What is Oldarpoi Mara Camp?
Right at the edge of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, one of Africa’s most spectacular safari parks, lies the Oldarpoi Mara Camp. This camp is owned by the local Maasai community and has been set up to create a sustainable future for economic and social development and empowerment. The income through the Oldarpoi Mara Camp funds many projects in the Maasai community.
Nelson Ole Reiyia, son of Maasai nomads, is the creative initiator and owner of the camp – but his visionary passion for his culture, people and community go much further.
So I really encourage them to look for business opportunities, they should not think about the immediate gains to themselves, they should look at something sustainable, they should look at securing the business success fast and do it wholeheartedly , honestly and with passion, not just for themselves, but also for others. Because if we have more people caring for others, then we could have a better world, a better Kenya! – Nelson Ole Reiyia
“I See Maasai Development Initiative” (ISMDI) – empowering the community
He started a program called the “I See Maasai Development Initiative” (ISMDI) which focuses on bringing poor children into school and providing them with education and skills, and thus opening up opportunities for their future. Especially Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriage are still a problem in the traditions of rural life, which the Initiative is fighting against with education and alternatives. The ISMDI sponsors the education of mainly young girls, creates jobs and employment opportunities in the village through sustainable tourism and has set up the infrastructure for clean water and healthcare for the whole community.
Two schools have been build, one in a remote village, so that the young children don’t have to walk for many kilometres through dangerous terrain each day. Teachers and volunteers provide knowledge and support the young ones in their development for an independent future.
But that is not everything. Together with Norwegian teacher May-Brit Dossland and her brother Roy Colin they built a library – not only a place for reading, but with the “Stories Café” also a place where the youngsters along with tourists can listen to the stories of the elders and learn about their cultural heritage.
The Community Resource Center – knowledge base for sustainable tourism
The next project is already in the making and is scheduled to be launched in April 2015. The “Community Resource Center” aims to be a training point for the community for education and knowledge transfer in ecotourism. The goal is to train local people in eco-tourism and environmental management, combining both indigenous and modern knowledge. With continuous development of best practises and inclusion of important stakeholders, this program will provide income opportunities for a sustainable future. The conservation of the unique and fragile environment and cultural heritage will be the highest priority.
Being the natives of this land, the Maasai understand more than anyone else how important ownership and responsible tourism are in preserving their biggest treasure, especially when facing profit-driven, international expansion of the tourism industry.
Unique Safari experiences among Maasai Warriors
Together with Daniel Galati, Nelson founded Australia based “Real Masai Safaris”, organizing safaris in the Maasai Mara. Recently TripSpirit joined with Oldarpoi to offer unique community based travel experiences for the European and, predominantly, German speaking market. The camp provides 15 tents for a total occupancy of 30 people. All tents have a private bathroom and the local staff is taking care of the guests’ needs.
At Oldarpoi Mara Camp you are just a 5 minutes’ drive from the Maasai Mara main gate away. Apart from stunning game viewing safaris included in the package, you can additionally book the following activities:
- Balloon Safari – spectacular views of the world famous wildebeest migration including a full champagne breakfast on the Mara plains.
- Honeymoon Maasai Style – walk through the most beautiful spots in the Mara and receive Maasai blessings from the elders.
- Nature Walks – learn more about the fauna and flora of Maasai Mara while walking in the wilderness with trained Maasai guides.
- Maasai Cultural Visit – visit a traditional Maasai village and learn about their culture from a Maasai Moran. Enjoy stories and dances from the morans and women.
Volunteer Opportunities – support the local community
For people with more time, interested in combing their stay with volunteering activities and passing on some of their skills, the camp can provide opportunities to help the community’s social and economic projects. There are a number of volunteer activities in the community school such as teaching the kids, cross cultural exchanges, mentoring, tree planting, fencing and building activities.
Oldarpoi Mara Camp supports their local community in multiple ways:
- Annual lease fee for the camp territory.
- Bed occupancy fees when guests are staying at the camp.
- Education sponsoring of poor children through the “I See Maasai Development Initiative”, which is about 450$ per child per year.
- Additionally 40% of the camp business’ earned profit goes to support the community.
- Training and employment opportunities for local people.
- Infrastructure for water, electricity and healthcare.