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More on the Maasai and Semadep Safari Camp

November 11, 2012

This is James Ole Lesaloi, the man behind an ambitious project in Kenya to help the local Maasai community finally begin to benefit from the many tourists that come to Africa’s most famous safari destination, the Maasai Mara game reserve.
The substantial amount of money generated by places like the Mara, is shared by the tour operators, camp owners and air line owners, with only a tiny amount being accessed by the local community. As a result, the Maasai are amongst the poorest people in Kenya.
James set up Semadep (The Sekanani Maasai Development Project) in 2006 to try and change this. He established the Semadep Safari Camp only 2 kilometers from the main gate to the Mara. All profits are used for community development in the Sekanani area and all the staff are from the local Maasai community including the Camp Manager.
Myself and a friend recently stayed at the camp and saw first hand what it has achieved. To date the project has helped fund a pre-primary school, a primary school, a clinic, a well for clean water and even a computer center. Many of these facilities should be provided by the Kenyan government. But sadly the only thing they get from the state are drugs for their clinic.
I would definitely recommend a stay at the Semadep camp. It is a good base from which to explore the Mara. Not only are you helping the local community by staying there but you will also get the opportunity to live with the Maasai and learn all about their wonderful culture which is increasingly under threat from modern life. But don’t take my word for it, Semadep was highly commended in the Virgin Holidays 2011 Responsible Tourism Awards. You can also read some good reviews about it on on TripAdvisor.
When we stayed there, we were looked after by two young Maasai, Denis and Tubula. They were the kindest, most genuine people you could ever hope to meet. They shared everything about their lives and showed us all the area had to offer. It was also interesting to see that even in the most rural communities, mobile phones, facebook and twitter are popular, especially amongst the youth. It was an experience I will never forget. Here are some more images from the trip.

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