A Mara lodge has gone green

Saturday October 5 2019

Emboo River lodge runs on off-grid solar power to even charge electric safari Land Cruisers.

Emboo River lodge runs on off-grid solar power to even charge electric safari Land Cruisers. PHOTO | COURTESY | EMBOO RIVER 

NEVILLE OTUKI
By NEVILLE OTUKI
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Luxury camps in Kenya’s Maasai Mara—globally famed for its spectacular wildebeest river crossing, exquisite campsites and game drives—are ditching diesel generators for solar power and recycling water as they become eco-friendly.

Emboo River is one such camp. Nestled deep in the Mara along a riverbed, the luxury lodge fully runs on off-grid solar power. Its solar plant does it all from lighting the spacious tented rooms, heating water, charging the electric safari Land Cruisers to pumping borehole water.

The camp also has a natural water recycling system, where waste water is passed through special weeds grown in lagoons and filtered for reuse.

A chance meeting between a Kenyan William Santian and two foreigners Loïc Amado and his wife Valery Super, about a year ago, at a dinner table at the camp which was known as Nalepo, initiated the journey to reduce the lodge’s carbon footprint.

“We had a conversation about changing the safari experience to make it truly eco-friendly and ensure that the traditional Big Five wildlife attraction is sustainable.

“So, we came up with the idea of a lodge that uses renewable energy, locally-sourced products and reusing waste water to minimise its impact on nature,” said Mr Santian, co-founder and managing director.

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Renowned wildlife photographer couple Jonathan and Angela Scott, alongside other film crew, stayed at Emboo River awhile back while filming the Big Cat Diary for the BBC.

Barely a month ago, Poorna Kedar from Indian firm Pixellin Photography & Travel flew over to film the camp following its rebranding and shift towards green practices.

Emboo camp sits next to the seasonal Talek River. Its tented rooms and shared spaces overlook the river channel, giving campers delightful views.

From your tent porch, you can watch hippos bathing, the majestic elephants quenching their thirst, and the unmistakable silhouettes of zebras and wildebeests in the distance, grazing on the other side of the ridge.

The eco-friendly nature of the camp, which is a 10-minute drive from the nearby Ol Kiombo Airstrip, has resonated with tourists, with many flying long distances to experience it.

“We are proud to have the first ‘Closed Loop System’ in the Maasai Mara. We only rely on natural resources and do not necessarily need outside inputs to operate,” said Mr Santian.

Recent studies show that Talek River water is highly polluted and the eco-friendly lodge now looks to extend its biological water treatment concept to the surrounding area starting with schools.

“We will also be funding a solar system and a shamba for students to grow crops and from where the Emboo can buy all fresh foods,” said the lodge’s executives.

Emboo River offers a glamping experience, meals in the bush, hot air balloon rides over the Mara and massage therapy.

During the Great Wildebeest Migration, guests are driven over to watch the magical spectacle up-close.