We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Despite 2021 kicking off for many with more of a crawl than a supersonic boost, we feel that there are many reasons to be optimistic. A number of vaccinations have been approved across the globe and are being rolled out with fervour. We have reports from operators that people are keen to travel again and there is a movement towards booking longer, higher value trips. So as science plays its role in enabling the world to return to a semblance of normality, we continue to plan towards welcoming guests back all the Elewana properties from the 1st May 2021.
Travellers departing Kenya, whose airline or destination country requires a PCR based COVID-19 negative test will be required to use the Trusted Travel website to obtain a Trusted Travel code prior to departure. Testing for guests can be arranged in camps on a case-by-case basis, however we recommend that travellers get in touch with their tour operator or ground handler to assist with this process. Full instructions on the process can be found here
Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge has good reason for guests to celebrate 2021’s arrival by offering increased savings between January 15 and February 28, 2021 with a special flash sale. Couples and solo travellers can take advantage of these special offers priced at $179/ person and $249/person respectively.
T&C’s include new bookings only and this offer cannot be combined with any other promotional rate. Full payment is required 72 hours prior to arrival and a refund, less bank charges, will be granted for cancelled bookings.
Thanks to tremendous support from Land & Life Foundation donors in 2020, including donations from top supporters like A. E. Reimann Foundation and SKAL Monaco, L&L will be able to provide significant assistance to local communities and schools.
In 2020, Land & Life Foundation received a much apreciated outpouring of donations, including a $110,000 contribution from their two biggest supporters - the A. E. Reimann Foundation and SKAL Monaco, both based in Monaco. The couple behind these two donations, Birgit Reimann and Constantine Panoussi, have generously contributed to Land & Life Foundation for the past six years. The funds will go towards Esiteti Primary, Elewana’s supported school in Amboseli, and community projects. Specifically, the funds will be used to pay school fees for 600 primary school students, salaries for 12 Esiteti Primary teachers, a handyman, and a cook, tuition for secondary and tertiary students as well as address the community's priority needs, to name a few.
Thanks to the couple’s support over the years, Land & Life Foundation has been able to fund the following in Esiteti, along with much more.
The community has also received huge support, before and during COVID, including receiving cows, household supplies such as mosquito nets, food and other much-needed items. Birgit and Constantine are an exemplary couple who work tirelessly to support the community and in return, the community has embraced them to the extent of building a manyatta (house) for them in the village.
The Land & Life Foundation continues to support local communities affected by COVID through the Pamoja Fund COVID response initiative, including distributing COVID supplies to three of our supported schools located near Meru National Park, Shaba Game Reserve and Mara North Conservancy. The goal is to provide all schools connected with the Land & Life Foundation support so that they are better prepared when they officially open next year.
Since the beginning of December, the Pamoja Fund COVID response initiative has distributed
We’re pleased to share here some photos and videos from our work in the community.
Whilst 2020 threw some punches, there were many positive stories that represent hope and optimism for the future. The Honeyguide Foundation, which operates in Randelin, the Wildlife Management Area area where Tarangire Treetops is located, has put together a video focusing on positives in a tumultuous year Click here
Elewana’s Executive Chef Nicky Bryden, returns to the Elewana Camps this month to help curate the delicious menus on offer at the properties. We spoke to Nicky about her work and plans for the Elewana Kitchens.
What are you most looking forward to on returning to the Elewana properties?
After having gone through many months of lockdown and experiencing various degrees of isolation, there is much I am looking forward to but most certainly right at the top is connecting with the teams once again. They have all been through a very rough year and there is nothing quite like cooking and having some fun learning new skills and tricks to uplift the spirits once again. I am also missing the serenity that comes with being out in the African bush. 2020 has afforded us all an opportunity to have a careful look inward at what is important to us and for me, connecting with nature, observing my surroundings and learning from people that live in it, is what inspires and challenges me.
What are your key tips for a good safari menu?
My personal tips would be that no two menus are the same, most of our guests spend time at two or more of our lodges and each of the lodges is situated in unique surroundings and the menus represent this and will change daily.
We always strive for a sense of authenticity and an element of surprise. From a sunrise breakfast in the bush to an impromptu barbecue under the stars, I want there to always be a hint of theatrics and wonderment.
Are there any particular new dishes that you will be looking to introduce at the Elewana camps?
We are introducing new dishes constantly, however I am personally looking forward to introducing new menus that cater for a wider variety of palettes. I especially want to focus on using more locally sourced products and delve into the amazing array of flavourings, spices and unique cooking methods we have here in East Africa.
What is your favourite local ingredient that you have discovered and added to the menus?
My personal favourite is tamarind, it is indigenous to tropical Africa. The tamarind tree produces brown, pod-like fruits that contain a sweet, tangy pulp, which when added to dishes adds an acidy that compliments so many of our Kenyan dishes. I love it, as we can harvest it ourselves and are able to use the fruit as well as the leaves in our cooking. It is also very versatile and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes and has plenty of Vitamin C to keep immune systems healthy.
Have you learnt anything surprising from the local staff that you have been training?
In kitchens, there is something new we learn every day and over the years I have learnt much from the teams I work with. On the coast, I have learnt how to extract milk from the coconut by hand and how to cook a fish using only a few sticks. I have learnt how to use every part of an animal and leave nothing to waste and how most plants we find surrounding us, have in some way a use and benefit to us. I’ve also learnt how to behave in a local market and the importance of banter and barter in the local lingo to get the quality and price you need.
For people, unable to travel can you recommend how to recreate a bush meal experience?
I think the beauty about ‘Bush Meals’ is that they afford us the opportunity to take in and appreciate one’s surroundings; it doesn’t mean you need to travel half way across the world to do it. One can recreate the bush concept by incorporating the use of fire which provides some great outdoor ambience. I would choose to prepare something interactive and a great choice would be the Kenyan Mishkaki, we cook these at our Loisaba Starbeds property and they are always a great hit.
They are meat kebabs which have been seasoned with local East African spices, (there is a recipe below). Let everyone get involved with the cooking and enjoy your favourite tipple while watching the sun go down in your backyard.
What’s your favourite dining spot of the Elewana Camps that you have visited?
Wow, this is a hard question as they all are very unique and special; however, I think I would need to say outdoors at Elewana Sand River Masai Mara. There is something to be said about enjoying your meal listening to the chorus of the wild and there is no better place for that than the Mara with the constant song from the hyenas, wildebeest and lions, it’s extraordinary.
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan until they pop, remove from the heat and crush with a mortar & pestle. Mix everything else together and marinate beef cubes for two hours.
Soak your wooden skewer sticks in water then skewer meat onto the sticks ready for the BBQ
Elewana Collection’s US PR Rep, Alison Sager, recently had the great fortune of traveling to Kenya and hosting six US journalists on a media trip. She shares her highlights from the incredible experience.When I first learned travel to Kenya reopened in August, I was elated. It was one of the first destinations which opened back up to US travellers and given the seriousness with which the Kenyan government handled the pandemic and the many protocols they put in place for reopening, I felt confident about the opportunity to visit later in the fall.
Together with six US journalists from New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta, we headed off into the wilderness visiting Elewana Tortilis Amboseli Camp, Elewana Lewa Safari Camp, and Elewana Sand River Maasai Mara Camp over a 9-day period.This was my fourth time on safari in Kenya and by far, the most rewarding for many reasons. From the incredible wildlife viewing (I don’t think I’ve seen so many animals on one safari!) to the genuine hospitality offered by Elewana staff to the sense of privacy and exclusivity, given that we were one of few people on safari right now, it was one for the record books.
Elewana Tortilis Amboseli was our first stop and we were greeted with a warm welcome from Edison, GM for the property, and his team. The warmth of the East African sun gently lulled us into a new reality – one in which we were free to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the incredible beauty of our natural surroundings. While at the property, we indulged in the delicious meals prepared with the freshest of ingredients. One of the pleasant surprises of the trip was how healthy many of the dishes were at Elewana properties, thanks to veggie-forward sides and vegetarian main options. Though, that did not stop us from indulging in the many desserts and the delightful sweets prepared for our mid-afternoon tea. We were particularly fond of the brownies at Tortilis and have asked Chef for the recipe! Elewana staff also continuously surprised us with lovely sundowners to cap off a wonderful day in the bush.Amboseli National Park is famous for its herds of elephants, many which can number well over 100. The tusker population did not disappoint, as we saw a number of large herds, but we also had the great fortune of encountering cheetah, dazzles of zebra, towers and journeys of giraffes, and many a flamboyance of flamingos. All against the gorgeous backdrop of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We hardly saw anyone else on safari during our game drives, which was an incredible feeling in itself. Alone to explore the bush – a dramatic landscape of wide-open plains, acacia woodlands, swamps and marshland that make this park so unique.
Lewa Conservancy brought incredible sightings of rhinos, including a few mothers with their children. We were even treated to sharing some time with a mama rhino and her adorable 3-week old baby during one game drive. We also saw many herds of elephants in this UNESCO World Heritage Site and some lions as well, not to mention the gorgeously striking Grevy’s zebra who remain endangered. Lewa was peaceful, a calm oasis which felt almost entirely curated for our group. We rarely, if ever, saw another vehicle and the animals seemed even more relaxed and happy for us to be with them.Our group enjoyed the wonderful comforts of Elewana Lewa Safari Camp and Elewana Kifaru House and their unique locations within the Conservancy, allowing for optimal game viewing. George, acting GM at Kifaru, and Moses, GM at Lewa, were exceedingly hospitable together with their staff and ensured we had a memorable stay. Our guide at Kifaru House, Godfrey Polonet Kinyaga, is deeply passionate about his work, especially with rhinos, and extremely knowledgeable about the conservancies and parks in Kenya. As Elewana's youngest head guide, he is certified at the silver level by (KPSGA - Kenya Professional Safari Guide Association) and grew up in Ngare Ndare village just near Lewa Conservancy, where he did most of his training. It was very sad to leave everyone on our last morning, but I took a note from the Kenyans and remembered that this was not a goodbye, but a “see you soon.”
From Lewa, we headed back south to the everlasting beauty of the Masai Mara for a 3-night stay at Elewana Sand River Masai Mara. At this point, our group had been spoiled in terms of sightings. We had already spotted four of the Big 5 and an abundance of wildlife, whether the numerous cats we saw like cheetah, lion, serval and wild cats to the tremendous amount of bird species. A few of us were still hoping to see the elusive leopard of course, but we knew it would be challenging. And that is when the Mara delivered! During our stay in the Masai Mara National Reserve, we had the opportunity to spot not one but two different leopards in various settings. The first, Luluka, was a true delight as we followed her along the banks of a local stream and saw her leap across. The next day we came across Split Nose, dozing in the bush. His name is due to the scar on his face, a result of what was most certainly a very dangerous encounter. In 10 days, we had managed to see an abundance of animals and the pleasure of saying we saw the Big 5.Checking in to Elewana Sand River was a whole new experience for me as well. I had not yet been able to visit since the renovation in late 2018 and the gorgeous new dining and common areas together with the infinity pool were a lovely surprise. The camp’s location along Sand River brought an infinite amount of peace and wellbeing, especially after months of being holed up at home in an urban environment. It was certainly a much needed salve for the soul. These last few days reminded me of the great fortune I had to come on safari and enjoy the overwhelming beauty of these destinations.
Now that I’m back, I’m already plotting my return. I remain ever-hopeful that travel will get back on its feet in the coming months and we will all get to experience the beauty that is the East African bush.
Shanga’s Director, Ruth Willatt, was recently featured on the Stories Connect People podcast, highlighting the incredible story behind this successful social enterprise in Arusha. The interview with Ruth, led by American Polly Van Duser, explores the many incredible facets of Shanga, including its employment of artisans who also happen to be people with disabilities. Shanga’s staff have a love for creating beautiful handmade items in their workshop, a passion which is evident in every unique creation they make. Items are made available for purchase at Shanga’s local shop at Elewana Arusha Coffee Lodge, as well as at Elewana Collection properties throughout Kenya and Tanzania. They also discuss how an aspect of Shanga’s mission is to focus on sustainability and how the use of as many recycled items as possible helps them adhere to their vision. The stories which Ruth shares with Polly are incredibly moving and inspiring. We highly suggest having a listen!
Elewana Collection celebrates love this Valentine’s Day with special romantic offerings throughout properties in Kenya and Tanzania. A romantic getaway in the East African bush is undeniably dreamy on its own, but Elewana Collection takes it up a notch for guests visiting this February in honour of Valentine’s Day.