IL Ngwesi Lodge
IL Ngwesi Lodge
Owned and run by the Maasai community, Il Ngwesi offers something truly special. Visitors to the lodge have a full wildlife and cultural experience, enjoying hospitality more akin that offered to a valued family member. With no other tourist facilities within the Group Ranch, it is the ultimate personal experience.
Those interested in community projects can spend time with local women to learn about beading techniques, or visit a local school or health clinic built with funds from an individual donor. These encounters are dignified and respectful, with none of the hustle and bustle of many community visits in other parts of Kenya.
Lodge HighlightsWhen to go
All Year Round Price
From $420 pp All Inclusive Highlights
Pristine Wilderness + Big Five Experience Ideal Stay
Minimum 5 Nights
IL Ngwesi Lodge Booking Seasons
Stay at IL Ngwesi Lodge
Constructed entirely out of local materials, the award winning Il Ngwesi Lodge is perched on the edge of the Mararoi hills close to the Ngare Ndare river in Laikipia District in Kenya, with breathtaking views towards Samburu as far as the eye can see.
Neighboring Lewa, Borana and Lekurruki, Il Ngwesi covers 16,500 hectares and is home to the Il Lakipiak Maasai – ‘people of wildlife’. Truly special, this award winning enterprise combines eco-tourism with sustainable environmental management and community development.
Early Days: Following an approach by Ian Craig from neighbouring Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in the mid 1990s, Il Ngwesi became the first Maasai Group Ranch in Laikipia to join Lewa on a conservation and community development journey with a vision far beyond its borders. Community elders agreed to set aside 8,675 ha of their grazing land for conservation, and in 1996 with funding from USAID through the Kenya Wildlife Service, the superb Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge was built. From the 80 men that worked for 10 months to build the lodge, 10 were selected to be trained to run the lodge and host tourists. A team of rangers (now totalling 16) was also trained at Lewa to oversee security, and monitor and protect people and wildlife.
Wildlife Returns: Wildlife numbers steadily increased. More elephants were evident almost immediately, and within five years numbers had grown significantly, having found a safe place to rest and feed. With the exception of Water Buck that were translocated, all other species native to the area recovered naturally, including the endangered Grevy Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe and Gerenuk (three of the ‘Northern Five’). In 2002, a rare Black Rhino male known as Omni, hand reared on Lewa after being born to a blind female, was translocated to a protected and fenced sanctuary close to the lodge. It was joined in 2006 by two White Rhino, also from Lewa. Tragically in 2013, Omni became a victim of rhino poaching, but the two white rhino remain and the rangers watch over them night and day. All of the main predators including Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Hyena and Jackals are now present in the Group Ranch.
Accommodation at IL Ngwesi Lodge
Designed by Simon du Fresne, six spacious rooms accommodate two to four people. Each one offers a slightly different experience, being either tucked away with views up the valley, adjoined to another by rope bridge for families, or overlooking the water hole. All are designed in an ‘open to the bush’ style with opportunities for viewing wildlife, and two have extended verandas for visitors who wish to sleep under the stars in large four poster star beds.
The main house (Il Laikipiak Hall) at the front of the site offers spectacular views to the north and east as well as down to the water hole while the swimming pool area overlooks the valley and provides an excellent spot to relax in during the day. The water hole – fed by pipes from a nearby spring – attracts a wide variety of birds and animals daily and is the life blood for wildlife in this semi-arid part of Kenya. A hide tucked down the hillside in front of the lodge allows visitors to get closer to the water hole and enjoy the bush in utter peace and quiet.
Experience IL Ngwesi Lodge
It’s all here! Since Il Ngwesi set aside more than 8,500 hectares of its land as a conservation area, the ecosystem has recovered and a full complement of wildlife species has returned. With a number of endangered species including the White Rhino, Grevy Zebra, African Wild Dog, Leopard and Lion now resident on its land, Il Ngwesi is playing a significant role in conserving wildlife in Northern Kenya.
Though some species such as Lion and Leopard are shy and hard to see, commonly seen animals include Elephant, Impala, Waterbuck, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Dik Dik, Gerenuk, Eland, Common and Grevy Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe often in large numbers, Rock Hyrax, Vervet Monkey, Baboon and Warthog. Cheetah, Jackal, Spotted and Striped Hyena are all occasionally seen at the water hole and around the ranch, and Leopard and Hyena are heard calling almost nightly. Il Ngwesi is known as a destination for seeing African Wild Dog, and although the resident pack roams a vast area and is at times absent from the immediate area, when the dogs are around, they make their presence felt. In 2015 the rare Aardwolf was also seen in the ranch.
Supporting Communities: Il Ngwesi Lodge contributes to developing the local communities by supporting education, health and livelihoods projects, by providing jobs and business opportunities with surrounding tourism and other businesses.
There are six Maasai villages in Il Ngwesi Group Ranch, all rooted in a traditional pastoralist lifestyle. Since the mid 1990s, profits from the lodge and generous donations from visitors and well-wishers have contributed to secondary and university school fees and provided funds for local school buildings, health personnel and buildings, and enabled the community to buy additional land to ease grazing pressure. And through a partnership with VSO Jitolee in Kenya, funded by the European Commission, a women’s livelihoods initiative has empowered many local women by supporting them to produce beadwork for local and national markets, set up the shop at the lodge and build up a fund to run the business.
Things to do at IL Ngwesi Lodge
- Superb wildlife viewing from the lodge and its rooms are combined with bush drives
- Sundowners, bush breakfasts by the Ngare Ndare River
- Swimming pool and an in-house beauty/massage therapist are the perfect complement to time spent watching the waterhole from the main house or hide
- Visitors can also walk accompanied to the rhino sanctuary
- Visit a local Maasai Cultural Boma to learn about traditional hunting techniques and honey collecting.
- Enjoy local music and dancing
- Horseriding in the Conservancy
- Running with rangers
- Gym in the wild
- Cycling safaris
- Nanyuki market day
- Wildlife – Livestock integration
Select Tour Ideas
A selection of tour itineraries to showcase what you can do. We encourage you to pick destinations of interest and we custom-make your safari to give you a more personalized experience.
7 Days Big Game Experience
Sasaab Lodge, Samburu | Lewa Wilderness Lodge, Laikipia | Rekero Camp, Maasai Mara
7 Days Intrepid Tanzania
Nomad Chada Katavi Camp, Chada Katavi National Park | Greystoke Mahale, Mahale National Park
7 Days Ultimate Family Experience
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi | Campi ya Kanzi, Chyulu Hills | Olare Mara Kempinski, Maasai Mara
8 Days Migration Experience
Rekero Camp, Masai Mara Game Reserve | Lamai Camp, Serengeti National Park
8 Days Ultimate Bush and Beach
Mara Bush Tops, Masai Mara Game Reserve | Matemwe Beach House, Zanzibar
East Africa Top Luxury Destinations
Kenya epitomizes the safari destination with its big game, big skies, close-up bush encounters with the Big Five and ringside tickets to one of the wonders of the natural world, the annual wildebeest migration.
A bountiful land teeming with African wildlife, flourishing ecosystems and remarkable mountain ranges, Tanzania will forever be imprinted on your heart.