Reviews of Tassia Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
A 'rare gem' indeed
Moving on from our initial four nights at il Ngwesi, we took a ninety minute leisurely drive to another community-based project in the area, Tassia.
Expert Africa's description of Tassia as 'a rare gem' is, in our view, totally justified. Managed with great expertise and warm hospitality by Antonia and Martin on behalf of the local community, it genuinely warrants 'excellent' ratings across the board.
Our sleeping accommodation was very comfortable, great views across the plain (especially from our tower) and good bathroom facilities. The lounge area is spacious and comfortable. We took meals in a number of different locations around the camp, which was fun, sometimes with other guests, sometimes by ourselves, which was a nice mix. And the food itself was first class, consistent with Antonia's well-deserved reputation (and the camp's own cook book).
In addition to her camp-based work, Antonia is involved in a number of important income-generating projects with the women of the local community, including high-end bead work (handbags etc), which are well worthy of support. The commitment of both Antonia and Martin to the objectives of the project is impressive, as is the expertise which they both bring to their role.
Needless to say, as birders we also commend very highly Martin's work at his raptor rescue centre based at the camp and well worth a tour in its own right.
Our main activity was again walking/birding (indeed, the camp does very little by way of drives - although it does have horses and camels, consistent with the strong focus on eco-friendliness). Especially considering how close Tassia is to Il Ngwesi, we were struck by some significant differences in the local bird population, which made combining the two locales all the more interesting (ie in addition to comparing the way in which the Tassia project runs with Il Ngwesi and, later, Sarara). We did particularly well for raptors.
The major exception to walking was the day trip we made across the mountains behind the camp to Borana Ranch on the Laikipia plateau, where we boosted both our bird (notably water birds) and mammal (notably lion and black rhino) count significantly. Even though time did not permit us as long a walk in the cloud forest on the mountains themselves as we had hoped, this was an excellent day.
We also devoted an evening walk to local culture, visiting the caves which provided shelter to many Masai for much of the 20th century, learning a good deal more about their history and culture in the process.
We were guided at various times by Martin himself (brilliant, especially on birds) and by two Masai, Michael (very good on birds) and, in particular, Isaiah (solid all-rounder), learning a good deal from all three not only about the wildlife and environment but also about the Masai generally, their history and the project.
In sum, we have no hesitation in strongly recommending Tassia both in its own right and as part of a wider tour of the Laikipia region.