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Campi ya Kanzi - Travel Report by Fritz Pinney

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Posted by  Simba Saturday, 26 August 2006 18:46

Campi ya Kanzi - Travel Report by Fritz Pinney

Recommendation for Campi Ya Kanzi by Fritz Pinney - 07-16-06

I am pleased to give my highest recommendation for Campi Ya Kanzi.
My husband and I visited Campi Ya Kanzi (CYK) in February of 2005.
The previous year, Luca Belpietro, manager of CYK, came to Santa Barbara, CA, to obtain his private pilot's license and my husband was his flight instructor. (I would like to add that Luca was the perfect student, obtaining his license in an unbeaten record of 30 days!) I had always dreamed of visiting Africa and with 3 children in college, my husband celebrating a special decade birthday and knowing Luca, it seemed a perfect time to go.

I had extremely high expectations for a trip that was so costly and travel time so lengthy. But I assure you, our visit to CYK surpassed my highest expectations in the first half hour we were there. As we walked into the beautifully appointed Tembo House, the staff of a dozen or more greeted us on the steps as if we were old friends. The lodge was filled with flowers and the open to a veranda with a spectacular view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Lunch was just being served and it was a gourmet multicourse delight. CYK is not a place to consider a diet, as breakfast, lunch and dinner are unbelievably delicious. Antonella has taken great care in providing the finest food with fresh and nutritious ingredients. Meals are hosted by Antonella and Luca are a fun time to share the events of the day with other guests. Dining has a warm family/friends atmosphere.

The accommodations were perfect! They featured a comfortable bed with a wooden log frame, a lovely bathroom with hot water, and zippered tent sides that allowed a close-to-nature, yet safe feeling. The porch offered a wonderful view of Mt. Kilimanjaro and was great place to enjoy the tea or coffee and cookies served each morning, as well as the animals that wandered by. Each unit was entirely private and each unit had a personal attendant throughout the night to ensure safety. Do expect to hear the cape buffalo cavorting about at the waterhole a "stone's throw away" during the night. And I hope you will experience, as we did, the roar of a lion that comes to join them.

Shortly after lunch on the first day, and after a long trip with little sleep, we headed out on an exhilarating walk through the countryside, attended by Luca armed with a shotgun in front and Matasha, our Maasai guide with spear in hand, keeping a watchful eye at the rear. I felt excitement and adventure, but never was I afraid that I was not safe. As we continued our walk and the sun was beginning to set, I experienced my first sundowner. I don't want to spoil the surprise for you, but we came to a beautiful spot with the sun setting over the mountains, a bit tired and hungry, only to find a warm fire, a full bar, and a fabulous meal prepared, complete with tables and chairs. It was an extraordinary moment, and we had only been at CYK half a day.

Each day and evening at CYK was magical. I feel I really experienced Africa. We didn't just drive in a minivan with 20 other minivans to see the elephants. We drove in an open jeep hunting for the elephants---learning how they think and where they roam and tracking them. The hunt was as good as the catch. We visited the village where the women make beautiful beaded jewelry and also the cow dung huts the Maasai live in. I went into one of the huts and experienced what it would be like to live in such an environment. We visited the school and sat with the children under a tree as they sung to us in English. We even visited the home of the 119 year old great, great grandmother of Samson, our Maasai guide and friend.

The giraffes and zebras and wildebeests were abundant. The hippos were a real treat and we were only a few yards from a leopard as he backed down from a tree where he was enjoying his prey. On one evening when we were returning home by jeep from a sundowner, we came upon a lion. We turned out the jeep lights and idled within 15' of him and together---the lion and us---watched as a full moon rose over the horizon. These are moments that I could never have expected. These are the moments that made Africa a trip of a lifetime.

In closing, I should tell you that Luca has a talent of accommodating each individual with what they would like their experience to be. At meal time, Luca will provide a multitude of choices and each guest may choose how to spend the day. Events are geared toward your comfort and catered to your interest.

In addition to being a fabulous place to visit, Campi Ya Kanzi is world renown for its responsible and innovative conservation efforts as noted by the following rewards it has received:
Tourism for Tomorrow Award, 2006 winner.
Skål International Ecotourism Award, 2005 winner.
World Legacy Award 2004 finalist.
Ecotourism Society of Kenya, bronze Award.

In a land whose most precious resource is water, Campi Ya Kanzi recycles the water used in the bathrooms by passing it through lava filters. The water is then made available for the garden or diverted into a water pond for animals. Additionally, the water is collected from rain using gutters and water tanks.220 volt electricity for the entire camp is provided by solar panels and the water is heated with solar heaters.Meals are cooked with eco-fuel, which is a charcoal made by coffee husks. This charcoal is produced by the United Nations Environmental Project. All organic wastes are composted for use in the vegetable garden.

Campi Ya Kanzi initiated the Simba Project, whereby the Maasai are compensated for the loss of their livestock due to predation by lions, if they do not kill the lions. The lions produce profit through tourism, thus the Maasai realize it is best to co-exist with them and view them as an extension of their ranching activities. In this way, the endangered lions are saved.

For each guest accommodated at Campi Ya Kanzi one night, $35 is set apart to help the Maasai community.

The benefits to the local people are numerous; conservation of the land and natural resources, protecting air quality, providing water for animals, employment at the camp through a reputation of outstanding ecotourism practices and education for the local people in all of the above practices.

Everything about CYK is absolutely wonderful! When I returned from our trip, I accepted a position as president of the board of The Maasai Foundation of East Africa so that I could help to raise funds for the wonderful work Luca and Antonella are doing to preserve the culture and animals of the Maasai and the 400 square miles surrounding Campi Ya Kanzi. I hope you will visit our website at

Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions.

Best regards,
Fritz Pinney

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Ph. 805-964-8232