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Not far from the Buffalo Springs National Reserve in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District, Sasaab is a joint venture between The Safari Collection, Westgate Community Conservancy and The Northern Rangelands Trust. With far-reaching views across the Laikipia Plateau towards Mount Kenya, the reserve is home to the ‘Samburu Special Five’— beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk antelope and Somali ostrich.
Designed to bring together conservation, communities, and tourism, Sasaab helps to ensure that the Samburu community plays an active role in the conservation of endangered species and benefits from tourism. In consultation with the Westgate Community board, Sasaab supports health and education projects that improve the lives of over 600 families. Since concerted community conservation efforts started in 2004, large mammals such as giraffes and lions are more frequently cited in the area.
Perched on a rocky outcrop in the heart of Samburu, overlooking the impressive Ewaso Nyiro River, Sasaab provides an intimate safari setting. The nine Moroccan-style rooms have open-air bathrooms and private plunge pools. While wildlife is the main draw, witnessing the Samburu culture and getting to know local people is a key part of the Sasaab experience. Sasaab minimises its environmental impact too — through initiatives like solar power, waste-water management and organic composting.
Sasaab joined The Long Run in 2015 and committed to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.
As one of the few Gold Eco-Rated lodges in Kenya, Sasaab strives to minimise its impact on the environment and wildlife, utilising environmentally friendly technologies such as solar power, waste water and solid waste management systems, organic composting for fertilizers, as well as the use of eco-detergents.
Sasaab also provides support to the management of the Westgate Community Conservancy. This area plays a critical role in wildlife conservation particularly as a dispersal area for wildlife from Samburu National Reserve. It has seasonal concentrations of up to 500 endangered Grevy’s zebra on grassland habitat to the north and provides important water and grazing resources for breeding herds. Westgate is also a corridor for elephants migrating between the Matthews Ranges and Laikipia and it provides a refuge for the larger, older bull elephants. With the conservation efforts that the community has put in place since 2004, large mammals such as Reticulated giraffe have returned to the area. Wild dogs, and other large predators in particular leopards, are also regularly sighted and lions frequently move from the protected area of the national reserve into Westgate.
The Samburu community living next to Sasaab is key in the preservation of the wilderness area and the wildlife, however they are one of the poorest communities in the country with limited access to health care and education.
Sasaab has a far-reaching and comprehensive program of community development projects to help address the issues being faced and assist the Westgate Community to succeed both economically and socially.
In consultation with the Westgate Community board we have concentrated on supporting health and education projects that have been designed to maximize our input to both community and conservation simultaneously.
During a safari, it is often the interaction with the Samburu people living on Westgate Community Conservancy that leaves our guests with indelible memories and the most meaningful impression of their holiday.
Proud of their culture and traditions, the Samburu still cherish and retain the customs and ceremonies of their forbears.
Receiving a warm Samburu welcome from smiling children at a local village and witnessing the daily chores of life in a semi arid environment, is a humbling and educational, yet truly rewarding experience for any traveller.
The Sasaab partnership between The Safari Collection, The Westgate Community and The Northern Rangelands Trust combines tourism with wildlife conservation and community development, to protect and enhance livelihoods.
Westgate Community Conservancy is home to over six hundred Samburu families and their livestock. As the population increases and people and wildlife compete for the same space, it is key that the communities feel the economic benefits of tourism and conservation, and continue to assure the future of the wildlife and the land as a conservation entity.
Through the payment of bed night and conservation fees and local employment policies, Sasaab makes a significant contribution to the running costs of the Westgate Community Conservancy, as well as community based programs such a micro-finance schemes and bursaries.