Conservancies – Kenya’s Hidden Parks

Imagine a wildlife area that is off the beaten path, that’s hardly touristed at all but offers intense wildlife sightings. Now add to this, the option to engage in activities like off-road tracking, night safaris, and breakfasts in the bush… things you can’t do in a national park.

Then, factor in excellent accommodations that you’d have mostly to yourself – lodges or tented camps near the wildlife, where the local Maasai people could take you on walking safaris, close to the land they know so well.

Wouldn’t all this feel like the most authentic of safaris? But where would you even find such an experience? The answer: Kenya’s renowned conservancies. But just how did these conservancies come to be?

The Conservancy Problem

Kenya’s national parks are a conservation success story. Protected by the park service from overgrazing and development, they have thrived over the past 30 years.

However, the bordering lands surrounding the parks presented a different story. Inhabited by the local Maasai and other indigenous people, these pastoral tribes tended to let their cattle overgraze the lands. Subsistence agriculture and the burning of trees to produce charcoal only added to the area’s degradation. The result? Erosion of the countryside leading to a loss of the animal population.

A Solution is Born

But a solution was in the making with the birth of a partnership between the tourism industry and the native landowners – the Maasai.

Under these new agreements, the Maasai would curtail their overgrazing and other degrading agricultural methods. The theory was these new eco-aware practices would give the land a chance to regenerate and once the land flourished, the wildlife would return.

And that’s exactly what happened – within a few years, these once impoverished lands improved with an abundance of animals flowing back.

A Win-Win

And what happened to the native Maasai people in this arrangement? In return for reforming their grazing and agricultural practices, they are paid a yearly stipend. They still raise their cattle using healthier rotational grazing practices but now they have some economic security as well.

This has meant better health care for their families and for the first time they can afford to send their children to school – transformational changes for these traditional people.

Additionally, the Maasai earn more income working as guides on the conservancies. Who better to guide your safari adventure than the people who grew up on this land and know it better than anyone?

And a Few More Wins

This brings us to you the safari-goer. An important part of each conservancy’s charter is a strong commitment to the eco-health of the land and community. Unlike the national parks, the conservancies have strict limitations as to the number of visitors who can stay in and visit these areas.

A conservancy safari means you’ll see far more animals than other tourists on these protected tracts. And as mentioned, you’ll have opportunities to engage in activities not allowed in the parks.

Your Maasai guide can take you on a guided walking safari, learning about and seeing the flora and fauna close up. Want to camp out overnight or have dinner in the bush? Your conservancy hosts will make that happen, along with exciting night safaris.

The conservancy experience is about as close as one can come to a personal, private safari. Let us introduce you to Kenya’s many excellent conservancy lands for the perfect natural adventure.

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