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Kenya A Commitment to Eco Tourism

Written by  Lisa Loverro

Africa-Sasaab SamburuAfter the unfortunate incident at the Westgate Mall on September 21, 2013, the risk to the country’s tourism industry was of major concern to its top officials. Tourism generates 14% of Kenya’s GDP and employs 12% of its workforce, according to Moody’s and World Travel and Tourism Council.

Predictions are high on the actual cost to Kenya’s economy with number ranging from $200 to $250 million in lost tourism revenue. The good news is that in addition to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s vow that he would stand firm against terrorism, most foreign missions and governments continue to show support to Kenya and the country continues to rebound from this attack. One area in which the country continues to lead is in the area of responsible tourism and I would like to highlight some of the special practices used by many of the lodges and camps that make Kenya a remarkable destination.

 

Dedication to Eco Tourism

Ecotourism Kenya is an organization promoting responsible tourism practices within the tourism industry. They encourage the adoption of best practices in the use of tourism resources, working with local communities and managing waste and emissions. Ecotourism brings together conservation, communities and tourism, and can be applied to all types of tourism whether it is adventure, wildlife or beach. Ecotourism Kenya issues eco-rated certifications to facilities on its environmental, economic and socio-cultural performance, and is not only the organization’s flagship program, but also the only one of its kind in the East African region. Launched in 2002, the program’s focus is to recognize best practices in environmental conservation, responsible resource use and socio-economic investment by awarding qualified applicants a bronze, silver or gold eco-rating certification based on their performance. As we recognize the growing importance of eco-tourism, here are some of Kenya’s top accommodations earning gold certificates:

Porini Amboseli Camp (www.porinisafaricamps.com), situated in Selenkey conservancy is a 15,000-acre private game reserve within the Amboseli ecosystem. Home to big game such as elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe and zebra, the camp is situated approximately 100 miles from Nairobi. It’s accessible by a 3-hour drive or through daily flights from the capital city. This camp is made up of 9 solar-powered guest tents and can accommodate a maximum of 18 guests at a time. Porini Amboseli Camp received a silver eco-rating in 2010; and in 2011, a decade after it was established, the camp was promoted to gold.

Located in southern Kenya, Campi ya Kanzi (www.maasai.com) is an eco-luxury resort approximately 20 miles from Mt. Kilimanjaro, in a Maasai Group Ranch. It sits within a 5,000-acre conservancy, which is part of the 280,000-acre Kuku Group Ranch owned by the local Maasai community. Every aspect of the camp was designed to be environmentally friendly. Using only sustainable materials, buildings were built using lava rocks and thatched grass roofs, and truly hard to imagine, there were no trees cut during its construction. Local people were employed, instead of contracting builders from outside. Water comes from rain collection and is heated by solar panels. Food is prepared using an eco-friendly charcoal made from coffee husks and, most importantly, Campi Ya Kanzi works in partnership with the Maasai community and donates a portion of its proceeds to local preservation programs. The camp has also won other sustainable tourism recognition, including winning the 2008 World Savers Award and the 2006 Tourism for Tomorrow Award.

Opened in 2007, Sasaab Samburu (www.thesafaricollection.com) is a lodge located within the northern part of Kenya. Nestled on a hillside on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro river, Sasaab offers panoramic views across Samburuland as far as Mount Kenya. It’s a luxury lodge with 9 spacious rooms, offering private plunge pools and open-air bathrooms. Children are welcome here as there are numerous activities including learning about the Samburu communities and their culture. Sasaab generates hot water using solar panels, uses energy conserving light bulbs and seeks to save water wherever possible. The lodge has its own vegetable garden for guests to enjoy in their meals. In June 2012, Sasaab was awarded a gold eco-rating and is one of only 6 lodges in Kenya to have reached this level. 

For a complete list of all camps and lodges awarded the bronze, silver or gold eco-rating please visit www.ecotourismkenya.org.To learn more about Kenya, visit www.magicalkenya.com

 

 

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