A special moment in time as Elewana Elsa’s Kopje celebrates its 20th Anniversary with Actress Virginia McKenna from Born Free.
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Elewana Elsa’s Kopje celebrated its 20th Anniversary at the beginning of July with a very special guest of honour, Virginia McKenna who joined guests for a number of special events that took place from the 3rd to 6th July 2019.

The camp is named after Elsa, the lioness upon who the film Born Free was based, and is located on the Mughwango Hill (Kopje) above the site of the original campsite where Joy and George Adamson raised Elsa the lioness. Virginia continues to work tirelessly on campaigns through the Born Free charity that she founded, including ongoing conservation projects in Meru National Park.

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James Haigh, Director of Sales and Marketing, The Elewana Collection comments “We feel extremely privileged that Virginia joined us at Elewana Elsa’s Kopje to celebrate the 20th anniversary. Virginia was the guest of honour at the opening of the property 20 years ago, so it is very fitting that she joins us this year. We also celebrated the hard work that has been invested by staff and guests at Elewana Elsa’s Kopje. With over 20 years in conservation, sustainability and helping the surrounding communities, it is testament to this work that Elsa’s and the surrounding area has thrived over the last 20 years”.

Born Free is a 1966 British drama film starring Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as Joy and George Adamson, a real-life couple who raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya. Born Free, and its musical score by John Barry, won numerous awards.

Some of the highlights from the three days included guests being treated to a special sundowner on George’s Rock, where George Adamson often took Elsa the lioness for her afternoon walk. As the sun set it was time to head back to camp, where Virginia gave a presentation and spoke about her role in the Born Free movie and how it led to the Born Free Foundation. The evening ended with dinner under the stars and the sounds of the African bush. On the second day, guests had an opportunity to speak with Virginia, while enjoying morning tea and a chance to get their Born Free books signed then in the evening guests were able to watch the film Born Free, which is credited with popularising the concept of animal conservation. The last day started with an early morning game drive followed by a special bush breakfast near the grave of Elsa. Later in the afternoon, everyone went down to the site of George’s old camp below the kopje and Virginia retold stories from long ago. The chefs had made a lovely 20th Anniversary cake, and after dinner all the staff trouped out onto the lawn singing Happy Birthday! The cake was presented to Virginia to cut, and then shared among guests and staff alike. Many of the staff have been at Elsa’s Kopje since the beginning and remember Virginia McKenna from the launch in July 1999.

It was an exceptional few days remembering some of the key mile stones in Meru’s history and enjoying the beauty this incredible area has to offer. Everyone left with memories that they will treasure for many years to come, having shared a very special moment in history with us.

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Elewana Elsa’s Kopje is the only permanent lodge in the area where guests can easily enjoy the 215,000 acre Meru National Park and rhino sanctuary, well known for large elephant herds, lion and birdlife and a huge diversity of species, pretty much to themselves. Heralded as one of Africa’s most iconic and elegant lodges, every room is unique in design but all enjoy the breath-taking vistas that reach as far as Mount Kenya, the Nyambeni Hills and the Eastern Plains. Six spacious cottages, one family cottage, three honeymoon cottages and a private house compliment a magnificent bar and dining area, along with an infinity pool and massage cottage, both with spectacular outlooks over the surrounding park.

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An Evening with Virginia Mckenna

Virginia talks about what it was like to play Joy Adamson in the 1966 film - Born Free, The Born Free Foundation, Meru being her second home, the strong spirit of Elsa the lioness that lives on here and our natural environment.

Interview with George - The General Manager

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