We are delighted that we have been able to retain a footprint of camps and lodges that remain open in some of Kenya and Tanzania’s most popular regions. In Tanzania, Arusha Coffee Lodge and Serengeti Pioneer Camp remain open and in Kenya, we are welcoming guests at Sand River Masai Mara, Lewa Safari Camp, AfroChic Diani Beach and Tortilis Camp Amboseli. Kifaru House at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy remains open for full buyouts. All properties are adhering to Elewana’s Essential Elements to ensure that the guest experience is as safe and enjoyable as possible.
It goes without saying that most people will be pleased to see the back of 2020 so why not see it off in style with a festive break in the bush or on the beach. With rooms still available at Elewana Collection properties, coupled with historically low prices for this time of year, now is a great time to book that dream holiday to share with those that you love. Whether it be a visit from Santa, themed dinners or New Year’s Day pool volleyball with cocktails, the Elewana Collection has this festive season sorted.
Guests at Elewana AfroChic can enjoy a barmy Christmas Eve under the coconut trees with live music before welcoming Santa in the sunshine on Christmas Day to deliver a beach bag stuffed with goodies. On New Year’s Eve there will be a live band until midnight when the party will move to the beach for champagne and a chance to marvel at the fireworks along the coastline. Hopefully, guests will muster enough energy for pool cocktails and volleyball on New Year’s Day.
Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge has booked in Father Christmas for the kids on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve revellers will be treated to a Tanzanian themed party complete with a Serengeti, Masai Mara and Ngorongoro course dinner. At Elewana Serengeti Pioneer Camp, revellers will enjoy a Christmas Day cocktail party at lounge rocks with unparalleled views across the Serengeti Plains and a Swahili themed barbeque dinner. There will also be insightful talks on the lions and cheetah that roam the surrounding land.
In Kenya, Elewana Lewa Safari Camp is planning special bush breakfasts and sundowners and guests will see in the New Year under a starlit sky by the campfire, completely undisturbed by any light pollution and set to the chorus of the surrounding nocturnal wildlife. Elewana Tortilis Camp will arrange Christmas Day bitings and sangria by the pool before a Swahili ‘Nyama Choma’ barbeque lunch.
At Elewana Sand River Masai Mara Masai, warriors will treat guests to a Christmas Eve display of song and dance around the campfire, whilst New Year’s Eve will involve a ‘gin bar’ atop a hill in the National Park with a big sky panorama as the backdrop for the sun to set on 2020.
Whilst some of Elewana Collection properties will remain closed during these challenging times, activity on site will certainly not remain dormant. We are taking advantage of this window to implement upgrades and refurbishments so when the properties re-open in the (hopefully near) future we will be welcoming guests to an enhanced experience.
Structural renovation work will take place to the tree houses at Elewana Tarangire Treetops making the access more user-friendly and accessible. Furniture and soft furnishings will also receive an upgrade.
Guests at Elewana Kilindi are in for an even ‘cooler’ experience as rooms are to be fitted with 24 000 BTU air conditioning to enable the whole room to be efficiently ventilated. Modifications will take place to ensure that better AC performance does not take away from the spectacular views.
Shanga is a self-sustaining social enterprise based in Arusha, the gateway to the Northern Tanzania safari circuit, which runs an interactive creative workshop employing people with disabilities to create beautiful products made from mostly recycled materials.
Choose from a variety of soft, brightly coloured scarves, wraps, Masai shukas and blankets all made from locally grown cotton. There is also tailoring, where the underlying theme is to repurpose fabric such as the delightful “mummy and baby” elephant cushions made from used men’s’ business shirts.
Beautifully crafted jewellery is designed using traditional Masai beading techniques and made with stunning glass beads sourced from recycled wine and spirit bottles. Glassware is hand blown and available in a rainbow of colours that will add a touch of style to festive tables. There is also a selection of trinkets that will bring a little piece of Tanzania to any Christmas tree around the world.
Gigi Seasons, is a seasonal home decor and lifestyle brand grounded in social good. Through their philanthropic arm, Gigi Cares: Projects for Humanity, they strive to provide others with the tools they need to live better lives. They have partnered with Land & Life to raise funds that will make a difference to communities in Kenya and Tanzania.
In February this year, they provided Land & Life with over $20,000 which was used to build a new, modern kitchen for Ganako Primary near Elewana The Manor, Ngorongoro. Part of these funds were also used to purchase 40 metallic desks for Kachiuru Primary School in Isiolo.
Last month, Gigi Seasons gave another very generous gift of $35,000 that will go towards constructing a new classroom and plumbing works for Morijo Primary School, near Loisaba Conservancy as well as build a school administration block that will contain offices and a staff room for Kachiuru Primary School teachers.
Loisaba Conservancy was recently granted permission by the Kenya Wildlife Service to establish Kenya’s newest Rhino Sanctuary. Thanks to this new agreement, the team at Loisaba Conservancy will now be able to reintroduce Eastern Black Rhino to an area where they used to roam. For a half century, rhinos were absent from Loisaba Conservancy due to being poached out in the early ‘70’s. Now, after 50 years, the return of this megafauna represents a huge conservation win for Loisaba Conservancy and future guests of Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp, Elewana Loisaba Star Beds and Elewana Loisaba Lodo Springs who may experience black rhino sightings.
In other news, Loisaba has also just taken a lead role in rolling out SMART, the Special Monitoring and Reporting Tool which measures wildlife numbers and patrol efforts across the county’s landscape. Loisaba started using the ground-breaking tool in 2017 and has been developing it and training other conservancies in the area to start using it. The open source, non-proprietary, and freely available innovative software is designed to assist rangers on the ground with their efforts to stop poachers and the illegal trade of wildlife. For Loisaba, it has proven useful in measuring, evaluating and improving efficiencies of wildlife law enforcement patrols and site-based conservation activities, in addition to curbing unlawful grazing and ending poaching and illegal wildlife trading.
Harvest time has arrived in Tanzania and farmers in the communities around Randlien Wildlife Management Area (WMA) have reported their crop protection kits have once again proved successful. As a thank you to the incredible work that the WMA team has done for the community and their support in providing the valuable toolkits, the farmers collectively offered 12 sacks of grain to the WMA rangers.
The crop protection teams also held an end-of-season meeting to exchange best practices, ideas and challenges in order to improve the crop protection plan for next year. The crop protection toolkits are a solid testament to how communities are able to coexist with wildlife in a harmonious way.
Elewana Sand River Masai Mara recently won Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Award as the top property in Kenya, #26 in the World and #7 in Africa. We spoke with Stephen Miinge, Sand River’s Assistant GM, about the latest accolades and this stunning property.
Congratulations on the win! What do you think makes Elewana Sand River Masai Mara stand out as a property to guests?
This win affirms the trust and loyalty we have established with our esteemed guests. The global recognition has come during an unprecedented time of minimal travelling and showcases the huge effort the camp has put in to ensure that every aspect of the guest experience is carefully taken care of.
From the first moment to the last, every aspect of a guest’s experience is tailor made. We aim to not only make them feel at home with us but also to exceed their expectations. This begins early with the booking process. We have an excellent reservation system which ensures our reservation team delivers every last detail of a guest’s preferences and expectations, allowing us to deliver on our promises.
We strive to make a guest’s stay as memorable as possible so that they never want to leave. We take into consideration our guests' varying cultures, their preferences and any special occasions they might be celebrating. For repeat guests, long stayers and those celebrating special events like birthdays, honeymooners and anniversaries, we have special Elewana signature elements which could be a gift from the gift shop, a cake, a bottle of sparkling wine or a special dining experience just to name a few.
What makes your staff stand out?
Our staff are passionate, professional, flexible and have a can-do attitude. An American songwriter once said “Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate". Guests feel our enthusiasm every time they meet a member of our staff, as our team genuinely enjoys and loves the work that they do. You have to love to be in this industry as it has its tough moments, but the resilient and charming characters we employ shine through in these moments. Our service design is flexible and curated so guests who travel from all over the world feel at home.
What do you think are the property’s strongest selling points?
Thankfully, Elewana Sand River enjoys a beautiful secluded location to view the great wildebeest migration. The camp is unfenced which means we are at one with nature. You never know what you will see in the camp! This makes your stay here a little more exciting. The tents are all located next to the Sand River, making for incredible views not only of the river and its ever changing water, but also views of the Serengeti plains and the Tanzanian hills. We are known for our unique sightings within camp and the area we are based in has very few to almost no other game vehicles, hence the feeling of absolute exclusivity.
What is your favourite part of the property?
It would have to be the Little Sand River deck. Every day here in camp is different and comes with its own challenges, so in the evening you can easily find me seated in a canvas chair overlooking the plains and taking in the views, unwinding with my favourite sundowner. The view relaxes me and energizes me for another great day.
At times, I can spot hippos or a gorgeous sunset and as an avid photography fan, I like to take some great shots and post them on my social media pages.
What do you consider to be the best aspects of your job?
I meet travellers from all walks of life who have different beliefs and cultures, which is wonderful. This requires a good amount of flexibility and empathy for people who need different types of service. My goal is to make a guest’s stay memorable.
What are some unique experiences that guests can have while on property?
There are quite a few! We can organize a poolside dinner under the stars with lanterns and a bonfire to keep you warm or a ‘wine drop’, which is a unique sundowner in an exclusive romantic setting where guests, especially couples, enjoy a bottle of wine and light bites while watching the sunset. We also like to organize special barbeque dinners featuring local cuisine for small groups.
What changes have been implemented since the reopening in August?
Along with implementing our new company-wide policies and enhanced personalized attention, we now offer afternoon high tea and snack service at the bar with a butler who takes orders for guests favourite tea and snacks while they relax.
Any interesting/exciting wildlife experiences in the months since you’ve reopened?
Most of our guests always ask to see the Sand River and Black Rock lion prides. It’s interesting to learn about the dynamics of these two different prides around the camp, given that lions are highly territorial. Right now, it seems the prides have new males taking over. We have seen the Sand River pride split and the females have been seen in the last month around camp with their cubs, which has been very special. We also had a pair of leopards mating which guests saw for almost a week consecutively, which was incredible.
After being grounded for 8 months, Elewana Collection’s US Sales Representative, Jane Behrend, is preparing for a month long journey through Kenya exploring the properties. As she prepares for her departure later this month, she shares her top travel tips.
The question on everyone’s mind is “What is it like to travel in Kenya right now?” Well, it’s actually much safer than one would expect. In preparing for your trip, you need to make sure you complete two documents to present to Kenyan authorities upon arrival, together with completing a Visa form online.
The first mandatory document is a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours prior to arrival in Kenya. This is what is known as the “fit to fly” test. The second document is a Ministry of Health form, which once completed, generates a QR code. The health form can be downloaded here. I’ve completed both forms and will have them available both electronically and printed out, as one never knows when technology will fail.
For the Kenya Visa, the Kenyan government strongly urges people to complete the visa online prior to arrival to avoid long lines and wait time. The in-person visa application upon arrival in Nairobi will be allowed until December 31, 2020 but after that, it will be mandatory for all international travellers to complete the visa online. The online process will allow for peace of mind and less wait time after a long international flight.
I’m bringing several extra masks as I’ll be taking domestic flights which require fresh masks for each leg, as well as for the bush flights. I also plan to travel with antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizer. All Elewana Collection properties provide these items, but I find it’s always helpful to have my own back-up.
Kenya was the first country globally to receive the “Safer tourism” seal by Rebuilding Travel at the end of August 2020 so I feel very safe in that the country implemented all the best in international protocol to reopen successfully. Also, all Elewana Collection properties received the safe travel stamp by the WTTC in early July 2020 and an opening certificate, so they were early adaptors to these safety standards. Elewana’s properties have adopted all new measures with temperature checks daily, visible sanitizers, rigorous additional cleaning, along with highly monitored staff testing and rotation.
Dining will be the area which has changed most, but the new standards allow for more personalized service which I’m very much looking forward to. From what I hear from my other colleagues who have just got back, everything else is pretty "normal" and of course, safari is the ultimate social distance trip.
I’m very excited to be in Kenya and look forward to sharing more details about my experience once I’m back in December.
We are still celebrating the fact that the Elewana Collection was recognised with five prestigious Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice Awards including Elewana Sand River as the top rated property in Kenya winning 7th in Africa and 26th in the World. We would be extremely grateful if you could share this news with your customers. To help, we have created a Dropbox with videos and images that you can use across your media platforms. Please click here to access the folder.
To celebrate International Chef’s Day, the teams in the Elewana kitchens rallied together for a Great Elewana Bake Off. Showcased on the Elewana social media channels, there were some delicious results. The Kitchen at Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge cooked seeded sour dough bread using a 2000 year old technique that requires no yeast, whereas the Elewana Loisaba Star Beds team opted for mandazis, a delicious doughnut-like confection that originated on the Swahilli coast.
Elewana Sand River Masai Mara produced an extraordinary signature bake of a delicious vanilla and lime sponge cake, topped with some beautifully creative decorations; followed by a delicious tray of cinnamon buns for teatime; and finished off with show-stopping chocolate cupcakes, topped with strawberry icing and a chocolate dipped strawberry. Below are some recipes for you to try at home:
Elewana Sand River Vanilla & Lime Sponge Cake
Elewana Sand River’s Cinnamon Buns
CINNAMON BUN DOUGH
Elewana Sand River Cupcakes
If you are attending USTOA Virtual this year please schedule an appointment with Ana Kammerer from the Emerging Destinations team. Ana will be there representing Elewana and our sister companies SkySafari, Cheli & Peacock Safaris and Sopa Lodges. We look forward to seeing you there.
Elewana Elephant Pepper Camp Masai Mara has been awarded Kenya's Leading Tented Safari Camp in this year’s World Travel Awards. We’re proud of our camp’s staff and management for this fantastic win. A record number of voters cast their ballot, showing signs that consumers are eager to get back to traveling to their favourite destinations. We were honoured to participate in the World Travel Awards inaugural Africa Winners Day on the 9th November, which showcased the very best of the region’s travel and tourism sector to the world.
Located in the Mara North Conservancy, Elephant Pepper Camp is the perfect base to explore the heart of the Masai Mara ecosystem. The camp’s remote location allows guests to enjoy the wonders of the Mara in absolute intimacy, whilst being pampered with traditional and modern comforts.