they are not supposed to be in harm’s way if shots are fired. Over the course of 18 years, there has been only one incident where these rangers were fired upon.
There are nearly over 80 rangers in total employed by the project currently.
An additional activity of the project is a three year reforestation project on the slopes of Mt. Kasigau to plant 20,000 indigenous hardwood trees. These trees are not included in the emission reduction calculations, but it is a valuable initiative to help replace trees cut down for charcoal production and construction over the past years. The community members involved in the monitoring and implementation of the project are rewarded financially for helping to ensure its permanence.
Deforestation continues significantly in the area adjacent to the project today, illustrating that, in the absence of the project, this activity would still continue within the sanctuary.
Eco Charcoal and Fuel Wood
Charcoal burning is one of the activities carried out for economic sustenance in Taita Taveta County. In order to avoid wood being taken from the project area in an unsustainable and ecologically damaging way, Wildlife Works has initiated an extensive project to explore the large scale production of carbon neutral charcoal derived from bush trimmings, allowing the local community to be self-sufficient in fuel wood without having to degrade any of the land.
Social benefits: School Construction and Bursary Scheme
Prior to Wildlife Works arrival, the area in which the project is carried out had no schooling facilities or necessary amenities to ensure children gain a good education. Thanks to the project, they have already built 18 classrooms throughout the district and a partner has established a bursary programme which has sent dozens of children to high school. A plan is in place to send at least five new students a year through four-year secondary school programmes and on to college or university. A school construction and maintenance fund will provide funding every year to seed school construction and maintenance projects in the area.
Wildlife Works is also working on extending access to fresh water to the locals who previously had to send their children up to 15 miles to retrieve water several times a day. They have implemented a clean water supply for the schools using an innovative rainwater catchment system and manual rower pump to allow the children to retrieve the water for themselves from underground storage tanks.
Prior to Wildlife Works, the migration corridor had been lost to poaching and encroachment before the area residents were engaged in consumer powered conservation. Wildlife Works sees empowering local people with sustainable livelihoods as the key to protecting the forest in the long-term, and with these projects, the link between better livelihoods, conservation and wildlife works is clear.
The foundation was about finding solutions that lead to mutually beneficial co-existence. The work here has led to people being more enthusiastic and supportive of conservation, and has demonstrated that people can live alongside wildlife while developing sustainable livelihoods. The local communities want to protect the environment because it works for them, hence the name Wildlife Works.
In total, Wildlife Works today provides over 400 jobs to the local community and brings the benefits of direct carbon financing to nearly 150,000 people in the surrounding communities.