Everyone deserves the chance to travel. Yet, all too often, seeing the world is a privilege reserved for the global elite. At Elevate Destinations, we bridge the divide. Our goal is to connect local youths to their own environments, as travelers and as stewards.
Through our innovative Buy a Trip, Give a Trip model, your trip purchase creates fun new travel opportunities for local kids. For the first time, they experience nearby natural and cultural wonders. They see the sites, have fun, and make the kind of travel memories that we take for granted. Here’s just one example of Buy a Trip, Give a Trip in action:
The big day: October 10th, 2014
The travelers: Eighteen high-achieving students, ages between 10 and 15, were drawn from schools and villages that are part of Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. The students were accompanied by five teachers as well as three guides, two trackers, and two administrators from Campi ya Kanzi.
The excursion: A day-long outing for local to discover the natural beauty and wildlife of Tsavo National Park in style by 4WD safari vehicle, with a break for a nice lunch.
The big day began as eighteen excited kids traversed the rough black Shetani Lava Flow near the Chyulu entrance to Tsavo West National Park. The lava flow formed two hundred years ago during a volcanic eruption. The fiery event was believed to be the work of Satan (or Shetani in Swahili). Kids learned that the black Shetani lava rock actually helps to purify local water sources.
The students rode through the park in open, giraffe-patterned Land Rovers from Campi ya Kanzi. Each was driven by a certified, knowledgeable Maasai guide. Mount Kilimanjaro loomed large in the background as they approached the entrance to the park. The weather was clear and sunny all day.
A list of the fauna spotted throughout the day:
- A male waterbuck, frozen in his tracks and staring at the vehicle – majestic!
- African pied wagtail, a black and white aquatic bird that almost looks dressed in a tuxedo
- At least 10 hippos in the water (but only their eyes and ears peeping up)
- Lots of Vervet monkeys in the parking lot at Mzima Springs.
- A giraffe sitting down for its afternoon rest
- While eating lunch, elands and zebras appeared just outside
- Near the water’s edge, impalas and marabou storks roamed around
- Several common agama lizards were spotted – the breeding males are bright orange and blue!
- Warthogs wading through the water outside
- A rock hyrax scurried past the tables in the dining room. Rock hyraxes look like rodents, but they are the closest living relatives of elephants.
- A troop of yellow baboons, including several juveniles
- A close look at the elephants as they approached a water hole and splashed around
- Finally, a hartebeest on the way out of the park
A list of all the birds that fill the national park with movement and life:
- Fish-eating birds like the African darter
- An eastern pale chanting “goshawk!” perched atop a tree
- A martial eagle, which is the largest eagle in Africa
- The admirable plumage of a long-crested eagle
- A little bee-eater bird displayed its colorful feathers
- A yellow-billed stork showed off its impeccable balance
- Several ostriches appeared as the day came to a close
After a long and eventful day, the group drove back to the village of Iltilal so the children could catch the bus home. Dust rose up from the dirt roads as the sun began to descend. So ended a marvelous adventure in Tsavo West National Park.
- A drive to Mzima Springs, where the fresh water attracts bountiful wildlife. Mzima Springs provides water for the city of Mombasa and many other towns,so it is extremely important to protect the watershed that originates in the Chyulus.
- Descending into a partially underwater hut that allows for subaquatic viewing. They saw lots of fish beneath the surface but didn’t spot any of the resident crocodiles.
- Using binoculars to observe the hippos, then coming across the skeletal remains of a hippo. Up close, they saw the strong jaw bone and very sharp front teeth!
- A fancy buffet lunch in the grand dining room of Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, a famous hotel in the park. Lunch was followed by a tour of the grounds, where they sat by the swimming pool and enjoyed the beautiful bougainvillea bushes.
- Posing for pictures, relaxing and having fun, and feeling like a tourist for a day
Quotes from the Road:
“Thank you, Dominique, for giving these promising Maasai pupils a memorable learning experience and a well-earned reward for their academic achievements. It is essential that local children develop an appreciation for the extraordinary wildlife and wilderness that surround them.”
– Barbara Stoddard, Assistant Director, Campi ya Kanzi and the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust
Campi ya Kanzi Safari Lodge and the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. In partnership with the lodge, the Trust works to protect the legendary ecosystems and astounding biodiversity of East Africa through conservation that directly benefits local Maasai communities.
The MWCT is about pioneering partnership between professional conservationists and dynamic young Maasai leaders to show that the Maasai community can thrive, not just survive, by managing their ecosystem wisely.
MWCT funds and operates programs that promote sustainable economic benefits from conserving this ecosystem. Lease payments for conservancy zones, carbon credits, payments for watershed protection, sustainable eco-tourism, wildlife monitoring and security, conservation and tourism employment: these are just some of the ways MWCT is creating a cutting edge model of successful community-based conservation.