A few days before the Kicheche Camps re-opened after the seasonal rains, the Kicheche Clan gathered at Bush Camp for two days of training, discussion, team building and serious competition. The growing impact of Kenya’s conservancies on the environment and community was a fascinating point of debate which involved everyone from the housekeepers to the managers. The support was obvious for what is seen as a fair deal for everyone and a well-managed eco-system.
Kicheche Camps: Kenya
A few days before the Kicheche Camps re-opened after the seasonal rains, the Kicheche Clan gathered at Bush Camp for two days of training, discussion, team building and serious competition. The growing impact of Kenya’s conservancies on the environment and community was a fascinating point of debate which involved everyone from the housekeepers to the managers. The support was obvious for what is seen as a fair deal for everyone and a well-managed eco-system. Kicheche’s future is inextricably linked to the thinking-man’s wilderness of the conservancies.
The competitive nature and skill of each department was tested in a number of (relatively) job specific tasks. The guides traded their finest insights into the rich habitat in which they operate before racing the clock on a wheel change challenge. I can confirm that should you suffer a puncture on your drive, your Kicheche guide will have the wheel changed and tools stowed before you can finish updating your bird watch tally for the day.
The Askaris are the watchful police force of the unfenced Mara, they know how many species are in camp and how to deal with each one. If you ever wondered exactly how much a man armed only with a rungu (throwing stick), a panga and maybe a spear can really achieve. The answer is, more than enough to deter any nocturnal feline prowlers. The throwing arm, timing and accuracy of each Askari was tested as a variety of weapons were deployed against unlucky targets on the edge of camp. The most flamboyant styles were wildly applauded and any deviation from a target bulls-eye was met with howling laughter.
The heat of the kitchen was amplified by the crowd of chefs and their support staff who battled to produce and present the finest dishes. Just like Master Chef only with smarter uniforms and more spine, the delicate fish just beat the perfectly seasoned beef to the finish line. The extra points were earned over the bush brunch which powers Kicheche ‘s game drives. Each smartly packed brunch was thoroughly checked and an ever growing team of judges tasted the various creations until just crumbs and the score sheet were left.
The housekeeping staff raced to clean tents and then really raced to complete the bucket shower challenge. Thames Water has never offered service like the buckets of steaming water hurtling between tents. The traditionalists sped down the pathways and the young contenders headed off-road to straight line through the Acacias. It was an interesting backdrop to the waiters who were blindfolded for the devilish tricky ‘blind’ wine pour. You can see the photographic highlights here.
The point of all this was to bring the four camps and office staff together for a bit of wisdom sharing and pre-season psyching. I’m happy to report that moral has never been higher and the Kicheche All-Stars are ready and waiting.
Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Uganda
The much anticipated 4 banda addition to Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park is now taking bookings and opens next month. This park has a huge number of attractions, not least the isolated chimp population in the Kyambura Gorge which is the unique setting for the new property. This useful map shows you how a 60 acre buffer zone has been created on both sides of the gorge where it leaves the national park. In the short time that Volcanoes staff have been returning this land to its original state, birds have started breeding in the wetland and numerous species including elephant have started to use the area for feeding. In addition to employment opportunities, Volcanoes has started a number of community based programmes to promote sustainable tourism in a positive light. There is a tree planting project (to create alternative sources of fire wood), guiding training courses and a community playground.
This is a fantastic park in which to experience Uganda’s diverse wildlife alongside primates. The land between the lodge and park is unfenced and there are several special offers which can be used to introduce your clients to Uganda.
Article and images by Ben Forbes