Reviews of Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Great stay, great project
Il Ngwesi was the initial spur for us to visit Laikipia, after a presentation on the community-based project as a whole in London last February, which impressed us. The lodge is run by and on behalf of the local Masai community, combining protecting wildlife with cattle and goat farming, training members of the community to equip them to work locally and more widely in the tourist/safari industry, and bringing money into the community as a whole to aid education and development. Having spent four nights there, we are in no doubt that this is a project well worthy of support and have no hesitation in strongly recommending it.
In writing the following detailed comments, we would note that in both relative and absolute terms the overnight rate at Il Ngwesi is very affordable and excellent value for money.
We actually stayed in two rooms - two nights in each - not because of any fault with our original accommodation but because, half-way through our stay, a room with a sleeping deck 'under the stars' became available and management offered to move us there, which we accepted. Both rooms were rustically pleasant and comfortable with good showers: sleeping under the stars was a real treat.
The staff at the camp were all extremely welcoming and hospitable and we were very well looked after. Particular commendation goes to James, who not only oversees the running of the camp but who is also an excellent guide and very good company (as well as being the presenter in London who first inspired us to want to visit).
In marking food as 'average' (see below), we would underline that we are taking a numerically literal interpretation of the word, especially relative to the other camps at which we stayed this trip. And we would stress that the meals were wholesome, tasty and plentiful. A little more imagination - and, perhaps, a little more leisurely pace between courses - could easily see this rating improve.
Our dominant activity was walking/birding. The walks were consistently enjoyable (including the climb to the top of the hill behind the camp) and the bird population in the area was huge - great time of year to visit with many resident birds nesting and migrants in the area. As for mammals, since this was the early part of the dry season, sightings were regular rather than abundant: but we still did well - especially for elephants. Our hopes for first ever sightings of vulterine guinea fowl and the remarkable gerenuk were realised (in both cases) within minutes of arriving.
Our afternoon at a local Masai village, followed by dinner, was fascinating. We were very well hosted by a young local, Peter, aspiring to go on to university shortly - and therefore himself a beneficiary of the project which has helped finance him through secondary education. We learnt a great deal not only about Masai history and traditions but also about the aspirations of the community, building on dialogue throughout our stay with the staff at the camp. There were also some very interesting comparisons to draw later between the way the Il Ngwesi project operates and the approach adopted by the other two community-based camps at which we stayed during this trip.