The Samburu people call them the Lenkiyio Hills, and they have been sharing this remote landscape with elephants and other wildlife for centuries — relying on the water from its clear valley streams, and the food and medicine found in its forests.
Also known as the Mathews Range, this 150-kilometre stretch of peaks and knuckle-ridge hills towers above the savannah lowlands below, providing a haven for more than 350 bird species and 150 species of butterfly. And for Kitich Forest Camp.
The story of Kitich starts in the 1970s —
— when safari guide Miles Burton established it as a place to host clients – some of whom were notable Hollywood stars. In the 1980s, it was used as a rhino monitoring post, before being bought by olive oil magnate Giulio Bertolli in 1996 — one year after the land surrounding it had been established as a community conservancy. Giulio made it his home for over 12 years, eventually selling it to the only people he trusted to stay true to the Camp’s values, and protect everything that made it so special. While there have been some cosmetic and infrastructural adjustments to Kitich, including the installation of solar power, it’s intimate size and wild location remain unchanged. There are even a few members of staff who have worked here for over 20 years.
Kitich is hosted by Namunyak Community Conservancy —
— which spans 383,000-acres and is owned and managed by the local Samburu community. A member of the Northern Rangelands Trust, Namunyak was one of the first community conservancies in Kenya, and continues to use conservation as a way to improve the lives of local people through development projects and enterprise, and by promoting peace with neighbouring communities. Revenue from tourism is a critical part of this model, providing incentives for sustainable land management and the preservation of wildlife.