Campi Ya Kanzi is a lodge in the Chyulu Hills section of the great Kilimanjaro Ecosystem, a 280,000-acre reserve where Ernest Hemingway wrote The Green Hills of Africa.
Up to sixteen guests can be accommodated in six cottages and two suites, all set on wooden platforms and underthatch, with large en-suite bathrooms (with solar-heated water). The African decor has Italian accents, reflecting the background of owners Luca Belpietro and Antonella Bonomi. There is also Kanzi House – with its own swimming pool and Jacuzzi – that can accommodate up to ten people.
What They Are Doing
In 2000, Luca and Antonella formed the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. Its mission is to support the preservation of biodiversity within the Maasai tribal lands of East Africa by promoting conservation, education, and health services within the Maasai community. A $100 conservation fee per guest per day is paid to the trust. (Watch Luca talk about the trust in the video below.)
Forty teachers are employed in 14 local primary schools. A gifted-pupils private school is run for the best pupils. A total of 22 secondary-level scholarships are offered to the best pupils. The trust runs a public school it built and which is attended by 722 pupils.
The trust employs a doctor and four nurses to look after three dispensaries. One of them has been provided with solar electricity and a bore hole.
The trust has set aside a private conservation area of 5,000 acres on this traditional Maasai pastoral land to ensure the preservation of one of the earth’s most diverse ecosystems and the fascinating traditions of the Maasai people.
Its Wildlife Protection and Compensation Program strives to protect lions in southern Kenya from the threat of extinction. Losses caused by predators are compensated by the trust to the Maasai landlords, only if the predators themselves were not hunted, thereby assuring a measure of protection to the lions roaming the reserve. It runs the Simba Project, a scheme whereby landlords are compensated for livestock killed by predators.
As a result, the lion population has increased by more than three hundred percent in two years. The presence of lions encourages tourism, and as the Maasai learn to coexist with the lions, they see them as an extension of their lifestyle rather than as a threat.
The actor Edward Norton is the U.S. president of the Trust, which is also supported by the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Fund (a 501(c)(3) organization). The fund is about to invest some $250,000 in health facilities. In 2006, Cartier, together with Norton, promoted its Love Charity Bracelet program to generously provide the trust with a substantial contribution.
In Their Own Words
“We began Campi ya Kanzi in 1996 not with personal financial gain in mind, but with the objective of using profits from sustainable tourism to protect and preserve the local ecosystem and to sustain the traditional culture of the Maasai people.”