Luxury wildlife camp in Kenya celebrates 10 years
Kicheche Camps, the group of small, privately owned luxury wildlife camps in Kenya’s Masai Mara and Laikipia in Northern Kenya, will celebrate its tenth anniversary next month by launching a new itinerary, The Kicheche Triangle and a number of new responsible tourism projects which complement the existing programmes.
To coincide with the anniversary, Kicheche is also showcasing the best wildlife photography from the last decade, ten great wildlife moments and the top ten bush tales from the camp.
Since launching on 1 August 2000, Kicheche Camps has grown from one small campsite in Kenya’s Masai Mara, to a luxury portfolio - Main Camp and Bush Camp in the Mara, and Laikipia Camp near Mount Kenya. However, they have not lost track of their roots, realising that clients desire a genuine wilderness awakening without diluting the wild bush experience.
Kicheche will this autumn launch a brand new itinerary ‘The Kicheche Triangle’, to coincide with the tenth anniversary. With emphasis on walking, wildlife and conservation, the trip includes Bush Camp, Main Camp and Laikipia Camp and takes in the prolific and varied wildlife found throughout Kenya. Highlights of the itinerary are the outstanding full day game drives in the Mara for which Kicheche is famed, a full-day walking safari where guests will spot birds and have an introduction to wildlife photography. Guests will also spend time at Laikipia, home to Kenya's largest population of Black Rhino. The trip is rounded off by a visit to the Wildlife Educational Centre, the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and the Lion Tracking programme. The itinerary is available to book for the 2010 Migration Season.
Since its initial conception just a decade ago, Kicheche has become the camp of choice for wildlife enthusiasts and keen photographers who want to spend long hours in the bush. Synonymous with outstanding wildlife experiences, exceptional guiding and gourmet cuisine, the Kicheche experience is second to none. Kicheche has the highest percentage of Silver and Bronze guides in the Masai Mara, accredited by the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association and Kicheche’s guides have guided television crews and wildlife photographers throughout the region.
Kicheche next month will also celebrate the best wildlife photography of the last decade which includes iconic images of the cheetah family made famous by Big Cat Diaries, a leopard illuminated by a rainbow following a passing storm, as well as stills from an astonishing hour when over 30,000 wildebeest crossed the Mara River. A number of the images by acclaimed photographer and owner Paul Goldstein have featured in wildlife and photography magazines. In addition, highlights from the last ten years of visitor’s books will be released, along with top bush tales including lions resting on verandas, leopards in camp and other great wildlife moments.
Described as ‘camping in Big Cat country at its finest’ by an Africa veteran, but first time guest Kicheche was founded by British award-winning wildlife photographer Paul Goldstein and New Zealand born Greg Monson who purchased the site in June 2000, when it consisted of just four tents and a gas-fired fridge. It was a brave move for the friends and business partners, during a turbulent decade. They had plenty of expertise in tourism, but not in running wildlife camps, but what they lacked in experience, they made up for in commitment and a passion for the region. Just three short months after the purchase, in the lead-up to the annual Great Migration, Kicheche Main Camp welcomed its first guests.
Over the next ten years, Kicheche expanded to include Bush Camp, established in 2006 and Laikipia Camp followed in November 2008 – the first Kicheche Camp outside the Mara. A small tented camp, nestled at the foot of indigenous forest, in the centre of the 90,000 acre Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Laikipia’s twelve guests are accommodated in six tents, with private verandas, all of which overlook the waterhole.
Today, the camps look a little different from its more simple beginnings, with luxury under-canvas living, intuitive, personalised service, expertly mixed sundowners and excellent gourmet cuisine, served al-fresco. However, the Kicheche philosophy has stayed the same over the last decade of a classic tented luxury without diluting the wild bush experience. The camps are unfenced and superbly positioned in the legendary wilderness and offer flexible game-viewing with no limit on drives. Camps are low in environmental impact (tents are solar powered and showers are of the bucket variety).
Now in 2010, the Kicheche family employs more than 100 staff and supports many local families. Kicheche takes its responsibilities seriously, and has been nominated several times in the Responsible Tourism Awards. The Kicheche Community Project is sponsoring 25 local children through school in 2010, two young people through Guiding School to enable them to become guides, as well as funding an HIV SAFE clinic and dental unit. Kicheche has also donated a vehicle and developed an ECO centre for local children in the Mara Discovery Centre which launched earlier this year.
Paul Goldstein, Kicheche Camps commented “When Greg and I bought Kicheche Camp ten years ago we were pretty green, but we’ve learnt a lot along the way. Each year has been even more rewarding and I have many wonderful wildlife moments ranging from the spotting of elusive Painted Dogs close to camp, to watching lion cubs and cheetahs grow to maturity.
“Kicheche has over the last ten years become the camp of choice for photographers and wildlife enthusiasts and we are delighted to continue to count esteemed guests including photographers Anup and Manoj Shah, Jonathan and Angie Scott of BBC’s Big Cat Diaries, as well as actress Rachel Weisz as part of the Kicheche family. We appeal to first time Kenya visitors as well as welcoming photographic visitors who return year after year – one thing is for sure, once guests discover the Kicheche difference - they will be hooked!”
Kicheche Camps consists of three privately owned luxury camps in the Kenya. Kicheche Bush Camp includes just six luxury ensuite tents, perched on the edge of the reserve in the private Olare Orok Conservancy. Kicheche Mara Camp boasts 11 luxury tents set in a forested glade on the northern Aitong plains with prolific game year-round. Laikipia is a small luxurious tented camp, catering for 12 guests, nestled at the foot of indigenous forest overlooking a waterhole, in the centre of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
For more information or to book, visit: kicheche.com