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Maasai Wilderness and Elephant Conservation Safari

OVERVIEW

Just imagine going on an African safari in a remote expanse of gorgeous protected wilderness 20 times the size of Manhattan, the exclusive guests of an ancient African tribe, overnighting with rescued elephants, and gazing upon some of the most iconic landscape in all of Africa—yet the only lodge in the entire area has the space to accommodate just 16 guests.  You will find all this and more at Campi ya Kanzi and Ithumba Camp, two innovative eco-destinations and conservation initiatives in southwestern Kenya, both situated in the the grassy foothills of the Chyulu Hills in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, a region associated with classic African adventure and romance that has captured the imaginations of travellers for centuries—including your hosts.  Campi ya Kanzi is located on more than 400 square miles of a pristine Maasai reservation and runs in partnership with the local tribal community, who will serve as your gracious hosts and expert safari guides throughout.  You can also arrange an exclusive overnight at Ithumba Camp, a site where young orphaned elephants are being reintroduced back into the wild, and witness successful wildlife conservation in action as you connect and engage directly with these beautiful and beloved creatures.  The passion behind these enterprises and their mission is evident from the very start: from the state-of-the-art green technology and organic design of the Campi ya Kanzi lodge and tented suites, to the embracing hospitality of the staff, and deep respect for the land and its inhabitants—animal and human—that infuses every activity, encounter and aspect of service. You will discover something different every day and, just like those famous explorers who came before you, you will walk away from this experience forever changed.

WHAT WE LOVE

  • Overnight with Elephants: Ithumba Camp is a tiny, tented camp in a remote corner of the Tsavo East National Park, built to accommodate travellers who crave intimate and authentic interactions with elephants in their natural habitat.  Run in partnership with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust—one of the most revered animal rescue organizations in the world—Ithumba Camp is located in an area where young elephants are reintroduced back into the wild after they have been rescued and rehabilitated at the orphanage. Your morning alarm will be the synchronized trumpeting of an elephant herd, and your day will center around feedings, mud baths, and walks with the elephants around the camp grounds.   You will get close enough to recognize the playful and uniquely charming personalities of each beautiful creature and witness heartfelt moments as the orphans mingle and bond with their adopted families.  Guides and catering at the camp can be pre-arranged, so after a day with the elephants you can sit down to a privately-prepared meal by the campfire, and watch the spectacular sunset reveal the silhouette of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the far distance: truly Africa at it’s finest.
  • Tracking with a Maasai Guide: Guides at Campi ya Kanzi are drawn from local Maasai communities, and all tracking activities can be tailored to meet your personal preferences—from classic drives that trail big game, to river safaris that observe bathing hippos and lurking crocodiles, to low impact walks where you can birdwatch and absorb age-old tips on how to recognize plants, and read footprints and animal waste.  Whatever style you prefer, your guide will lead you with the innate sensitivity and expertise cultivated over thousands of years living on that very land, and will leave you with a deeper appreciation of the importance of considering and preserving his tribal homeland.
  • Safari by Air: The massive grounds of Campi ya Kanzi include an impressive range of natural ecosystems—from open plains and grassy savannahs to cool river woodlands and mountain forests—and the best way to absorb the full scope of the land’s beauty is by air.  A number of day and half-day excursions in light aircraft can be arranged to fly over various parts of the reserve, where you can also land for a game walk and picnic lunch in the bush.  Not to be missed is a pass over the amazing work of Andrew Rogers, the world renowned artist who in 2010, in partnership with the Maasai, contributed three giant rock sculptures as part of his “Rhythms of Life” project—the largest outdoor contemporary land art undertaking in the world.  The scale and intricacy of these sculptures are astonishingly beautiful, especially when viewed from above—an experience you will never find inside a museum!


REST & REJUVENATE

  • Luxury Tented Suites: Campi ya Kanzi can accommodate up to 16 guests in six thatched roof luxury tented cottages, all amply spaced to ensure the privacy of each group, and each with a dedicated Maasai host.  All tents are designed with deep respect for the environment, fully solar powered and using only local materials such as lava rocks and grass, all positioned to provide panoramic sunrise and sunset views of the beautiful Chyulu Hills, Tsavo Hills and Mt. Kilimanjaro in the far distance.
  • Kanzi House: The main house at Campi ya Kanzi is bookable for single parties and can accommodate up to 10 guests.  Here you will stay with Samson Parashina—the camp’s head guide and also President of the Maasai Conservation Wilderness Trust—and having this young African leader as your host is an unbeatable opportunity to learn firsthand from one who is spearheading some of the most innovative conservation and community development work in the entire region.
  • Ithumba Camp:  Accommodations at Ithumba Camp are limited—just four en-suite canvas tents with thatched roofs and hot water—so reservations should be made far in advance.   Ithumba is self-catering, but offers a charmingly rustic lounge and common space where guests can gather and prepare meals.  Choose a guide who will arrange all catering and logistical details, so you can spend your time enjoying the real reason you came to Ithumba—to play with the elephants!

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Both Campi ya Kanzi and Ithumba Camp are open year round.  Temperatures in the area are comfortable, with daytime highs averaging around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, falling to 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
  • The best time to visit Campi ya Kanzi depends on what you most want to do and see.  The dry season months of July through early October are cooler and comfortable, and offer some of the best game viewing.  There are short rains in November/December, followed by particularly lush landscapes and warmer temperatures in January and February. The long rainy season from March to early June brings heavier precpitation at night, but the surrounding hills are also in full bloom and the elephant population is at its peak.
  • Campi ya Kanzi charges a conservation fee of $150 per guest per night.  The entirety of this fee is invested back into the local community via conservation and community development projects run by the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

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