Congratulations to Kenya’s Eco-Warrior Award Winners!

Lion in the Masaai Mara - Image by Ahmas AlZarouni (instagram)

The winners of the 10th Eco-Warrior Award were announced during a colourful dinner held at the Leisure Lodge and Golf Resort in Diani on the 16th of October 2015. Launched by Ecotourism Kenya in 2005, the Eco-Warrior Awards honour creativity, celebrate responsible tourism practices, and inspire innovative actions to protect the environment and integrate local people into the business of tourism.

A total of 7 winners and 2 Judges Recognition were announced in the following categories of the 2015 Eco-Warrior Award:

2015 Ecotourism Community Conservancy of the Year Winner: Naboisho Conservancy
Naboisho Conservancy was recognized for their innovative approach in conserving and protecting wildlife areas while making conservation economically beneficial to the community through sustainable tourism practices.

2015 Ecotourism Community-Owned Enterprise of the Year Winner: Ngare Ndare Forest Trust
Ngare Ndare was recognized for their role in the establishment of a public/private partnership between the local community and the Kenya Forest Service. The initiative has made conservation economically viable to the local community.

2015 Ecotourism Tour Operator of the Year Winner: Gamewatchers Safaris
The 2015 Eco Warrior Award judges recognized Gamewatchers Safaris for their excellent approach to conserve and protect wildlife areas through partnership formed with the local communities.

2015 Ecotourism Safari Airline of the Year Winner: Safarilink Aviation
Safarilink Aviation was recognized for their diverse conservation projects where they demonstrated a well-structured project funding policy. Some of the projects that they fund include Lewa, Colubus Trust and tree planting initiatives with Mt. Kenya Trust.

2015 Ecotourism Eco-rated Hotel of the Year winner: Baobab Beach Resort and Spa, Diani
The award recognized Baobab Beach Resort and Spa for their outstanding documentation and implementation of suitability practices through a clear policy with targets on their sustainability investments.

2015 Ecotourism Eco-rated Tented Camp of the Year Winner: Tortilis Camp
Tortilis Camp was recognized for its commitment to sound environmental practices, conservation and creation of opportunities for improved livelihood of the local community.

2015 Ecotourism Eco-rated Lodge of the Year Winner: Sirikoi Lodge
Eco-friendly Sirikoi was recognized for among other sustainability practices, its innovative ways in community and staff empowerment, well-documented impacts of conservation investments and a clear policy that guides their sustainability initiatives with a target.

2015 Ecotourism Private Conservancy of the Year: Ol Pejeta Conservancy – Judge’s Award
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes, and to generate income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprises for re-investment in conservation and communities. Today, Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa, and home to three of the world’s last remaining northern white rhino. It is the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees, in a Sanctuary established to rehabilitate animals rescued from the black market. It has some of the highest predator densities in Kenya, and still manages a very successful livestock programme. Ol Pejeta also seeks to support the people living around its borders, to ensure wildlife conservation translates to better education, healthcare and infrastructure for the next generation of wildlife guardians.

2015 Tourism Training Institute of the Year: Amboseli Institute of Hospitality and Technology – Judge’s Award
Amboseli Institute of Hospitality and Technology is a middle level institution that was established in 1996 on a foundation of commitment to quality and excellence. Being in a dynamic hospitality and tourism industry, the institution has to remain focused and flexible in order to maintain market leadership and quality.

It’s fantastic to see so many Kenyan tourism partners invested in eco-tourism. ACTS Africa salutes you!

Feature image by Ahmas AlZarouni (instagram)

A New Way Forward for the Maasai Mara

2015_09_10-On the Deck-Newsletter

The Maasai Mara is Kenya’s signature tourism destination, yet it is often criticized for receiving too many visitors, its sprawling trading centres with rising numbers of people and livestock, and the huge amount of unregulated camps and lodges.

In response to these concerns, a new collaborative partnership is developing. Driven by the umbrella regional organization, Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA), the collaboration will forge a new way forward, promoting a tourism experience in the conservancies worthy of the global brand of the Maasai
Mara.

Representatives of Mara conservancies planning for new Maasai Mara strategies (photo by Daniel Hernandez Salazar)

Last week, in the middle of the Mara, representatives from the Mara conservancies joined with other key parties like private Maasai landowners, the Mara tourism sector, Maasai Mara University, international conservation NGOs, Kenya Wildlife Service, and Narok County Government to develop a vision and road map to tackle some of the major issues facing Kenya’s crown jewel.

The forum, organized by MMWCA in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, identified both challenges and potential solutions to the issues faced by the Maasai Mara region. Everything was considered from the rising population of people, to the quality of the grasslands for grazing, and the decline of the Mara-Loita wildebeest migration, which scientific research has shown to have been reduced by 82%.

We’re proud to say that ACTS Africa Director, Sean Anderson, has joined the forum in his role as Chairman of Naboisho Conservancy. Established in 2010, the Naboisho Conservancy protects 51,000 acres of land and benefits 554 Maasai landowners.

Strategic planning (photo by Daniel Hernandez Salazar)

Sean believes that the forum is incredibly important in terms of developing a framework for a Conservation Plan. He explains, “Since the beginning of Naboisho, I’ve been involved as a tourism partner. I’ve been absolutely blown away by the vision of the local community, bringing together investors and landowners as one team to create a business model that is cutting edge, providing quality eco- and community-based tourism. All the conservancies, communities, and tourist operators across the greater Mara face the same challenges. From a tourism perspective, if we are going to succeed in creating a world-class product for Kenya, that is regarded as a priority safari destination for tourists, then we have to have a plan bringing us all together on the same page and making us pull in the same direction. This week we will have created the basis for that plan”.

We are excited to follow the MMWCA’s progress in the Maasai Mara!

Do you think this forum will be of benefit to tourism and conservation in the Maasai Mara? Let us know your thought in the comments below.

Photographs credited to Daniel Hernandez Salazar

Bikes & Birds at Brackenhurst

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Brackenhurst Birdwatching

Around ten years ago, Brackenhurst began an intensive indigenous forest restoration project. As such, the bird list around the grounds has jumped from about 30 resident species to well over 140.  Possible species on your walk around Brackenhurst include 12 different sunbird species including the sought after Golden-winged Sunbird, as well as the near endemic Hunter’s Cisticola, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill and many more.

Brackenhurst, in conjunction with African Birding Safaris, is now offering guided bird walks around the extensive Brackenhurst grounds, the surrounding forests and short excursions to the wetlands around Limuru (Manguo swamp etc.).  Our guides have years of guiding experience and are passionate about birds.

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Medical mission in Zimbabwe

Sanyati

This year our ACTS Harare team has had the privilege to host a medical missionary team that flew in from Louisiana. The team travelled with medical supplies and equipment all the way from the United States and landed in Harare ready to go out for days of intensive work. On the team of 16 were two veterinarians, a surgeon, nurses, doctors and some non-medical church members (including 3 teenagers) who were there to offer whatever support they could give. This team was joined by a local doctor and his team of four as well as a pastor affiliated to the Baptist Mission in Zimbabwe.

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10-year plan to reach Tanzania for Jesus

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The Tanzania Assembly of God (TAG) is in the middle of a tremendous 10-year plan to reach Tanzania for Jesus. While the plan is empowering all areas of the church, they have placed a strategic emphasis on strengthening struggling and developing sections of Tanzania. These efforts have caught the eye of the western church. As financial resources enter the country to meet the needs of the growing church, donors want to do more than just write a cheque. They want to physically be part of the project.

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A guide to Kenya’s new online visa applications

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If you’re planning a trip to Kenya, please take note that all visa applications will now be done online. As of 2 July 2015, the Kenyan government will have a new eCitizen electronic visa application process for tourists wishing to holiday in Kenya, as well as travellers in transit.

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When strangers become family

The Engedi group arrived as strangers and departed as family.

A family reunion…that was the phrase used to describe the essence of the Engedi group’s time together in South Africa on Experience Africa 2015.

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New South African law on travelling with under 18’s

School group

After an initial postponement, on 1st June 2015 a new law will be implemented whereby all minors under the age of 18 years will be required to produce, in addition to their passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when exiting and entering South African ports of entry.

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Encounter Mara Naboisho joins The Asilia Africa Group

Encounter Mara

We are writing to announce that as of today, Encounter Mara is officially part of the Asilia Africa portfolio.

This is a transition that we as ACTS are extremely exited about as it will allow us to give greater focus to serving ACTS groups, while ensuring that the Encounter Mara legacy, the Naboisho Conservancy and the 500 Maasai families supported by this ground breaking model of sustainable tourism, all lives on.

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Kenya’s Leading Tented Safari Camp

Encounter Mara

We are defending our title as Kenya’s Leading Tented Safari Camp in the World Travel Awards – the “Oscars of the Travel Industry”!

In 2015 the World Travel Awards will celebrate its historic 22nd anniversary. The Awards acknowledges, rewards and celebrates excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry. This award is recognized globally as the hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

Thanks to your support we have won this award in the category of “Kenya’s Leading Tented Safari Camp” for 3 years in a row. And in 2015, with your help, we hope to make it a 4th.

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