Tag Archive for: #celebratingchangemakers


The final part of 6

Closing the curtain of the Changemaker Series is a highlight of two 2022 Eco Warrior Awards Recognitions. They stand as excellent icons and encouragement to focus on a specific area of need with intention, consistency and diligence as tourism, conservation, and communities continually interlink.


This category aimed at celebrating community tourism initiatives that are making efforts in promoting local community development. This could be through effective stakeholder engagement, community involvement, good governance, and implementation of community development projects. In addition, it sought to highlight best practices in the management of community tourism initiatives as a driving factor for transformation at the community level.

The community owned and run Il Ngwesi Eco Lodge, received special recognition in this award category.


The proceeds from the tourism activities at Il Ngwesi Eco Lodge, located in Il Ngwesi Conservancy Laikipia, are channeled to the community through development projects. The seven villages in the group ranch are the beneficiaries of the projects. In each of the villages, the projects have put up a primary school, a reliable water point for the school, and a health clinic for all i.e., Ntalabany Dispensary.

At Ntalabany Dispensary

The Il Ngwesi community approves all key decisions made in project management during their annual general meetings and intermittent gatherings. The leadership team is elected based on representation from all seven villages, following guidance from the Community Land Act 2016. Women are encouraged to take on leadership roles, with prominent positions such as Vice Chair and chair of the development sub-committee held by women.

The lodge is governed by committees that include community representatives, with delegated mandates. The main committee is the Il Ngwesi Community Trust, which oversees natural resources and community matters. The Il Ngwesi Company Limited manages the community tourism business and other income-generating projects. The community plays a significant role in the governance of natural resources in the Il Ngwesi landscape. The lodge’s leadership is guided by the community constitution and 5-year strategic plans.

 In a village, a secondary school has been established to provide education to all students in the community. The project has received significant support from donations and partnerships. One of the initiatives is an education support program, which provides quarterly bursaries to students in high school, college, and university. Over 1 million Kenya shillings have been offered in recent years, encouraging the students to pursue and continue their education.


The Days for Girls Chumvi Self Enterprise sewing center at the ranch offers women an alternative source of income and economic engagement. It features a display space for sewn products, a children’s rest area, and a soap-making activity that generates income. By providing these opportunities, the ranch helps diversify livelihoods in a primarily pastoralist community and empowers women to support themselves financially.

In 2020, the lodge focused on developing women’s leadership by training over 20 women as trainers of trainers. They also established a girls’ center that produces sanitary towels for schoolgirls in the community. Additionally, the lodge contributed to microfinance for women in the community and connected persons with disabilities to county health and NHIF programs, resulting in some receiving national disability cards.

See here the Il Ngwesi Experience.

The eco-lodge has partnered with the Northern Rangelands Trust to assess and develop a water supply for the conservancy, with the goal of improving water access for nearby villages. Il Ngwesi has also initiated a sustainable bio-gas energy production project within the community to reduce reliance on firewood for energy. This project began in 2022.

Interact with Il Ngwesi Eco Lodge

Website: http://ilngwesi.com/content/visit/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063522491386 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IlngwesiL?s=20

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/llngwesi/

Fiona Ngesa, the Ag. Director Marketing Development at Kenya Tourism Board receiving the award on behalf of Il Ngwesi Eco Lodge

The Kenya Tourism Board sponsored this award category.


This award category aimed to recognize the accommodation facilities on the Kenyan coast that are involved in actions, projects, initiatives, best practices, or campaigns inclined towards conserving marine life and ecosystem restoration within their areas of operation.

The Serena Beach and Resort Spa received special recognition and was awarded for their remarkable efforts in marine conservation.


Serena Beach Resort & Spa runs a Turtle Conservation Program to protect sea turtles that face extinction due to nest losses caused by tidal flooding, predators, and human activities. The program focuses on providing a safe haven for sea turtles to nest and transfer eggs from insecure nests to their hatchery. Since the program’s inception in 1993 to June 2022, 573 turtle nests have been protected, and 74,089 eggs have been secured at the hatcheries, with 63,217 turtle hatchlings released into the Indian Ocean. The species involves are the Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, and Olive Ridley Turtle. They responded to the alarm raised by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and other ecological reports that turtles faced extinction due to the loss of nests. Destructive fishing practices are a significant threat to sea turtle survival, but the resort’s outreach training has raised awareness among fishermen. The program has helped maintain the ocean ecosystem and preserve biodiversity, including seagrass beds, sea sponges, coral reefs, and jellyfish populations.

cute baby sea turtles

Serena Beach has been promoting environmental responsibility and marine conservation by taking conscious efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastics. Initiatives like transitioning to dispenser bottles, replacing plastic straws with paper straws, eliminating single-use plastic bags, and using glass recyclable mineral water bottles have resulted in a significant reduction of plastic waste. Additionally, they have created awareness about the threat of marine debris and the importance of conservation through a human-size chess board themed around Marine Life Vs Life Cycle of a Butterfly. Furthermore, they offer Architectural, Cultural & Conservation Tours as Guest Activities, publish children’s books based on Serena’s conservation activities and conduct monthly beach clean-ups.

Human sized chess board at Serena Beach Resort & Spa

Serena Beach has implemented a community participatory program that provides education and financial incentives to fishermen and the community around Shanzu Bay, Mtwapa, Kikambala, and Kenamai beaches. The program pays cash for egg and nest reports and protection and covers the cost of maintaining the hatchery and engaging a local Marine Conservationist to handle the process of transferring eggs from insecure sites and the hatching process. The fishermen are paid for reporting and protecting nests, allowing them to increase their income and benefit their families. Additionally, Serena Beach offers lectures on turtle conservation to guests and provides training to staff and communities to create an understanding on environmental responsibility. Schools and education institutions are also able to enhance their education and knowledge of these species through engagement with the Marine Conservationists.

Local community engagement;



Get in touch with Serena Beach & Resort Spa

Website: www.serenahotels.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SerenaHotels

Twitter: https://twitter.com/serenahotels

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/serenahotels

This award category was proudly sponsored by the Conversation Alliance of Kenya.



-End of Series-



This award category recognized efforts made by tour operators to promote community development by fostering business inclusivity and involving top management directly in their initiatives.

Gamewatchers Safaris Ltd emerged as the leading tour operator in Kenya in this category.

Responding to local challenges faced in areas of operation for tour operators is a way of promoting community development. Gamewatchers support a number of initiatives aiming to improve the lives of local communities. They also facilitate opportunities for visitors to make contributions.



Let’s explore some of those initiatives they have undertaken.

They have contributed to the local community development in a number of ways;

  1. Education
  • Smart Learning Project; Through this project, Gamewatchers Safaris Ltd provides solar-powered tablets which complement the Competency-Based Curriculum system. Over 2,000 pupils in 5 schools are in this project. This project extends to adults in vocational training regardless of gender.

Figure 1; Digital learning with the local community

  • The Maarifa Education Conservation Awareness Program; This program provides education support and opportunity through the provision of bursaries. The bursaries cover the costs of uniforms, books, school activities/trips and solar lamps. Around 120 students around Selenkay and Ol Kinyei conservancies benefit from this. The students are also exposed to conservation and wildlife knowledge at a young age.
  • Ol Kinyei Bursary Fund: The fund aims to improve access to education, improve gender equality in education in the community, assist transitions to the next level of education, and improve retention and completion rates for schooling. They are supporting some families in Ol Kinyei with the fund to cover necessities such as uniforms, books and school activities They also support school rehabilitation projects. They have supported over 40 families with school fees from primary to tertiary levels of education.

14 community rangers from Ol Kinyei Conservancy graduated in late February 2022;



  • Koiyaki Guiding School Scholarship Fund; It was set up to create opportunities for promising youth who show a passion for wildlife and conservation, but who may not be able to afford the school fees to train as guides. They also invite guests to donate to the fund.

Figure 2; Photo session with newly graduated guides

2. Water, Health and Sanitation

In regards to water supply, Gamewatchers drilled solar-powered boreholes in collaboration with the Davis & Shirtliff Group in Selenkay villages and donated water tanks in the Mara in collaboration with the Mara Project.

Figure 3; Waterhole: Full Length Film

Here is a   short documentary in partnership with Davis & Shirtliff and World Wildlife Fund on the water supply project; https://youtu.be/IPirFsdzsIY





For health and sanitation, they have constructed toilets to schools near Selenkay and Ol Kinyei Conservancies.

Within Ol Kinyei Conservancy, they have organized medical outreach activities on hygiene, maternity, and cleft lip surgery. In addition, working with MadPad, they have created awareness of menstrual hygiene and issued 427 reusable sanitary towels.

In support of economic development within the community, projects such as beekeeping, lion-proofing livestock bomas, and the installation of the solar-powered milk cooling plant have been put in place and are active. The milk coolant is benefiting 18 women while the beekeeping is supporting 14 women & some youth groups.

Women Self-Help Group receives Milk Coolant; https://youtu.be/nqW_6YQKf-4

Figure 4; Opening Ceremony of the Milk Coolant

In order to successfully carry out these initiatives, Gamewatchers employ strategies that give room for more inclusivity of the local communities. They are open in the planning, implementation and review stages of the projects. They encourage participation of the locals by using open meeting spaces and communicating with community leaders to invite more members of the community to take part.

Gamewatchers view the community as crucial stakeholders and consider their interests and needs in projects. This is a step to achieving a holistic impact on the community with corporate social responsibility or community-focus activities. Group ranch committees have youth and women represented in the meetings they hold to discuss issues, updates and potential projects. The group ranch officials and committee members also meet with top Gamewatchers management to give updates and development around the projects.


Connect with Gamewatchers Safaris.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gamewatchers

Twitter: https://twitter.com/porinisafaris?s=20

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/porinicamps/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@PoriniCamps


At the 2022 Eco Warrior Awards Gala Ceremony;


The Best Tour Operator in Promoting Community Development award category was sponsored by the Kenya Association of Tour Operators.


PART 4 0F 6

This award category called out to accommodation facilities to recognize that promoted conservation in various tourism destinations in Kenya. The specific measure was through securing critical wildlife habitats by establishing conservancies and paying lease fees to the land owners. Thereby, highlighting the benefits of tourism to community development projects and conservation, through the establishment of conservancies.

Figure 1 2022 Winners, Basecamp Explorers Kenya & Saruni Camps

Ensuring proper management of land and resources in conservancies is crucial in promoting healthy ecosystems that support wildlife, tourism, livestock, and human needs. Basecamp Explorers Kenya & Saruni Camps established and run two conservancies; Naibosho Conservancy and Pardamant Conservation Area.

  1. Naibosho Conservancy– Situated in the Greater Mara Region, it was carved out of the Koyaki-Lemek Group Ranch and Pardamant Conservation area making up over 50,000 acres of land. It is to the North of Maasai Mara National Reserve and extends the Mara ecosystem. It plays a role in ensuring the protection of the delicate Mara ecosystem. It is set as a community-owned conservancy.

Recognizing the key role local communities play in wildlife and landscape conservation, Basecamp came to an understanding with land owners to give part of their land for conservation. It supports approximately 500 families with income that facilitates their livelihood.

2. Pardamant Conservation Area– with approximately 850 landowners on 26,000 acres of land, the conservancy takes a different approach. The land is leased for wildlife protection. The rangeland is used by humans, cattle and wildlife.

For harmonious coexistence, there are certain measures that have been put in place. For instance;

  • Predator-proofing bomas, which ensures wild animals such as lions are kept at bay from livestock. Around 41 predator proofs have been set up.
  • De-fencing plots have opened up 2863 acres of land to wildlife. This has allowed free roaming of wildlife. As a result, there have been recent sightings of wild animals thought to have disappeared from the region, such as wild dogs and giraffes.

Tourism Benefits

Distributing tourism benefits towards community development is seen in their numerous community-focus projects and initiatives. Basecamp Explorer Foundation, the not-for-profit partner facilitates and administrates the enterprises’ community projects. They include;

  • The Bonga Project– This works towards sensitizing the local communities to view the girl child as valuable and important by empowering out-of-school adolescent girls for sustainable livelihoods, by giving them access to education.
  • Community Institution and Leadership (Green Villages)- This encourages the use of renewable energy and other livelihood techniques that conserves the environment. It also builds the capacity of community civil societies. The establishment of Olare – Orok community-based development organization, for example, represents Olare Village in resource mobilization, planning, development, and partnership.
  • Basecamp Maasai Brand– This community-owned handicraft center with approximately 160 women, empowers Maasai women and preserves the Maasai beading tradition. Through this initiative, there are positive outcomes for the local community among them; the drilling of 3 boreholes, a water pan, a 10,000 liters concrete water tank, financial support in terms of school fees, and shopping essentials for children. As a result of this initiative, 50% of these women have installed solar panels in their homes.
  • Employment of women guides– Basecamp Explorers Kenya & Saruni Camps has employed approximately 40% of female guides in the Mara.
  • Education-The Wildlife Tourism College of Maasai Mara (WTC) is being built on the legacy of the Koiyaki Guiding School (KGS) which has graduated over 350 trained Maasai safari guides since its opening in 2005. KGS has produced many of the guides that work for Basecamp Explorers & Saruni Camps.


“Ultimately conservation

is about people. If you

don’t have sustainable

development around wildlife parks,

the people will have no interest in

them and the parks will not


– Nelson Mandela

Local Employment

For development projects undertaken in areas inhabited by pastoralists, input from the community is acquired as the local knowledge is valued. This gives an opportunity to engage the community in decision-making processes to guide the design of community-led conservation and the benefits to be acquired. Basecamp Explorer Kenya and Basecamp Foundation have employed 90% of the staff from the local community, with about 30% of the total being females. The staff are involved in high-level decision-making as a number of them are in charge of the camps and the foundation projects.


Stay updated with Basecamp Explorers Kenya & Saruni Camps;
Website: https://www.basecampexplorer.com/kenya/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BasecampExplorer
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/basecampexplorer/  

Watch a video clip from the 2022 award ceremony where sentiments were shared on winning the award


This award category was proudly sponsored by Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association.


PART 3 0F 6


Under the category that sought to highlight some of the innovative and creative ways that accommodation facilities used to keep afloat during the pandemic, the Governors’ Camp Collection emerged as a winner. They have demonstrated their intentional efforts in supporting communities and conservation despite the tough situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism industry was severely affected by the global pandemic that slowed down businesses, restricted movement for approximately 2 to 3 years. All parts of tourism’s vast value chain were affected. The effect could be felt across economies, livelihoods, public services, and opportunities on all continents.

How then was the Governors’ Camp collection able to stay afloat through the difficulties?
Some of their properties were inevitably closed. A few remained open due to their proximity to Nairobi which is the capital city, and those run by green energy which is more cost effective than those that use non-renewable energy sources. These include the Little Governors’ Camp, Governors’ Mugie House and Loldia House.

Some of the initiatives that helped them stay afloat are;
– The travel products and services were diversified and highly discounted
– The domestic market was their primary target
– The Collection received support from residents who have interacted with them before as well
– Quarantine and hygiene measures were put in place by their in-camp doctor, Dr. James, and co-founder Dr. Grammaticas. This facilitated clean and hygienic standards for both the guests and staff.
During this period, all staff were retained although salary cuts were made across human resources.

The longest-running tented safari camp property in Maasai Mara has core pillars that help them achieve their vision, among them a Pioneering Spirit and Community. The collection takes into account the importance of local communities as key tourism stakeholders.
The camp dedicates time, energy and resources to support local communities in the following ways;

Figure 1: Offloading food items for distribution.

– Large-scale food drives: They supplied food items to vulnerable communities in 2 food drives. Approximately 163,889 kgs of food were distributed to about 36,000 people.



Figure 2: The donated desktop computers at TAFA Community Centre




School set up: They built two new dormitories at Enkereri School in the Mara which now allows 160 children to board.

They have also constructed Four classroom blocks (with 17 classes)
– Their continuous support is seen as they provide stationery items to the schools periodically.
– They have partnered with the TAFA Community Center for disadvantaged children in Naivasha. They regularly support their events as well as provide educational trips for the kids. They have also donated desktop computers.

– As part of the school set-up program, the governors’ camp has also constructed, a library, accommodation facility for 6 teachers, a dining hall and pit latrines at Mara Rianda Primary School.
– Governors Camp goes ahead to provide scholarships for exceptional students through secondary education whose families would otherwise not be able to afford for them to complete their schooling.

Conservation of the environment and wildlife. 

Figure 3; In camp reforestation

– They set up a new wildlife club at Mara Rianda School, Masai Mara to encourage conservation actions and increase awareness.
– They boosted their tree-planting efforts.

Figure 4; Releasing a trapped snake that was identified during L. Naivasha clean up exercise

– They have removed an extensive length of the invasive weed Datura stramonium in the Mara.
– Their teams regularly head out to remove ghost nets from Lake Naivasha, and on one occasion they were able to save the life of an entangled African rock python

– They initiated a seed balling program from Governors’ Balloon Safaris- and have scattered over 25kg of indigenous African wild olive seeds in an attempt to protect the riverine forest habitat.

Figure 5; Feeding of a recovering bird


They support the work of the Kenya Bird of Prey Trust, the Mara-Meru Cheetah Program, the Mara Predator Conservation Program, The Mara Elephant Project, The Mara Raptor Project, Eburru Rafiki, The Rhino Ark/Calgary Zoo Mountain Forest Partnership, The Lake Naivasha Riparian Association, The Grevy’s Zebra Trust and Mugie Conservancy.


They communicate and share their community and conservation efforts across their digital platforms.
Connect with them on social media platforms;





The Governors’ Little Governors’ and Il Moran Governors’ Camps are in the Ecorating Certification scheme.
They were accorded the Condé Nast Travelers Choice Award 2022.
They were well represented at the Eco Warrior 2022 award ceremony when they received their award trophy, see here;


The Best Accommodation Facility: Responding to Covid 19 Impacts category was sponsored by the GreenTour Kenya Project.


The 2022 Eco Warrior Award Winners- Changemaker series continues!

PART 2 0F 6


Porini Amboseli Camp located in Selenkey Conservancy emerged as a leading example in this category that sought to recognize accommodation facilities that positively impact sustainable development in destinations where they conduct business through collaborations with impact partners. Impact partners are direct stakeholders of tourism in this case. They can be funding sponsors, local communities, tourists, etc. The partnership strives to have social, environmental or economic goals in line with tourism.

Porini Amboseli has demonstrated key partnerships to achieve success in their line of work and their impacts. Let’s take a look.

Collaborations explored include;


Figure 1: Iloirero Primary School around Selenkay Conservancy students using tablets to access the libraries on the server.

 1. The PD Foundation, and WiLearn4Life collaboration on the smart learning project. The aim of the project is to ensure that students in remote areas with limited access to the internet use the server to connect to the diverse library including the Kenyan education curriculum. This equipment includes portable solar panels, tablets, headsets, projectors, etc.

2. EarthAcre and Harvard University Davies Lab Collaboration. They use cutting-edge technology to measure carbon credits using remote sensing and are developing a pioneering biodiversity credit. They are conducting exercises that will allow them to further incentivize eco-system health and carbon sequestration and bring greater income to communities at the conservancy to improve livelihoods and ensure the area is protected for the long haul.


Figure 2: Carbon and biodiversity project around Selenkay Conservancy.

3. The Derek Moore Foundation, Tribes Foundation and Guardian project collaboration. This focuses on beekeeping engaging the youth as an alternative source of income. The project encourages habitat and bees’ preservation as well as cultural continuity of the use of honey.


Figure 3: Lenkisem Beekeepers youth/women group

4. The Maarifa Foundation collaboration. They assist in bursary support for students. The foundation also conducts conservation focus activities such as sustainable gardening. Here’s a video highlighting the delivery of the financial support.

LINK: https://youtu.be/8msrJ9aWI4U

Through the collaborations undertaken Porini Amboseli Camp balances the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability.

The local community is a direct beneficiary of the implemented collaborations. The children of Lenkisem and Iloirero Primary schools are the beneficiary of the smart learning project. Approximately 42 tablets and headsets were delivered to the schools. Students receiving school fees support through the Maarifa Foundation bursaries and the camp’s scholarships are also benefitting. The carbon and biodiversity program will benefit the wildlife, biodiversity, and greatly the people of Selenkay Group ranch.

Porini Amboseli Camp shows that it is possible to achieve milestones in sustainable tourism through collaborations with different parties.

Visit their facility or join in on any of their collaboration ventures!


Visit their platforms to know more about them.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gamewatchers

Twitter: https://twitter.com/porinisafaris?s=20

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/porinicamps/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@PoriniCamps

Check out their video from the Eco Warrior 2022 award ceremony here;



The Best Accommodation Facility: Collaboration with Impact Partners Award Category was sponsored by Tourism Fund.



The 15th Eco Warrior Award focused on Rethinking Tourism: Celebrating Change Makers. The event recognized various categories of tourism that had been carried out sustainably, innovatively, and differently. As part of our Changemaker series, we are thrilled to showcase the winners of this prestigious award and their exemplary efforts toward promoting responsible tourism in Kenya.

PART 1 0F 6

Best Accommodation in Communities and Cultural Preservation- Basecamp Explorer Kenya & Saruni Camps

This award sub-category was looking at identifying accommodations that seek to promote local and authentic cultural experiences, preserve the local sites important to the local culture or history, develop and manage tourism enterprises within their areas of operation. The Basecamp Explorer Kenya and Saruni Camps have demonstrated with responsible tourism practices, the capability and desire to promote and sustain the culture of the local community they operate around. Let’s explore the efforts they have made to contribute to communities and cultural preservation.

In mitigating the negative impacts of tourism on host communities and helping to maintain their culture, they;
– Initiated a young professional club and the local radio station, to keep the youth informed and interested in local and world events.
– Support the Wildlife Tourism College of Maasai Mara to keep the youth educated.
– Support the women by employing them; approximately 40% of the women guides in the Mara.
– Regularly wear uniforms inspired by the Maasai culture and dedicate a day a week to wearing Maasai outfits.
– Run the Enjoolata Basecamp center, where they preserve and showcase artifacts and Maasai cultural items.

– Support the reforestation of the Mara to restore the natural heritage of the area.

In promoting the preservation of the local sites and culture to the guests, they;
– Have continuously run the Basecamp reforestation project since 2000. The locals have several sites along rivers and in the bush that have cultural/spiritual importance. The project assists in their preservation in identified areas such as the Pardamat Conservation Area and sections along the Talek River. See a short clip on the project;
– Conduct awareness raising with the locals to discourage practices such as deforestation that destroy natural heritage.

– Run the Enjoolata Information Centre which has different functions such as;
o Providing an incredible space to support cultural expression, education, and cultural exchange.
o Hosting guest activities that have cultural themes e.g., cultural weddings.
o Various pieces of decor within the camp reflect the local culture of the Maasai
– Take guests to the local market at Talek upon request, where they get an opportunity to experience the Maasai way of life.
– Provide guests with guidelines to be followed when interacting with the locals during the village visits, as a way of respecting the local customs.

Maasai Bracelet

On committing and contributing to the development of community-owned and managed tourism enterprises, they;
– Run the Basecamp Maasai Brand (BMB), a community-based handicraft workshop set up by the Basecamp Foundation to empower disadvantaged Maasai women while preserving the Maasai beading tradition.
– The Foundation provides a space to bead, training, and quality control, as well as outlets for women to sell their products, both locally and internationally. This has improved the livelihood of the 160 women they engage in the initiative. See a short video clip on the brand;

With these running projects, activities, and initiatives, they hold sustainability in value and as a practice. They strive to have a sustainable business model and management strategies in place that have positive impacts on people, the planet, and the business itself.

Excited to have won this award at the 2022 Eco Warrior Award Gala Ceremony, here’s what they shared;


Plan your visit to Basecamp Explorers and Saruni Camps!
Stay tuned to their activities online;
Website: https://www.basecampexplorer.com/kenya/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BasecampExplorer
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/basecampexplorer/  

The Best Accommodation Facility: Communities and Cultural Preservation Award Category was sponsored by East Africa Wildlife Society.