Campi Ya Kanzi

Bring you the real Africa

Campi ya Kanzi

Campi ya Kanzi (Camp of the Hidden Treasure) is Luca Belpietro’s dream come true. Luca was raised by his father with a passion for Africa and has had in his blood since childhood the desire to live on that magical continent. Everything started in the summer of 1968, when Luca, 4 years old, spent his first night alone in a little tent in the garden of his country house. He wanted to show his father he was ready to be taken on safari. That sense of belonging to Africa characterized his entire life and eventually led him to the places he had always dreamed of. He could not resist the call of Africa.

Luca finally left his management consultancy company and settled in Kenya in 1995. With Antonella Bonomi, his then girlfriend, now wife, freshly graduated from law school, they created Campi ya Kanzi. Antonella played a crucial role in helping Luca achieve his dream.
Instead of leasing land from either the government or a private landlord, Luca and Antonella wanted to create something different. After a long search in East Africa, they fall for a Maasai reserve at the foothills of Kilimanjaro between Kenya and Tanzania, a 400 square mile area in the
African wilderness belonging to 7,000 Maasai: Kuku Group Ranch. Their challenging plan was to involve the local Maasai community in the preservation of their land, wildlife and culture. They started from scratch. Nothing was there: no roads, no buildings, no water, nothing. All the pieces had to be put in place: the first road, then the first building. Water had to be brought by tractor from a spring 12 miles away. The Maasai enthusiastically helped.

After two years of hard work Campi ya Kanzi was created: a community-owned and operated ecotourism lodge. While Luca nostalgically remembers the showers from a bucket on a tree, Antonella is quite happy now to live with the comforts of running water and electricity. Both of them decided to dedicate their lives to the conservation of the cultural and wildlife heritage of this paradise they now call home.

People helping people
Campi ya Kanzi is the realization of Luca’s thesis in economics, “Environment conservation and economic development: wildlife as a renewable resource in Kenya”. As 75% of the wildlife in Kenya exists outside the National Parks, it is crucial for their preservation that local landlords consider native animals a resource and not live in competition with them. By having the community completely involved in the creation and management of Campi ya Kanzi, Luca and Antonella were able to simultaneously protect both wilderness and wildlife, while creating employment, income and development for all the Maasai of the Reserve.

Located in the Chyulu Hills, Ernest Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa, Campi ya Kanzi has seen the involvement of the local community since its onset. No contractors were hired to build the lodge; Luca and Antonella did it solely with the support of the Maasai community. Herdsmen were taught how to build and were trained as waiters, guides and drivers.

To better protect the cultural and wildlife heritage of the Maasai, Luca and Antonella created Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. The Trust runs conservation, education and health programs. The Trust is supported by actor and conservationist Edward Norton, recently appointed
by United Nations Secretary General, goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity.

Additional funds are provided by Campi ya Kanzi guests, who contribute $100 to the trust for every night spent at the lodge. By choosing Campi ya Kanzi, guests are not only visiting one of the few remaining spots of pristine African wilderness, but are also helping to support a meaningful conservation project.

A day at Campi ya Kanzi
Imagine starting your day with the aroma of fresh Kenyan coffee or tea brought to your tent by your personal Maasai attendant. Imagine enjoying the privacy of a veranda looking out on majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Imagine taking a guided walking safari with local trackers showing you the rich flora and fauna of this undiscovered paradise.

Located in a 400 square mile Group Ranch bordering Tsavo West and Chyulu National Parks, Campi ya Kanzi is owned by Maasai herdsmen. It accommodates no more than 16 guests at a time and provides them with a unique opportunity to experience the real African wilderness. Stretching from the Chyulu Hills to the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the altitude of the ranch ranges from 3,000 to 6,900 feet. The great variation in altitude and vastness of area offer an incredible biodiversity. Here you can enjoy the wildlife that inhabit mountain forest, grasslands, green river woodlands, bush and savannah.

The whole camp is centred around Tembo House. This is where you will enjoy great Italian food, relax in the library, play backgammon, or enjoy music. There are six tented cottages as well as the Hemingway and Simba suites. They all offer different views, have wood floors opening onto a veranda, ensuite elegant bathrooms, with bidet, basin, shower and flush toilet and hot and cold running water. Each cottage has a large log bed, a table, a colonial trunk, and shelves and hangers for clothes. The bed linens and bath towels are specially made in Italy. The cottages are generously spaced to ensure maximum privacy, and each tent is named after its unique view and individually decorated.

The advantage of being outside the National Parks lies in your freedom to explore on foot. An early morning walk with a Maasai tracker, looking for cheetahs or leopards is an unforgettable experience. The most enjoyable safaris are combinations of easy walks and game drives in an open Land Rover. Active visitors may opt for longer walks, from the Chyulu forest to the savannah plains, along rivers and through lava flows. Being out in the African wilderness with your professional guide and your Maasai tracker is a special experience. To appreciate the biodiversity of the area, a 5-day visit is recommended. The Maasai take great pride in showing you their home. A visit to one of the local villages with your Maasai tracker is an enjoyable and authentic experience. If you choose to go on an early safari, you may consider spending a night in our mobile camp. Depending on the season, it will be mounted along the river at the foothills of Kilimanjaro or in the
plains by a lake - an unforgettable, true wilderness experience. While at the camp you may want to take a morning or afternoon flight with our commercial pilot to enjoy the beauty of Kenya from the air. You could fly near Mt. Kilimanjaro, in the Rift Valley, over Tsavo or the Yatta Plateau.

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