Following the hugely popular 10-part BBC2 series – This Wild Life – the UK public is keen to experience Saba Douglas-Hamilton’s delightful family-run property in Samburu, Elephant Watch Camp. It is now being marketed to the UK travel trade by Kamili.
Wildlife film-maker and conservationist, Saba Douglas-Hamilton and Tim Henshall (MD of Kamili) met in London, ahead of her hugely successful lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in early October. She'd newly arrived from the States, having been at an elephant summit in Jackson Hole.
Brief introductions and small talk over, as soon as they began discussing the camp and her entire family's commitment to conservation, Saba truly came to life. It was clear she is both passionate and dynamic... leaving Tim trying to imagine just how inspiring she would be when she wasn't suffering jet lag!
Saba was keen to emphasise that Elephant Watch Camp expands ‘eco-tourism’ by engaging at a deeper level with the wildlife and landscape to offer 'conservation tourism’.
“We feel it's part of our mission to ensure that guests leave with an increased understanding and commitment towards conserving Kenya's wildlife and engaging with the local people in a meaningful way.”
Conservation tourism takes “eco” a step further. The idea is both to do no harm and to give something back. Saba describes the camp’s elephant encounters as akin to swimming with wild dolphins. It’s impossible not to fall in love! Conservation becomes central to the experience, because inevitably you protect the things you love. Simply by visiting national parks you help to conserve the animals. But at Elephant Watch you engage in conservation at a much deeper level, and also have a truly memorable safari experience!
Elephant Watch Camp is a "bohemian chic " tented camp with just 6 guest rooms. Saba took over management in 2014, but she emphasizes that it's very much a family enterprise - her mother, Oria, constructed the camp 14 years ago and is still the creative force behind it. The family’s love of nature is evident in the way each room is built under its own tree, blending in with the environment. Elephants often pass through, and in the morning you’re woken by a chorus of songbirds. It has the feeling of home, especially as Saba, husband Frank Pope (who works for Save the Elephants) and their children all live there, along with a host of Samburu warriors from the local community.
“We try to peel back the layers of meaning so that each day your understanding and appreciation of the wild world deepens, in a beautiful, authentic setting that is both superbly comfortable but also luxuriously simple.”
The camp provided the focal point for a much-acclaimed 10 part TV-series broadcast in September on primetime BBC2. We were both glad to agree that UK tour operators would thankfully see beyond the dramatisation of daily events at the camp. "We're not really that disorganised behind the scenes!" Saba laughed. But the series has brought valuable exposure to the camp and its conservation links, with a surge of enquiries coming in.
"The camp is my home and, yes, I'm the host... but it's a passion project of the entire family, each committed to delivering amazing experiences that enhance our understanding of Nature ”
For more information on the camp, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com