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Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge - Laikipia, Kenya

The award winning Eco-Lodge - Laikipia, Kenya

A much lauded eco-lodge, Il Ngwesi is utterly unique. Constructed by the local Maasai community using age-old skills and locally sustainable wildwood, it offers stunning views, impeccable service and innovative cuisine.

The area itself is wild and beautiful and provides a much-needed haven for 250 species of birds and 50 species of mammal, amongst which, elephant, buffalo, Grevy's zebra and greater kudu abound. It also promises sightings of those species that are only found in the north of Kenya, such as gerenuk. The wilderness is also rapidly gaining a reputation for big cats and the elusive wild dog, which was thought for many years to be extinct.

Accommodating consists of six double thatched bandas, remarkable open-plan structures on stilts, incorporating huge branches and open-air bathrooms. Two (nos. 1 and 5) have ‘star beds' which can be pulled out on to decks under the night sky. There's a delightful swimming pool and wonderful views with guaranteed wildlife that includes elephants. Included in the price are night drives, bush walks, riverside breakfasts and climbing the Mukogodo escarpment that faces the lodge also included are visited to the lodges heavily guarded rhino sanctuary, where the first transplant from Lewa, a male called Omni is tame enough for very close encounters through the wire. Extras include a goat dinner at the cultural village and wild dog tracking.

Over the past twelve years the Il Ngwesi has won the following awards:
British Airways award (1999) - "Tourism for Tomorrow Award" 2nd position in Africa.
Travel news (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003) - "Quest for the best Awards" voted as best self-catering camp by readers of travel news.
Harpers & Queen travel awards (2002) - "the 150 best places on earth"
David Sheldrick's Awards - "Conservation Endeavour" voted as best conservation biodiversity.
UNDP Equator initiative conservation Award (2002)
First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards (2006) In Association with:
Responsibletravel.com, The Times, World Travel Market, Geographical Magazine, Voted Winner "Best Small Hotel"
Global Vision Award - Winner green/eco Hotel Initiative - By Travel & Leisure
Il Ngwesi is a member of Ecotourism Kenya & have been awarded a Bronze rating in recognition of their efforts to further sustainable tourism through preservation of Kenya's environmental / cultural heritage.

Location
The Laikipia plateau, which is a pristine wilderness area, approximately 100 km north of Mount Kenya, equates to that of the world-renowned Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania; and, as such, is larger than many of Kenya's national parks. The Laikipia Plateau extends west from the foothills of Mount Kenya to the wall of the Rift Valley at Lake Baringo, and north from Nanyuki and Nyahururu to the lands of Samburu and Isiolo. It merges with the Lerochi Plateau south of Maralal. In the north the edge of the plateau drops abruptly to the northern frontier district. The land is generally flat (1800 m and 2100 m).

Kenya hotels and accommodation
Amongst the wide range of Kenya hotels, some make the ideal Kenya safari destination. Choose a safari lodge, safari hotel, bush camp, luxury lodge, safari camp, tented camp or bush lodge. National park accommodation usually takes the form of a traditional safari lodges or tented camps, but numerous other options exist on the park boundaries. Luxury lodges and luxury camp options are also offered in the private wildlife conservancies.

Background
The award winning Eco-Lodge was built in 1996 on a rocky outcrop in an area of the Group Ranch set aside purely for Wildlife conservation. The more than one decade old Il Ngwesi group ranch has been driven by a vision to integrate community development & sustainable environmental management. The core ideal is to use environment as a means to improve the livelihood of the people through eco-friendly activities that conserve wildlife & its habitat & uphold the Maasai culture. This drive led the community to set aside 80% of its land for conservation activities in which a superb up market eco-lodge was set up on a rocky outcrop. The lodge hosted its first guests in December 1996. This was realized with the kind assistance of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and USAID which funded the construction through Kenya Wildlife Service. The eco lodge built on a local design is constructed from local materials & is solar powered. The income from the venture supports community projects of education, water, health infrastructure, environmental conservation & preservation of culture which are directed at achieving our mission of improving livelihoods of our community members.

The vast plateau of Laikipia rolls from the foothills of Mount Kenya to the arid deserts of what used to be known as the NFD, the Northern Frontier District. Wild and very beautiful it is not part of a national park or reserve, but is mostly occupied by large cattle ranches dating from the colonial period, when vast areas were sold at low cost as part of the ‘soldier-settlement scheme' to soldiers British soldiers returning from the first world war.

Home of community tourism
These days, cattle-ranching has largely been replaced by ‘community tourism', an entirely new concept in Kenyan tourism, which represents a unique cooperation between the local people (Rendille, Samburu and more) and the old ranchers - who represent the new face of Kenyan ‘eco tourism'. As a result, visitors can enjoy not only an exclusive and private wilderness, but also pursuits such as walking, biking, camel-riding and horse-riding, none of which are permitted in the national parks).

More endangered species than anywhere in East Africa
As a result of its long exclusion from the normal tourist circuits, and its isolation in the arid north of the country, the region offers a real and pristine wilderness experience. More endangered species can be seen here than anywhere else in East Africa. Here too, the wildlife densities rank second only to the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve.

Elephants, Grevy's zebra, rhino and oryx
Half of Kenya's black rhino are protected in the Solio, Lewa, Ol Jogi, Ol Pejeta and Ol Ari Ng'iro sanctuaries. The area also has largest elephant herds (over 3,200) outside the national parks, and is one of the few places in Kenya to see Jackson's hartebeest. Laikipia is also home to about 25% of the world's population of rare Grevy's zebra alongside such other rare species as; wild dog and the semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope. This is also the best place to view such northern species as; reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich, Beisa oryx and gerenuk, while the numerous impala and Grant's gazelle ensure healthy numbers of lion, leopard and cheetah.

Accommodation
Accommodating consists of six double thatched bandas, remarkable open-plan structures on stilts, incorporating huge branches and open-air bathrooms. Two (nos. 1 and 5) have ‘star beds' which can be pulled out on to decks under the night sky. Each cottage has a spacious bedroom, a private verandah and a spacious open-air bathroom.

Dining and bars
The central buildings offer a spacious lounge, dining and bar area, all of which offer spectacular views.

Activities
There's a delightful swimming pool and wonderful views with guaranteed wildlife that includes elephants. Included in the price are night drives, bush walks, riverside breakfasts and climbing the Mukogodo escarpment that faces the lodge also included are visited to the lodges heavily guarded rhino sanctuary, where the first transplant from Lewa, a male called Omni is tame enough for very close encounters through the wire. Extras include a goat dinner at the cultural village and wild dog tracking.

The Eco Lodge Activities
Hiking Olmaroroi hill
Game drives
Relaxing at the Lodge
A visit to the rhino sanctuary
Bush dinners
Picnic breakfast
Nature walks
Bird watching
Visit Maasai Cultural Manyatta

Wildlife
Over the last decade, the number of wildlife has increased considerably compared to early 90's when poaching had decimated almost all the wildlife in this area especially the African elephant & rhinoceros. Today, as a result of improved security, plenty of wildlife is viewed within the Il Ngwesi group ranch. Elephants spend a greater proportion of time in Il Ngwesi, thanks to all our community members setting aside their precious piece of land for conservation. When wildlife comes back, it's really time to celebrate for all of us.

We are delighted to announce that during the year 2007/2008 guests have enjoyed some of the best wildlife viewing since the programme began. Lions, wild dogs, hyenas, cheetahs & leopards were all spotted in the conservation area. They join a long list of other species that have slowly increased in number within the ranch since the mid 1990's. Commonly seen animals include dik dik, waterbuck, impala, giraffe, eland, gerenuk, & kudu, to mention but a few. Elephant & buffalo are regularly seen in big herds. The ranch has also been home to high profile wildlife translocations of rhino from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Omni, the hand-reared black rhino, continues to enjoy special protection on the ranch along with two white rhino's. Finally the endangered Grevy Zebras, more numerous in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, can now also be seen within the ranch. The ranch is also home to over 250 bird species for the lovers of birds.

Animals move in and out of the conservation area both north towards Samburu & south into the well known Lewa Wildlife Conservancy & Borana. This large, mainly contiguous area is providing


Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge - Laikipia • Exclusive Safari Lodge • Kenya Hotels, Safari Lodges & Tented Camps
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