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, and our goal is to connect local youths to their own environments as travelers and 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, see the sites, have fun, and make the kind of travel memories we take for granted. Here’s just one example of Buy a Trip, Give a Trip in action:
In Laikipia County, Kenya, students from two primary schools, Muramati and Mukima, took an excursion to El Karama Lodge to become inspired environmental advocates. While at the lodge, the children joined the Leo Project’s Conservation Club to learn ways to safeguard our planet and its invaluable resources. For many of these students, living near conservancies and protected areas did not necessarily afford them the privilege to witness wildlife up close. This year marks the second time we’ve run this particular Buy A Trip, Give A Trip excursion, and it has once again been a great success.
“Last year, I missed the trip to El Karama, and I am so excited I got to visit today. My friends shared their experiences, and I could not believe most of it, but today, I more than believe! The experience was unforgettable. Seeing the elephants, baboons, impalas, giraffes and zebras was a dream come true. I have never seen a wild animal in my life. I cannot wait to share this experience with my family and friends.” – Kinoti, Muramati Primary School.
On September 13 and 14, 2023, the students of Laikipia East journeyed north to El Karama Lodge, situated within of El Karama Wildlife Conservancy. While this group of children have a good understanding of the environment and wildlife, many of them have never encountered wild animals firsthand. The students were filled with both eagerness and curiosity; their excitement knew no bounds when they spotted elephants on their way from the lodge.
“How do you help animals when there is no rain?” “How do you get close to a sick elephant to treat it?” were some of the kids’ questions. Sophie Grant, owner, operator, and guide at El Karama Lodge, along with Ranger Joseph, enthusiastically spoke about water harvesting, waste management, and wildlife protection. Sophie says, “To ensure communities protect wildlife, we have to educate and empower them on why wildlife is worth keeping.”
“Visiting El Karama made me realize that we are not the only ones affected by the drying rivers and impacts of human activities upstream on the rivers. The wildlife too is suffering, and there is much we can do to educate communities around us.” – Kinoti, Mukima Primary School.
The Buy A Trip, Give A Trip outings to El Karama Lodge have proven to be incredibly enriching experiences for the students of Muramati and Mukima Primary Schools. The journey into the heart of El Karama Wildlife Conservancy has instilled a sense of excitement and curiosity and cultivated a deep appreciation for the environment, wildlife, and the critical role each of us plays in their protection.
As well as providing a firsthand connection with the animal kingdom; these trips have also sown the seeds of future conservationists. Young minds like Kanana, Derrick, and Kinoti now harbor aspirations to protect and study wildlife after becoming inspired by the rangers they met. The students have come to understand that a career in wildlife conservation is not a mere fantasy but a tangible path they can follow.
“I have always seen rangers on TV and thought they are made up characters, just like in the cartoons. I am so thrilled to meet Joseph and understand his role as a ranger. Now I know it is an actual career path I can take. I love wildlife so I would love to monitor and protect them, just like Joseph does.” – Kanana, Muramati Primary School
“Today, I have learnt that understanding animal behavior is important if we want to coexist peacefully with wildlife. I will actually start by watching our goats and cows at home and see whether I can understand why they do some of the things they do as I study hard so that I can study Wildlife Management in the future.” – Derrick, Muramati Primary School
El Karama Lodge is an intimate, owner-operated, award-winning lodge and safari adventure experience located on a private wildlife conservancy in the foothills of Mount Kenya.
Started in honor of Caitlin O’Hara, The Leo Project is a 501 c3 organization in Nanyuki, Kenya, dedicated to equitable access to education and healthcare.
Read about other Buy A Trip, Give A Trip experiences.