Il Ngwesi is a project linking wildlife conservation and community development. The Maasai of Il Ngwesi, with help from their neighbour LWC, have transformed this undeveloped land, previously used for subsidence pastoralism, into a prime wildlife conservation area hosting white and black rhinos, waterbucks, giraffes and other plains animals. Its truly fitting that Il Ngwesi translates to ’people of wildlife’.
The community now supplements their herding income with tourists dollars gained from their award winning eco-lodge. Il Ngwesi group ranch. s/d incl all meals US$ 209/418.
Six open-fronted thatched cottages boast views from a dramatic escarpment that will have you smiling yourself to sleep and shaking your head when the sun rises (especially in cottages one and five, where the beds rollout beneath the stars). Natural materials are used through out and you’ll never be so in love with twisted, crooked wood-who likes straight lines anyway? The best part is that profits go straight to the masai community. Advance reservations are essential and getting here requires a serious 4WD.
Lekurruki Home to descendants of the tiny Yaaku tribe, Lekurruki sits immediately north of Il Ngwesi. Although descendants of various Ethiopian, Somali and Rendille tribes, they’ve been swallowed by surrounding Maasai communities and have now named themselves Laikipiak Maasai. With most now speaking Maa (a Maasai dialect), funds are being sought to study the remaining 10 traditional Seiku speakers so that the endangered language might live to speak another day.
This community followed in the footsteps of Il Ngwesi by embarrassing wildlife conservation and ecotourism. In 2002 they opened the Tassia Lodge; exclusive use per night US$400, which is perched on the Mukogodo escarpment, overlooking the plains of the sacred mountains Ol Lolokwe and Samburu National Reserve.
The six open-fronted cottages are virtually identical to those at Il Ngwesi Group ranch and the view from each bed, lounge and loo is equally mind blowing. There’s an amazing six-bed children’s bunk house that’s part Antoni Gaudi and part childhood dream. The entire lodge is rented exclusively-not a bad deal for six couples and six kids. Wildlife drives and meals are not included, but they can be arranged. All funds benefit the Laikipiak Maasai Community.
Although close to Isiolo, getting here is a difficult and requires a sturdy 4WD-get directions and a map when booking.
Kenya Maasai Community ecotourism accommodation
While other countries have been fighting a losing battle to preserve wildlife by separating animals and humans, local communities in parts of Northern Kenya, like the Maasai of Il Ngwesi, Laikipiak, Maasai of Lekurruki and the Samburu within the Mathews range, are actually increasing animal populations (and their own standard of living) by embracing peaceful co-existence.
These communities treat wildlife as a natural resource and take serious action to protect its wellbeing, whether by combating poaching with increased security or by modifying their herding activities to human- wildlife conflict and environmental damage. With financial and logistical support from many sources, including LWC, Laikipia Wildlife Forum and the Northern Ranch lands Trust (NRT), these communities have built the magical eco-lodges whose income now provides much-needed funds for their education, health and humanitarian projects.
The pioneering doesn’t stop here. The LWF and NRT also coordinates wildlife conservancy on large private ranches and small farms (in northern Kenya and on the Laikipia plateau), hoping to spark more sustainable development projects and further improve local standards of living. If these brave projects continue to prove that humans and wildlife can not only live in the same environment, but actually thrive from the mutual relationship, an amazing precedent will be set for the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. You could do your part to help by visiting some of these ‘out-of-this-world community lodges’
Robert is a travel expert in Kenya east Africa and tour consultant with Landmark Safaris. Make a free enquiry on best Kenya community ecotourism ecolodges here. http://www.landmarksafaris.com/planner/?refferer=ezinearticles