Il Ngwesi means 'people of the wildlife'. This is a pioneering and award-winning community-owned and run lodge in the Laikipia region of Kenya. Since it opened in 1996, Il Ngwesi has been used as a role model for other community lodges, and the reason is simple -it works! It works for guests, for the local Il Ngwesi Maasai community, the environment and the wildlife.
Set on 16,500 acres of north west of Lewa, at an altitude of about 1400m, the six bandas are beautifully and organically constructed with thatched roof and local wood (from elephant damage etc), and have great views from the verandas. Each has an open air shower and locally made furniture.
The main lodge has lounge, bar and dining terrace, where you'll spend most of your time between activities. There's a deck with a good view of a waterhole, and a swimming pool and sundeck.
Friendly and well-trained local staff look after you in the lodge, and expert guides take you on game walks and drives, birdwatching, and into Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. You can also visit the cultural village to see fire-making and hunting skills, and spend an evening here enjoying traditional food and dancing. Il Ngwesi can also be used as a start or end point for Walking Wild camel-assisted walks (another project part-owned by this community), or even as a stop on a horse riding journey in the region. You might also want to consider walking to the nearby Tassia Lodge on the Lekurruki Group Ranch.
Open: Il Ngwesi is open all year. It first opened in 1996.
Location: The lodge on a private reserve of 16,500 hectares in Laikipia, bordering Lewa, Borana and Lekurruki. The lodge’s own airstrip is available to very small planes and helicopters, and the next nearest airstrip is at Nanyuki.
Rooms: There are 6 guest rooms, sleeping from 2 to 4 people each. 2 of them have enlarged decks with 4 poster beds for sleep-outs. Rooms are set into the hillside which protrude outwards on elevated decks. Each has a sitting area, a basin and toilet to one side, and a bathroom on a lower level with a shower that is open to the sky.
Activities: Go for game drives and guided walks and hikes, enjoy bush breakfasts and sundowners, spend time at a rhino sanctuary, and visit a Maasai village. You can also watch wildlife at the waterhole while relaxing at the lodge, and get closeup views from the viewing hide.
Facilities: The main lodge has sitting area, bar, reception and dining terrace and a deck. A little way away there’s a freeform swimming pool and sundeck. The gift shop sells a range of handicrafts and gifts. The lodge offers spa services. There is a wildlife viewing hide near the waterhole. The lodge offers a free laundry service.
Dining: Meals are eaten in the main lodge, on the terrace, by the pool and in the bush. Dining is at individual tables.
Children: Children of all ages are welcome, but they must be kept under supervision at all times. Babysitting can be arranged.
Health: This is a malarial area.
Communication: There is no internet access and limited mobile phone coverage.
Notes: Il Ngwesi is owned and run by the Maasai community. Lodge staff are all drawn from the local community.
The lodge’s profits help support community projects, and Il Ngwesi also co-operates with Kenyan and international NGOs to help local communities and promote sustainable land management. The lodge supports education, health and livelihood projects in the 6 Maasai villages within its territory. Il Ngwesi is part of the Northern Rangelands Trust that together cover 440,000 square kilometres, within which wildlife, including several endangered species, is protected and communities are supported and helped to benefit from tourism.