The true embodiment of an ecolodge, Koiyaki Wilderness Camp represents an intriguing new development in conservation tourism in Kenya and is the first community-owned ecolodge in the Maasai Mara. Situated in the northern sector of the reserve, the lodge offers a range of safari activities including wildlife drives and walking safaris, all accompanied by skilled local Maasai guides who have been trained at the nearby community-owned Koiyaki Guiding School.
The Koiyaki Wilderness Camp is owned and managed by the local Maasai community and has been formed with the objective of creating a community managed wildlife conservancy which will provide a sustainable income for the surrounding communities, delivering tangible benefits from conservation and ecotourism to the people who live in the area.
The Koiyaki wilderness camp was created in order to provide a source of sustainable revenue for the nearby Koiyaki Guiding School, which was opened in 2005 for the purpose of training local Maasia guides (men and women) in wildlife management, safari guiding and conservation.
The Guiding school admits up to 25 students each year who undertake an intensive training course with practical experience gained in the Koiyaki wilderness camp and other ecocamps in the region. Following graduation they find jobs within the Maasai Mara ecotourism industry and the benefits thereby flow locally to their families and wider communities.
The capital cost of building Koiyaki Guiding School and associated Wilderness Camp have largely been funded by the EU through the Community Development Trust Fund and Tourism Trust Fund of EU together with contributions from the Maasai Community, Tusk Trust (a UK based Charity), Campfire Conservation and many private donors. Ron Beaton who has been in the tourism industry for many years and also a champion of conservation is the prime mover in bringing this exciting project to fruition.
This camp was highly commended during the 2009 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards - organised by responsibletravel.com in association with The Daily Telegraph, World Travel Market and Geographical Magazine, of the Royal Geographical Society.
The Masai Mara is 270 miles from Nairobi (five hours by road). All weather air strip - less than an hour from Nairobi by plane. The school and Wilderness Camp site is approximately 10 kms west of the main Sekanani/ Narok road and 14 kms west of the Siana airstrip (serviced by scheduled Air Kenya flights). An airstrip adjoining the school is also available for charter flights.
A series of cottages built from ecologically sustainable materials by the local community offer spacious accommodation and en-suite bathroom facilities on a par with Kenya’s highest quality safari camps. Fresh water from a bore hole deep in the ground is filtered for guests and there is a wide selection of soft drinks, beer and wine available with meals.
Dining and bars
There is a central dining and bar area and all meals are created from locally sourced ingredients.
Koiyaki wilderness camp offers a range of fascinating activities for children including tracking with Maasai guides and bush picnics in remote corners of the conservancy.
What to see and do
Daily game drives are offered (private vehicles can also be arranged). Night game drives are also offered during which aardvarks, striped hyenas, honey badgers and the spotted eagle owl can be viewed. Guided walks, ornithological tours and nature trails can also be arranged, as can bush lunches, breakfasts and picnics.