Naboisho conservancy

Coming together in a time of need



Over fifteen years of working closely with the Maasai, Basecamp has tried to empower the community and create opportunities for them. To prevent landowners from selling their land – their lifeblood – to outsiders, Basecamp tried to find a sustainable and financially viable alternative that would allow the Maasai to retain their land. The solution became the establishment of a community owned nature conservancy, which would be leased by tourism operators, yet owned by the Maasai.

Five tourism partners, including Basecamp, would pay a set land lease fee every month. The tourism operators were carefully selected based on their commitment to natural resource management and community development. The establishment of a community owned nature conservancy bordering the Maasai Mara National Reserve would additionally help protect an area vital for the survival of the entire Mara ecosystem. Both the grass eaters and the carnivores of the Mara are dependent on vast grazing grounds and hunting territory to survive, and the government managed national reserve is not large enough to sustain the ecosystem by itself. Basecamp recognized this need for private engagement and sought to create a model for conservation worldwide.

After years of relentless commitment and unfaltering patience, Basecamp finally succeeded in convincing the Maasai land owners to sign a 15-year lease agreement, a time frame superseding any similar lease agreement in the Mara region. The community owned conservancy was named Naboisho – after the maa expression of ‘coming together’. The name symbolizes how the Maasai community came together in a time of need, and was chosen by the Maasai community.

Naboisho Conservancy consists of 50,000 acers (20,000 hectares) of pristine wildlife territory and spectacular scenery. Despite its short time in operation, Naboisho has become renowned for its bountiful biodiversity and breathtaking beauty. Already, researchers are witnessing how the wildlife thrives in protected areas. The density of lions within Naboisho is one of the highest in the world, with a population of more than 70 identified lions who use Naboisho as their home territory. Poaching is an ever-increasing threat to Kenya’s elephants. Elephant researchers identify a prominent change in elephant behavior inside protected areas. Naboisho has become a haven for elephants, a vital sanctuary in a dangerous time.

More than any other animal on the planet, the lion has been the object of admiration and respect throughout human history. The face of the male lion is by far the most popular national symbol – a somewhat comical choice for countries in Northern Europe where lions have never lived. Still, this is a natural choice considering how the lion, with its majestic mane and regal posture, symbolizes strength, potency and power like no other. Truly, after witnessing them in the wild it is no denying that the lions are the rightful kings of the savannah.

Unfortunately, the lion is under grave threat due to loss of habitat, poaching and poisoning. Researchers estimate that in the last 40 years there has been a 70-90% decline in overall lion populations, reducing the number of remaining lions to approximately 25 000. As a consequence it is becoming harder and harder to witness lions in the wild. To help safeguard these amazing cats, Basecamp is a major supporter of the Mara Predator Project. In addition, Basecamp partners with Kristiansand Dyrepark and Strømme Foundation in a combined effort to protect animals in the wild.

Besides having one of the highest lion densities on the planet, the open savannah of Naboisho increases the likelihood of seeing lions when they are active. Lions are unusually social compared to other cats and live in medium-sized family groups. The females are responsible for rearing the young and for hunting, while the males are responsible for … well, not that much… Evidently some privileges come with being the King.

Besides contributing in sustaining the biodiversity of the Mara region, Naboisho generates a monthly income benefitting more than 5000 individuals. Every month the landowners receive a set land lease fee, creating an economic stability never previously experienced by most beneficiaries. Besides transforming the economic situation for thousands of people, Basecamp has instigated several community projects to improve the living conditions for the communities neighboring Naboisho. Basecamp has helped to upgrade the local primary school, drilled boreholes and, with the help of our generous partners, constructed and equipped a new local health clinic. An additional positive effect results from the employment deriving from construction of five tourism camps inside Naboisho. Basecamp sets the benchmark for the other tourism operators by having 95% local employees, including many women.

Naboisho Conservancy is home to the Koiyaki Guiding School (KGS), an award-winning educational institution established in 2006. KGS trains local youth to become safari guides, necessary in an area drastically lacking job opportunities. Basecamp works closely with KGS, located close to our newly opened Eagle View Camp. Every year Basecamp sponsors a number of promising students, usually women, to complete the one-year course. Besides empowering local youth, KGS facilitates several wildlife research projects, including the Mara Naboisho Lion Project and Elephant Voices. In partnership with the South-African managed volunteer program facilitator, ‘African Impact’ KGS hosts volunteers from all over the world.

The positive impact of Naboisho is clearly illustrated by the increasing population of such vulnerable species as cheetah, wild dog and lion, as well as the improved living conditions in the neighboring Maasai communities. However, since the monthly land lease fee is covered by revenue from tourism Naboisho is completely dependent on guests to be able to survive! Hence, by visiting Naboisho guests are making an essential contribution to the future existence of Naboisho – to the immeasurable importance for wildlife and people alike.

Within Naboisho Conservancy guests are allowed to participate in certain activities not permitted elsewhere, including walking safaris, night game drives and bush dinner. The tourism partners have agreed on certain codes of conduct to enhance the safari experience. This includes restrictions on the number of vehicles permitted at a time. Hence, there are few other places in the world where you will experience a safari as exclusive as in Naboisho. The absence of vehicles creates the outmost safari experience – expertly guided by our knowledgeable Maasai guides.

Basecamp operates two exclusive camps within Naboisho, which offer complimentary, yet equally delightful experiences. Wilderness Camp is perfect for adventurous travellers looking for the truly authentic, classic and raw safari experience. For the ultimate experience, we have the Eagle View Camp; here you can enjoy five-star comfort, exceptional cuisine, all the while overlooking the savannah from ‘the best view’ in Kenya

Basecamp Masai Mara

Basecamp Masai Mara – fittingly referred to as the ‘mother of all camps’ by our staff – is where our story started. Lovingly run by our Maasai staff – Basecamp Masai Mara is as much a home as it is a tourism destination.

Eagle view

At Eagle View we invite you to gaze towards the future of Sustainable Tourism. Perched atop a natural hilltop, this luxury eco-camp is located within Naboisho Conservancy – a highly acclaimed model for nature conservation management.

Leopard Hill

Leopard Hill offers a unique location in the heart of Mara Naboisho Conservancy to experience the magic of the Kenyan savannah. The camp is situated next to a series of watering holes where the wildlife of the savannah would flock to drink, offering you a chance to observe the African wildlife from a prime spot.

Wilderness camp

Wilderness is our nostalgic tribute to the safaris of the early explorers and safari pioneers. Free from artificial luxury and modern disturbances, Wilderness is safari as it was meant to be. It is only you, the Maasai, the wildlife, and the stars.

Dorobo Mobile Camp

Truly the stuff of legends, the Dorobo spend their lives living off the African savannah, carrying no other protection than their intrinsic understanding of the wilderness. Partake in several days of walking and mobile camping on the savannah.

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