Visiting countries that are known for famine and suffering isn’t easy, and recently tourism in Kenya has also been hit hard by fears of Ebola (unfounded as no cases have been reported) and lack of security.
Kenya has a wealth of wonderful attractions which hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world enjoy, and action is being taken to ensure that visitors’ safety and security is well taken care of by the government. The number of incidents of insecurity in which tourists get caught up is actually very minimal in comparison to other holiday destinations and there is no reason why visitors should not be able to enjoy a safe and memorable safari.
A holiday in Kenya contributes to the local economy and helps the native population improve their living conditions; making such a trip is certainly worth consideration. The Porini project in Kenya is a perfect example of tourism that ‘gives back’. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1963, tourism has been the mainstay of Kenya’s economy and offers tourists an ideal combination of beach holiday and wildlife safari. But its very success has also had a negative impact on the country’s natural resources. Too many safari vehicles, often queuing one behind the other in the main wildlife parks have tended to chase the animals away from their natural habitats. Plus increasing ‘fragmentation’ of farming lands has led to a situation where the local tribes have been forced away from their traditional grazing areas.
In an effort to ‘give something back’ to the community an innovative eco tourism project was launched in 2000. Jake Grieves-Cook, a Kenya citizen and lifelong campaigner for animal conservation, is Managing Director of Gamewatchers Safaris, a Kenyan safari company, and established the Porini Safari Camps to work in partnership with rural landowners and communities living alongside the National Parks and Game Reserves. Porini’s objectives are to enable the indigenous Maasai people to derive benefits in return for conserving wildlife. To achieve these ideals, Porini enters into lease agreements with landowners in order to establish a “Conservation Area” on their land and then develops the infrastructure to include access roads, a network of game-viewing tracks, waterholes, campsites and tourist facilities. The community is given help to utilise the land and wildlife as a resource and in return receives economic benefits including income, employment and education.
Porini now has four award winning safari camps bordering the Maasai Mara and Amboseli Game Reserves and in Laikipia on the slopes of Mount Kenya.
Porini means “in the wilds” in Kiswahili and all the camps are located in exclusive conservancies that are well away from mass-market tourism.
Porini also run the unique Nairobi Tented Camp, offering guests an authentic safari just minutes form Nairobi city centre.
Porini sells itself as an authentic camping experience with spacious guest tents, all comfortably equipped with real beds and en suite bathrooms. All the Porini camps are run on environmentally sound principles specially designed to have minimum impact, with no permanent structures, using solar power for electricity and heating water with special eco-friendly sustainable charcoal briquettes.
The game drives will take place in the early morning and late afternoon travelling in a sturdy 4×4 vehicle in the company of an experienced Maasai tracker as well a knowledgeable driver-guide. At around 6 pm you will be taken to a secluded spot, with stunning views, where staff had gone on ahead and prepared a choice of ‘sundowners’ around a fire, a truly magical moment.
Camp staff are all incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. They are keen to explain to guests how Porini had helped them and their families over the years by helping to build and establish a school, repairing their windmill pump and deepening an existing watering hole for the community livestock. The local people now have security and peace of mind and don’t have to worry about drought or unemployment.
This understanding of local issues will help environmentalists realise that Porini Camp offers a refreshing contrast to the mass-market safari holidays and gives the eco tourist an awareness of conservation at grass roots level.
For more information on Gamewatchers Safaris and their Porini Camps, visit http://www.porini.com/.
Silver Travel Advisors members can enjoy 10% discount on the Porini Camps nightly rate when booking a safari of 5 nights or more via Wayne and mentioning this offer at time of booking.