With more than one billion international tourists now travelling the world each year, tourism has become a powerful force, making a genuine difference in the lives of millions of people. Sustainable tourism holds endless potential, so much so, the United Nations has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism.
A country that prides itself in protecting and maintaining the natural state of its local communities and leads the way in wildlife conservation and natural habitat sustainability is the magical land of Kenya.
To celebrate the International Year of Sustainable Tourism we have curated a list of Kenya’s leading five ecological offerings, across accommodation, activities and souvenirs, where travellers can make a real difference, while discovering Kenya:
Overlooking Nairobi National Park in a quiet and leafy setting, this Australian-owned lodge holds sustainability and eco-friendliness in high regard. Much of the hotel’s furniture is hand produced on site by Ololo’s skilled local carpenters; the natural water supply comes from the Ololo bore hole, which after filtering is suitable for drinking and the hotel’s restaurant crafts fresh daily set menus to reflect their philosophy of simple food while using the freshest, seasonal ingredients sourced from their own ‘shamba’ (vegetable garden). More: www.olololodge.com
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – Elephant Orphanage
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) is regarded as one of the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation programme in the world; this pioneering conservation organisation is proud to have saved over 150 orphaned baby elephants. DSWT’s elephant nursery is nestled within Nairobi National Park and is overseen by Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick, whose elephant experience spans a lifetime. It took Daphne nearly three decades of trial and error to perfect the milk formula and complex husbandry necessary to rear an orphaned infant African elephant. For a small donation, visitors can witness the elephants enjoying their mud baths and feedings. More: www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org
Karen Blixen Camp – Hospitality School and wildlife tours
Tucked in the pristine Mara North Conservancy in Masai Mara, the Karen Blixen Camp is an oasis amidst one of the most densely populated wildlife areas in the world. Amongst offering many responsible wildlife experiences for its guests, Karen Blixen Camp also homes the Karen Blixen Hospitality School offering professional and affordable education for the Masai youth to learn the principles of the classical and modern cuisine as well as a Forestry School providing vocational training for youth focusing on growing indigenous trees for the restoration of the Masai Mara. IT and language courses are offered to their staff and local community; visitors are even encouraged to hop in front of the chalkboard and teach a class of English, German or general IT-skills to local students. More: www.karenblixencamp.com
Tasty souvenir, with a difference
While venturing across Kenya, travellers might stumble upon some of the most creative pieces of human ingenuity dotting the land: beehive fences. While simple and relatively affordable to produce, the beehive fences are designed to serve two purposes at the same time: protecting crops and local agriculture from stampeding and invading elephants, and providing a quick way for the production of local honey. The hives’ interconnected swing design releases bees when elephants come into contact with them, scaring the giants away. The hub of this successful project is located at the Elephants and Bees Research Centre in Mwakoma Village. Purchasing this sweet elephant-friendly honey as a souvenir goes directly back in to research around understanding elephant behaviour to reduce damage from crop-raiding elephants. More: www.elephantsandbees.com
Great Plains Conservation
Experience an unparalleled adventure into one of the most iconic wildlife destinations on the planet while contributing directly to local conservation and communities. When guests stay in any one of Great Plains Conservation’s eco-luxury accommodation options not only will they be enjoying a myriad of activities including game drives, local village visits and a balloon flight to experience Kenya in eco-friendly style but they will be working with the pioneers of Kenyan eco-tourism in preserving wilderness, protecting wildlife and empowering people. More: www.greatplainsconservation.co
Ol Lentille Trust
The Ol Lentille Trust (OLT) is a partnership between the Masai and Samburu communities surrounding Ol Lentille Mountain, the highest point in Kenya’s Laikipi. The Trust supports conservation, education, healthcare and enterprise development in the area, including projects such as building and maintaining nursery, primary and secondary schools; employing and training assistant teachers, and providing school food and boarding facilities. OLT relies heavily on student sponsorship to provide for their boarders; in return OLT emails each individual sponsor a copy of the termly report card plus a personal letter from the student (three per year). Sponsors also receive an individual email from OLT each term explaining education issues, plus a photo of the sponsored student. Many sponsors come to visit their students in school or send letters of encouragement. More: www.ol-lentille.com