• Safaris

Redefining the Luxury Safari Lodge

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Sarah Gold

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

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My answer to David’s question is, yes and no.

Yes, it’s thrilling to be here, on the Nguruman Escarpment along the southernmost edge of Kenya—specifically, on the 40,000-acre, relatively unknown expanse of the Shompole Conservancy. Animals don’t congregate here in thick herds, as they do in Masai Mara National Park, 70 miles to the northwest. Yet it’s still possible to drive across the open veld and suddenly spot a pair of giraffes languidly unbowing their necks above the acacia trees. Or a troupe of zebra, their stripes shimmering in the heat like a mirage; or a trio of startled impala doing grand jetés over the high desert grass.

But the proximity to Africa’s fauna isn’t what interests me most about Shompole. Rather, it’s the close, ubiquitous presence of the Masai—those other, deep-rooted inhabitants of the Rift Valley, whose culture is often co-opted by, but not especially synergic with, the safari tourism industry.

Redefining the Luxury Safari Lodge

My answer to David’s question is, yes and no.

Yes, it’s thrilling to be here, on the Nguruman Escarpment along the southernmost edge of Kenya—specifically, on the 40,000-acre, relatively unknown expanse of the Shompole Conservancy. Animals don’t congregate here in thick herds, as they do in Masai Mara National Park, 70 miles to the northwest. Yet it’s still possible to drive across the open veld and suddenly spot a pair of giraffes languidly unbowing their necks above the acacia trees. Or a troupe of zebra, their stripes shimmering in the heat like a mirage; or a trio of startled impala doing grand jetés over the high desert grass.

But the proximity to Africa’s fauna isn’t what interests me most about Shompole. Rather, it’s the close, ubiquitous presence of the Masai—those other, deep-rooted inhabitants of the Rift Valley, whose culture is often co-opted by, but not especially synergic with, the safari tourism industry.

Sarah Gold
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