IL NGWESI – TWENTY YEARS OF SUCCESS FOR THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY
(Posted 05th November 2016)
In 1996, encouraged by leading conservationist Ian Craig of the neighbouring Lewa Conservancy, the elders of the Maasai community Il Ngwesi took a leap of faith: to move a large number of cattle – for centuries the traditional lifeblood of the Maasai – off a section of its land, turn it over to wildlife, and build an upmarket eco-lodge.
In the intervening years, the Il Ngwesi adventure has proved an inspiration, as the first of what is now a family of community conservancies in northern Kenya connected by the Northern Rangelands Trust and supporting both local wildlife and communities. On 29th of October Il Ngwesi celebrated the 20th anniversary of the opening of the fabulous eco-lodge.
The initiative’s successes notably include the return of wildlife to the area, now including some of Africa’s most endangered species such as the Grevy’s Zebra, the African Wild Dog, aka Hunting or Painted Dog and other iconic predators such as the leopard, cheetah, lion and hyena. Visitors also regularly see elephants, giraffe in large numbers, kudu, eland and many others. Income from visitors to the lodge has helped to provide much needed funds for the development of the community, including a secondary school, a new health clinic and school bursaries. A partnership with VSO in Kenya funded by the EU has also supported women to set up a local and national beadwork business.
In August 2015, Il Ngwesi embarked on a new era under the direction of a new board. The lodge, designed by Simon Douglas-Dufresne – has been described as ‘one of the most exemplary examples of deadwood architecture in the world’ and has six bandas open to the bush as well as a freeform swimming pool, a water hole and a large main house with views stretching north as far as the eye can see.
Since 2015, the lodge has been completely refurbished, has a new website, a newly graded airstrip, and visitors can now enjoy beauty treatments and beading workshops. The water and solar infrastructure is in the process of being upgraded and plans are in place to introduce night game viewing. The team continues to improve the visitor experience, which already includes rhino walks, visits to the cultural village, and of course a menu of game viewing including walks, drives and sundowners. At the end of the day, nothing feels more perfect than watching the sun go down and retiring to a large four poster bed under the stars.
Il Ngwesi is a Maasai owned and run eco-tourism initiative in Laikipia, Kenya. It remains the only upmarket lodge in Kenya genuinely owned and run by the local Maasai community without leasing arrangements with external individuals or businesses of any kind. Visitors can relax, enjoy some of Africa’s most iconic species and experience the local culture first hand. As it enters its third decade, Il Ngwesi is looking forward to a sustainable future working closely with partners and friends who, like Il Ngwesi, remain committed to ethical tourism, community development and wildlife conservation.
Until 31 March 2017, those wishing to enjoy this unique experience for themselves can benefit from a Special 20th Anniversary 3-night package of US$650 per adult based on two sharing or a special 3 night family package of US$1900 based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing. Rates include all food, soft drinks, game drives/walks, cultural village visits. Rates do not include flights, transfers, conservation fees or alcohol.
Bookings can be made before 31 December 2016 by contacting email@example.com and quoting Il Ngwesi at 20.
For more details on the above email firstname.lastname@example.org