Redefining the Luxury Safari Lodge

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Sarah Gold

1 of 9

A Kenyan
luxury safari lodge has forever changed the traditional relationship with its Masai
landowners—and the experience for its visitors.

There
are bats hanging over my bed.

I
discover them the morning I arrive at Shompole, when I’m escorted to my private
sleeping loggia, which can’t quite be called a room because it has no walls.
The sheets on my king-size bed are freshly ironed, eucalyptus-scented, and
cooled by a solar-powered fan, but all that separates them from the surrounding
landscape—a sweeping panorama of East African veld, thorny scrub, and sky—is a
framed cube of mosquito netting and a steep thatched roof.

A riot
of squeaking and fluttering ensues from above as I heft my suitcase onto the
bed. I look up, and there they are: about a dozen small, mouse-colored bundles
suspended from the rafters like crumpled handkerchiefs. As I watch, one bundle
twitches and extends a long filmy wing before rewrapping itself.

“The
bats are good,” says David, a tall young Masai I meet in the main lodge, when I
describe my unexpected bunkmates. “They are yellow long-eared bats. Vesper
bats. That means they eat mosquitoes.”

Redefining the Luxury Safari Lodge

A Kenyan
luxury safari lodge has forever changed the traditional relationship with its Masai
landowners—and the experience for its visitors.

There
are bats hanging over my bed.

I
discover them the morning I arrive at Shompole, when I’m escorted to my private
sleeping loggia, which can’t quite be called a room because it has no walls.
The sheets on my king-size bed are freshly ironed, eucalyptus-scented, and
cooled by a solar-powered fan, but all that separates them from the surrounding
landscape—a sweeping panorama of East African veld, thorny scrub, and sky—is a
framed cube of mosquito netting and a steep thatched roof.

A riot
of squeaking and fluttering ensues from above as I heft my suitcase onto the
bed. I look up, and there they are: about a dozen small, mouse-colored bundles
suspended from the rafters like crumpled handkerchiefs. As I watch, one bundle
twitches and extends a long filmy wing before rewrapping itself.

“The
bats are good,” says David, a tall young Masai I meet in the main lodge, when I
describe my unexpected bunkmates. “They are yellow long-eared bats. Vesper
bats. That means they eat mosquitoes.”

Sarah Gold

Redefining the Luxury Safari Lodge

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