Kenya’s safari camp sector consolidates with Asilia’s acquisition of another camp


(Posted 01st May 2015)

Effective 01st of May has Asilia, the accommodation group with properties in Tanzania, Zanzibar and Kenya, acquired the ‘Encounter Mara’ camp which is located on the Naboisho Conservancy which adjoins the main Masai Mara Game Reserve.

The ten tents, which include two larger family tents able to accommodate a third bed for a child, offer an atmosphere of privacy and fits the bill for the Mara conservancies of leaving a minimal footprint on these important buffer area between the main reserve and the farms and ranches beyond the conservation area.

The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is unlike some of the other conservancies along the Masai Mara Game reserve boundary a vital corridor for the little known Loita Migration that sees thousands of wildebeest and zebra move through the area every year. Naboisho is also a refuge for elephant with more elephant per square kilometre than in the main Maasai Mara Reserve. Lion prides have flourished within the conservancy where in addition leopard, cheetah and the rarer striped hyena are regularly seen. However the real magic of Naboisho is its sheer exclusivity with only a handful of small safari camps, ensuring a rare level of safari solitude in the otherwise often overly busy Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Walking safaris and night game drives with experienced guides bring guests closer to nature and allow for often scintillating encounters with game. Ranked as number two of the Mara conservancies by Tripadviser is the 50.000 acre large conservation area owned by local Masai clans and families but was dedicated to conservation by them along the same concept which saw a string of conservancies established in recent years.

Asilia, formed in 2004, was notably the first recipient in Africa for a safari camp company of the 5 star rating for sustainability by GIIRS and last year won the 2015 Tourism for Tomorrow business award. Additional properties in Kenya include the Mara Bush Houses, Rekero Camp, Nomadic Camp, Naboisho Camp, now joined by the Encounter Mara property. Across the border in Tanzania does the company cover a range of destinations with their Sayari Camp, Dunia Camp, Olakira Camp, Kimondo Camp, Kwihala Camp, Namiri Plains, Oliver’s Camp, Little Oliver’s, Ubuntu Camp and Rubondo Island Camp. On the Spice Island of Zanzibar are the Matemwe Lodge, Matemwe Retreat and Matemwe Beach House available for guests who, after spending time on safari, prefer to enjoy a break on the beautiful beaches of Tanzania’s largest island.

This latest development, only months after Cheli & Peacock merged with Elewana, is by many seen as a further sign of ongoing industry consolidation as Kenya continues to struggle with a downturn of its mainstream tourism business which has not only greatly afflicted the resorts along the Kenya coast but also started to impact on the safari sector, especially in parks closer to the coast like Shimba Hills, Tsavo East and Tsavo West, the Sagalla Hills, Taita Taveta area and even Amboseli.

The downturn is a particular threat to the survival of the conservancies across the country where land has been set aside by communities to earn them tourism dollars through land rent and royalties from guests staying at camps put up on the conservancies. With visitor numbers however shrinking and dwindling incomes are such landowners faced with stark choices in the future if to continue partnering with conservation or else return the land to alternative uses which could deal wildlife conservation a major blow.

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