After spending a week at Elephant Pepper Camp, in the Mara North Conservancy of Kenya, I can tell you that my biggest, and greatest surprise has been the incredibly low footprint of this camp. With ten perfectly sized and very comfortable tents the camp is tucked away into a small treed glade bordering on a gigantic wildebeest and zebra inundated grassland.
Prior to my arrival I had known that the camp had been one of the 11 camps in Kenya to be rated with a gold star in it’s eco-friendly approach towards its management and running. I was keen to see what an industry leader did when it came to sustainability. I decided to take a walk around the camp with Patrick, the general manager, so that he could explain exactly what steps Elephant Pepper Camp had taken, and are still taking, to not only thrive completely off-the-grid, but also to shine as an example, encouraging others to follow suit in the safari industry.
All the lights in the tent are solar powered. They are switched on and off just like a normal light. A nifty inclusion is that there is one switch which turns off all the power to the tent. This makes it very easy when leaving the tent to save precious power.
They really have thought of everything…even the torches used to walk around the camp at night are solar powered.
A single borehole has been sunk at the camp. Levels have been calculated to ensure that sustainable volumes are used daily.
Worm farming and compost
Grey water treatment
Elephant Pepper Camp has been supporting a nearby clinic for the last three years. It focuses on finding qualified and experienced doctors to come in and conduct training for the local staff. Due to community request they focus on maternal child health care and family planning.
One of the newest programs here focuses on using trivia, poetry and games to educate the children from the local school on various conservation issues.
Needless to say I was mighty impressed by how much they are doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a comfy bed just as much as any one, but it just seems a little strange to me that often it seems like camps don’t really care about the scar they leave behind. There is negligible amount of concrete here at Elephant Pepper Camp so in theory they could pack up the camp and within no time the land would be back to what it was. Surely, that is something all safari camps must strive for?
P.S. – For those of you who need it – yes there is wi-fi (during the daylight hours that is)
· Gold Eco Rating Certification-Ecotourism Kenya, 2011/2012/2013 (only 11 Gold rated camps in Kenya)
· Eco Warrior Awards as Best Community Conservancy –Ecotourism Kenya, 2011
· 5 of the Best: Best for an Authentic Camping Experience- Travel Weekly Magazine, October 2005
Written and photographed by Adam Bannister