Choose to travel with purpose

By Lara Jackson | 18 July 2023


In today’s world, where our individual choices can have a significant impact on the environment and local communities, it becomes increasingly important to thoroughly research the destinations we travel to and the companies we travel with. Being a responsible traveller means we have the opportunity to support initiatives that promote sustainability, conservation, and are committed to community empowerment.

Encounter Camp in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy

A private dining experience at Encounter Mara Camp.

Our recent safari with Asilia Africa, in Kenya, really captured the essence of purposeful travel. We stayed at their Encounter Mara Camp in the Naboisho Conservancy, a community-owned reserve that makes up part of the Greater Masai Mara Ecosystem. Established in 2010, five hundred landowners came together to return the land to wildlife. Thirteen years later and the Naboisho Conservancy is brimming with wildlife and boasts one of the highest densities of lion in the Masai Mara. This conservancy is an excellent example of successful conservation as a result of collaborations between landowner, community, and tour operators.

Dickson Kereto, a guide from Encounter Mara, tells The Story of Naboisho.

Positive Impact

As well as having fantastic eco-credentials, with camps designed to have minimal impact on the environment, the main reason we were drawn to Asilia were the numerous ‘Positive Impact’ partners they support. From wildlife specific conservation initiatives to funding the education of local guiding students, Asilia really do go beyond mere gestures. By donating a portion of the income generated by each guest into their own charity - Asilia Giving - they’re able to actively support smaller charities on the ground who are striving to improve opportunities for local communities.

The Naboisho Conservancy boasts an impressive elephant population.

The formation of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy allowed wildlife to return to the area, creating one of the richest wildlife environments in the region.

Supporting Maasai Women

One such partner is The Maa Trust, a community-based organisation that has improved the lives of hundreds of Maasai women. They’ve created a framework where Maasai women can sell their beautiful, beaded products to tourists and camps across the Mara, they promote education, and provide healthcare initiatives. More recently, they’ve donated water storage tanks to numerous women in the community to help alleviate water poverty. We visited The Maa Trust headquarters during our safari, and it was truly uplifting to see the extent of this project and to hear about the lives they are transforming.

Maasai ladies creating beaded products

Through the Maa Trust, many Maasai women have been able to create a sustainable form of income.

Collaring Cats

Another partner we visited was the Mara Predator Conservation Programme. There are numerous communities, who rely on livestock farming, living on the boundaries of these reserves with high densities of big cats. By monitoring all the predators and collaring several of the lion and cheetah across the Greater Masai Mara Ecosystem, the team aim to alleviate human-wildlife conflict. The GPS collars on the lion and cheetah transmit location data to satellites, which is analysed by scientists. This data furthers our understanding of these animals and enables the project to give an early warning to the communities if a predator is nearing the reserve boundary. This has already saved countless livestock from the claws of cats and helped to improve local opinions towards the predators they live alongside.    

A pair of mating lions in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

A pair of muddy mating lions in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. 

The Asilia Family

As well as supporting these Positive Impact partners, Asilia actively contribute to community empowerment by providing numerous employment opportunities. Various roles including lodge staff, lodge management, guides, drivers, housekeepers and more, are filled by members of the local communities. Asilia also support the education of numerous students and, in 2023, they’ve pledged to provide the funding for five students to complete their guiding qualifications at the Wildlife Tourism College of Maasai Mara. These students will one day go on to become full time guides, either at an Asilia camp, or another in the Mara. This relationship between tourism and communities is a powerful demonstration of the positive impact that purposeful travel can have.

The Wildlife Tourism College of Maasai Mara.

In 2023, five scholarships were provided to the Wildlife Tourism College of Maasai Mara.

A Force for Good

People and nature are inseparable companions, a truth that Asilia acknowledge and embrace. It is within our power to make change whilst exploring new countries and experiencing new cultures. We should all be choosing to travel with responsible companies who are not just ‘committed’ to supporting local communities but can actively demonstrate the projects they support and the impact they’ve had on the ground. Whenever we travel, sustainability, conservation, and community empowerment should be seamlessly woven into the fabric of every adventure. By travelling with purpose, you can embark on that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip and witness the astonishing wildlife of Africa, knowing that your journey will benefit local communities and help to preserve nature. Asilia’s commitment to “Travelling with Purpose” serves as a shining example of how responsible tourism can create a brighter future for all.


Lara Jackson

Lara JacksonLara is a conservation biologist and award-winning wildlife photographer. Fascinated by wildlife and ecology, she studied Zoology and then Wildlife Conservation at the University of Southampton in the UK. Coupled with a love of wildlife photography, she understood that her images could share important conservation messages and tell the stories of those working tirelessly to protect some of the most endangered species on the planet. Her work focusses on the medium of wildlife photography and storytelling to inspire more people to protect this beautiful world we live in.





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