Enkarewa – A lifetime commitment

By John Baumann | 12 June 2023


Naboisho, meaning “Coming together” in Maa, the language of the Maasai, is a carefully chosen name for a conservancy which only exists thanks to the agreement reached between nearly 500 Maasai landowners who came together to create the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

Maasai celebrations involve singing, dancing and beautiful beadwork

The coming together of Maasai landowners allowed for the creation of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

Coming together

Long before the adventures of Rubondo and Usangu, the decision to partner with the Naboisho Conservancy was one of the most pioneering investments into new areas that we had ever made. Today, the conservancy is an award-winning model for community-based conservation. Through various initiatives over the years, we have actively supported the communities by not only providing employment but also supporting local schools and villages, youth programmes like Twende Porini, and empowering woman by selling their beautiful beadwork in our shops. We provide additional support through sponsoring scholarships with the Wildlife Tourism College of Maasai Mara, being The Maa Trust’s biggest tourism partner, as well as having long-standing relationships with Kenya Wildlife Trust and The Mara Predator Conservation Programme. Through all of these efforts and collaborations, we are proud to say that we have been one of the major role players to help make the conservancy a success.

Twende Porini exposes local children to the wonders of wildlife

Twende Porini is a fun and educational program aimed at creating ambassadors for conservation within local communities.  

The Enkarewa

In 2019, Naboisho Camp went through a renovation process which saw the installation of a swimming pool and a new lounge being built alongside the pool area. Featuring a large fireplace for the cooler evenings, it was a clear an impressive decorative item would be needed to fill the space above the fireplace and act as a centrepiece for the lounge. Something traditional that spoke to the history and culture of the people of Naboisho. An idea began to take hold for the creation of the Mara’s largest Enkarewa.

The poolside lounge at Naboisho Camp

The poolside lounge at Naboisho Camp, with the open space above the fireplace.

The Enkarewa is a traditional handmade Maasai wedding necklace worn by the bride and passed down through the generations. The colours and designs used in each unique necklace symbolise the coming together of the families as well as the entire community. Intricately handmade using many colourful beads, the Enkarewa has become a symbol of the Maasai culture and, with Asilia being one of the founding members of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, the symbolism and meaning behind the Enkarewa perfectly illustrates what our partnership with the conservancy is all about: a lifetime commitment between Conservation, Community and Tourism.

Partnership and commitment 

Given our relationship with the Maa Trust, it made sense to further support their work and the local community, instead of buying something from Nairobi or further afield. In May 2019, consultation with the management team behind the beadwork project of the trust began. We decided to keep the traditional bright Maasai colours, favouring a design that would keep the Enkarewa in its most traditional form, only much larger. By July, the Enkarewa was beginning to take shape, and, by mid-October, it was finally complete. More than 161’500 colourful beads, intricately strung together to create a traditional necklace, the largest of its kind, beautifully representing the partnership of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

The enkarewa in it's space above the fireplace

The Mara's largest Enkarewa, proudly on display in Naboisho Camp.

Four years later and our partnership with the community and the environment has gone from strength to strength. Everything about the sustainable nature of this model for conservation and community development, driven by the mechanism of tourism, makes sense. We are exceptionally proud to be a part of this success story, which is why Naboisho Camp was selected to become our first Reserve Tier property in Kenya. After an extensive rebuild, the camp reopened on 1 June 2023 with beautiful new guest tents that are spacious and light, and a completely refurbished lounge and dining area offering an improved use of space. The pool and its lounge, being relatively new additions to the camp, did not need any structural renovation but the interiors have been refreshed to align with the rest of the camp. However, the Enkarewa remains, proudly occupying its space above the fireplace, reminding us of our commitment to the people and the wildlife of Naboisho.

A plaque commemorating the creating of the Enkerewa

The plaque below the Enkarewa, commemorating its creation and explaining its symbolism. 

If you aim to travel responsibly, in a manner that makes a positive impact beyond the personal satisfaction attained from your experience, then Naboisho Camp should be high on your list of safari camps to visit. By staying in Naboisho Camp, you contribute directly to the livelihood of the surrounding communities, as well as the ongoing protection of the land and its wildlife. Here, your presence makes a genuine difference.

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