Community & Conservation


In the 1980′s and 90′s, poachers slaughtered many of the elephants in Meru National Park and rhinos were completely eradicated from the area. The park’s infrastructure was deadened with a horrendous blow to conservation. Tourism plummeted and rumours circulated that the government was at the point of de-proclaiming the park. Despite the park’s state of despair, with a passion for this beautiful wilderness, Stefano & Liz Cheli believed that they could build a successful lodge to secure Meru’s future existence. They entered into discussion with KWS in 1993 and after four years of negotiating, they received the approval. Since the lodge was built in 1999, Meru National Park has experienced a steady increase in tourist numbers, from 3,500 in 1999 to 15,200 in 2009 and now has a reputation as one of the best wilderness areas on the safari circuit. Elsa’s Kopje contributes to the KWS through lease payments and park fees, which amounted to US$ 76,080 and US$ 150,479 respectively in 2011 alone.

The generation of these funds has triggered restorative action by the KWS and infrastructure and security networks have been implemented, including a 24 hour rhino surveillance which was introduced in 2003 and a specialised poaching intelligence unit, with vastly effective poaching reduction results. At least 1,350 animals have been successfully translocated to Meru, including reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, impala, Bohors reedbuck, leopard and elephant. The rich diversity also includes more than 400 bird species. KWS has also installed a 20,750 acre rhino sanctuary which now protects a population of over 70 white and black rhino. All this considered, Elsa’s Kopje has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to ensuring that Meru National Park is once again a viable conservation area.
Sustainable Tourism

Elsa’s Kopje has been awarded “Silver Level” by the internationally recognised Ecotourism society in recognition of its high level of environmental responsibility; and it was the first lodge in Kenya to receive an eco-rating. The lodge consumes a minimum amount of energy through investments in LED and energy saving bulbs, solar water heaters and power to supplement the generator, limiting diesel generator use to only 6 hours per day. To limit our carbon footprint, wherever possible, our fresh produce is sourced from the farmers on the borders of the park and local traders and timber used by the camp is taken from renewable sources. Rubbish is responsibly disposed of or recycled and separated glass is sold to the recycling plant ‘Central Glass’ in Nairobi.


Being able to really make a difference to the lives of children in a rural community can be a life changing experience and unforgettable memory from your safari in Kenya.

Elsa’s Kopje and the Cheli & Peacock Community Trust have been working closely with the Head Teacher of the Ura Gate Primary School (just 45 minutes’ drive from Elsa’s) since May 2011 to identify and address the school’s most urgent needs.

Ura Gate Primary caters for 480 students aged 6-14, very few of whom had any access to text books when we initiated our support programme. However, thanks to the generosity of a great number of Elsa’s visitors between May and October 2011, we were able to donate all 729 school text books requested by the Ura Gate Primary School Head Teacher. We were then able to address the school’s next priority, raising an additional KES 393,000 to repair and reconstruct 3 poorly finished stone classrooms.

Get Involved

Ura Gate Primary School

During your stay at Elsa’s Kopje, you have an opportunity to help achieve the next milestone at Ura Gate Primary School – the construction of a kitchen and dining area. We now have bags of cement for ‘sale’ in the Elsa’s Kopje gift shop for $10 each, so you can contribute by ‘buying’ one, two, or as many as you like, to help us raise the additional funds needed for this project.

Investing in their children’s nutrition, the parents recently bought a fuel-efficient stove large enough to cook for all 480 pupils. They also built a makeshift kitchen, but this was blown away in a storm in September. Without proper protection, the valuable stove is now exposed to severe weather damage.

The capacity to cook in rural schools greatly encourages support from government feeding programmes, which in turn improves student attendance as struggling parents bring their children to school where they are fed every day.

If you donate a bag or two of cement, you will not only help ensure that the girls and boys at Ura Gate Primary are well fed in the long term, but are well educated too.

To find out more about how you can get involved, please contact us.

If you are considering bringing donations from abroad, visit the Pack for a Purpose website for very specific advice on what is needed. Please do note that when flying within Kenya, the internal flight weight restriction is 15kg and may therefore limit what you can carry with you to the camps and donate to the rural communities in person. We can always, however, donate anything over and above your weight limit on your behalf at a later date.