Basecamp Masai Mara

Basecamp Masai Mara

Nairobi 00100, Kenya
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Basecamp Explorer’s approach to tourism is encapsulated in the concept of- ‘Tourism for people, planet and profit’. The principle behind this approach is that tourism, the business, must respond to and invest in people and planet issues in the destination by empowering local people through training, education and employment, sharing benefits, conservation of biodiversity, restoration of destinations environmental values, minimum impact tourist activities , sustainable/ state of the art technologies, innovations in cultural conservation and visitor transformation.

About You
Contact Information


First name


Last name

Kepher Gona

Your job title

Your Job Title

Name of your organization

Basecamp Masai Mara

Organization type

Tourism destination

Annual budget/currency

Annual Budget/Currency

Mailing address
Telephone number

Telephone Number

Postal/Zip Code


Email address
Alternative email address
Your idea
This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.
Street Address

Kirichwa Lane


Nairobi 00100

Postal/Zip Code

433 69

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourism management by destination leadership .

Organization size

Small (1 to 100 employees)

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Year innovation began


Indicate sector in which you principally work

General tourism, General destination stewardship/management.

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What is the goal of your innovation? Please describe in one sentence the kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

To leave a positive footprint in destinations and local communities, and transform travelers through sustainable tourism

Please write an overview of your project. Include how your approach supports or embodies geotourism or destination stewardship. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the map located on the competition homepage.

Basecamp Explorer’s approach to tourism is encapsulated in the concept of- ‘Tourism for people, planet and profit’. The principle behind this approach is that tourism, the business, must respond to and invest in people and planet issues in the destination by empowering local people through training, education and employment, sharing benefits, conservation of biodiversity, restoration of destinations environmental values, minimum impact tourist activities , sustainable/ state of the art technologies, innovations in cultural conservation and visitor transformation.

Explain in detail why your approach is innovative

The Basecamp Explorer business model is innovative in the sense that people and planet are not treated as secondary elements of the investment, but as integral elements of the investment and operations. This ensures sustainable destination development.

Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?

We have had successes in using sustainable technologies, conserving the environment, promoting and conserving culture, enhancing quality of life of local people, creating a unique tourism experience, sustaining and restoring aesthetics at destination.
Our degree of success is best measured by the awards we have won locally and internationally, our conservation initiatives, social programs and support extended to community and the number of partners we have attracted
• 2004- Bronze rating by Ecotourism society of Kenya
• 2005- Eco-warrior Award by Ecotourism Society of Kenya
• 2006 – First choice responsible tourism award
• 2007 – First Gold eco-rating in Kenya awarded by Ecotourism Society of Kenya
• Our Annual Environmental Audit reports are approved by Government of Kenya
• Each year Basecamp Maasai Mara receives more than 1000 educational visits from universities, government departments and aspiring ecotourism operators. These visits are an endorsement of the model.
• More than 50,000 trees planted in 10 years
• 40,000 acres of land secured for wildlife and conservation
• Established one of the largest indigenous tree nurseries in Mara
• The only private sector supported cheetah conservation project in Maasai Mara
Social programs
• 113 women earning an income from the Maasai Brand (TMB) an innovation of Basecamp Explorer to conserve maasai culture
• More than 30 girls supported through primary and secondary level education in 10 years
• Financial support for construction of local clinic and provision of water
• HIV/Aids awareness at destination
More than ten partnership agreements signed with local, national and international organizations to promote our business model. The establishment of Basecamp Foundation is the climax of the partnerships
Through Basecamp Explorer Big Five partnership programs people and planet challenges addressed: Care, Conservation, Climate, Culture and Capacity, see brochures attached

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your work, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Basecamp has become a benchmark for the community. They are more informed about sustainable tourism and its relationship to conservation and local livelihoods and culture. They are more willing now to set more land aside for conservation in anticipation of significant income, employment, sending mo and other social benefits.
Basecamp Masai Mara community revenue system ensures direct economic benefits from the tourism business to its asset owners. Revenue are generated from guest bednight fees, guest activity land fees, camp land lease fees, private forest lease agreements, education funds.

Basecamp Explorer trains, employs and benefit local people, on all levels. At each destination the local employees make up at least 75 % . We emphasize on training, employing and benefiting in particular women, on all levels.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

The Basecamp Masai Mara experience offers a high quality ecotourism product with personalized service. The interaction with the host community and its wide range of activities ensures a high guest satisfaction and learning component, measured through regular feedback mechanisms

Describe how your work helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area's cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues.

Through use of local design and material in lodge construction, campfire cultural talks, movie on maasai life produced by Basecamp and sold to guests at camp, CD on maasai songs produced by Basecamp and sold to guests at camp, the maasai brand made by local women is sold at camp. The maasai brand workshop is located at the camp and guests can see, feel and touch culture at the centre. Visitors can regularly enjoy lectures on ecotourism, Maasai culture, Travellers Philanthropy by our local guides, and researchers in the Masai Mara are often invited to give talks on Hyenas, Cheetah, and other research topics.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

Financing is through tourism revenues and additional income from travelers philanthropy and direct donations towards the Basecamp Big Five partnreship programs

Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? Is there a potential demand for your innovation?

Yes, but owing to high investment in conservation , capacity building and community support, it takes time to reach financial and organizational sustainability

25% of profit is used to finance Basecamp Big Five partnership programs

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

Financial constraints in implementing and sustaining social and conservation projects since tourism is cyclical
• Social and cultural barriers – affect replicability
• Availability of human resources/capacity at community level
• Marketing and market access

What is your plan to expand or further develop your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

We have developed a consultative tool known as Ecostorm . Ecostorm is delivered through workshops, seminars, consultancies, research etc. we are also looking at franchising where we lend our management model to destinations that wish to replicate our model. We would like to enhance our innovation in Africa and India and areas threatened by global warming.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.

In 1998, Matinta Ole Taek, an 84 year old Maasai elder and Svein Wilhelmsen met in the savannah of the Maasai Mara. One was an uneducated Maasai the other a social entrepreneur. They shared one dream, that nature and culture if sustainable managed could benefit people and planet. A 39 year land lease was signed and Basecamp Explorer saw its first destination created.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

Svein Wilhelmsen
Date of Birth Oslo, 06.05.54
Svein Wilhelmsen, in 2001 Founded and CEO of Basecamp Explorer A/S, ecological and
locally-based tourism for sustainable development - six Basecamp destinations in Kenya,
India, Spitsbergen, Norway and the Pyrenees, France, including 20 community projects, 3 capacity building centres. International prize winner for innovative sustainable tourism approach.
Education 1976 – 81; University degree at the Norwegian School of
Economics and Business Administration, (Norway business school), Bergen.
Founder, sponsor and board member of Norwegian Human Rights House
Vice- chairman of the Board of Nordic World
Heritage Center/UNESCO

Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.

Take a camp walk and interact freely with staff while learning about ecotourism in practice
Take a walking safaris guided by indigenous maasai
Tracking cheetahs with our cheetah conservation team
Meet and bead with Maasai women behind the Maasai Brand ( a jewellery collection from Basecamp Crafts)
Plant trees and add to our more than 50,000-trees forest and help to fight global warming
Visit local school or heath centre- chance to understand social issues in destination
Guests can choose how to access information on the destination. Information is presented through various media e.g campfire talks, books, film, lectures, brochures and presentation.
Experiences and practices are documented and guests can share in our experiences
Every guest is a potential partner

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

Micro-finance organizations – to support alternative livelihoods and take pressure from nature
Research organizations & researchers- practical data to support replicability
Development organizations- to upscale people & planet projects
International conservation agencies- share models and experiences in conservation
Learning/training institutions – to integrate good lessons into curriculum and help to spread the message
Sustainable tourism operators – to give priority to responsible operators when marketing
Government agencies – secure the model through policies
Travelers / travel foundations – build capacity of host destinations by donating time, talent and treasure