Walking Wild is a walking safari experience through one of Kenya’s best wildlife viewing habitats – the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
This area provides some of the most stunning landscapes in Africa and are home to a wide variety of game including the “Big Five” (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo), over 420 species of birds, reticulated giraffe, cheetah, numerous different antelopes and endangered species such as the Grevy zebra and sitatunga.
The increasing shift away from the confines of a traditional lodge has seen Kitonga develop this exceptional experience into a memorable part of any holiday for any age group. It is particularly popular with children. While the simplicity and chance to spend a few days walking the region with its natural guardians, the Laikip Masai, remains its most popular asset, Walking Wild’s hidden strength lies in the fact it can unlock parts of the soul that a traditional safari cannot, simply because by its very nature no two walks can be the same.
A normal Walking Wild day involves an early start, after a full breakfast then breaking to pass the heat of the day under the shade of an acacia tree. This is an opportunity to allow the animals to come to you and often turns up some excellent sightings. As the day passes the walking will continue towards the night’s camp which will be set up at a new location.
Often by moonlight we are able to watch the animals move around our light weight camps. It is a unique chance to really become part of the conservancy in a way in which the nocturnal activity accepts you as if you have always been part of the wilderness.
You will traverse a variety of ecosystems, enabling you to experience the diversity of flora and fauna that the areas have to offer. The focus of the safari is learning about the ecosystems as well as the local Maasai culture. You will be taught tracking techniques and other vital bush skills, as well as how to identify and understand the behavior of the insects, plants and animals. Local Maasai warriors will join you to give you insight into traditional Maasai customs.
Walking Wild supports the Lewa Wilderness conservation projects. Just a short walk from the main house are a few of the community projects that Walking Wild and Lewa Wilderness is involved with. The first is the carpet making project which is an income generating project for local communities. The participants are manufacturing carpets by hand using traditional methods. Lewa Wilderness then distribute and sell these to generate income. A further short walk through the bush and you come to the workshops which turn out award winning furniture of all shapes and sizes. Like the carpets this too generates income and skills which is now known in all corners of the globe.
On the perimeters of the conservancy Walking Wild and Lewa Wilderness has been working with the communities who do not benefit directly from tourism. These are their neighbours and with whom they share resources, as well as a past and future, but cannot work with on a daily basis. Walking Wild and Lewa Wilderness is firmly committed as a major employer in the region to reaching beyond their own boundaries. This includes an innovative programme to support HIV orphans and their families as well as water projects to help secure increasingly stretched water sources. A range of their quality produce appears in the Lewa Wilderness shop and guests are welcome to visit any of these projects and are actively encouraged to do so to understand the broader issues facing this wonderful region.
Kitonga was born in a Maasai mud hut in the wilds of Northern Kenya. He grew up admiring—and teasing—the wildlife. His love for the animals grew with a great respect for them, so he got involved in tourism back in 1994. Kitonga has worked with Il Ngwesi lodge, which is a lodge in a community-run conservancy part of the Northern Rangelands Trust, and he also worked in Wilderness Trails Lodge in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. He has been a walking guide since 2002, and he now runs Walking Wild, a camel walking safari outfit in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Kitonga is passionate about preserving the land and it’s wildlife, and he knows northern Kenya like the back of his hand.
Kitonga is also a director of the DARE Foundation (Development Assistance for Rural Enterprises), a non-profit organization working to educate and empower groups with business skills, developing a Maasai primary schools, helping to rehabilitate street children are just a few of the projects.