10 years of magic at Mahali Mzuri
The idea behind the camp came about in 2007, when I visited Nairobi and learnt about the conservation threats to the Olare Motorogi region. The region forms one of the main routes for wildlife to migrate from the Serengeti, through the Maasai Mara, and into Kenya’s Loita Hills, so we wanted to help find a solution. And so, we worked with the Maasai landowners to work out the best way to help, and Mahali Mzuri became the wonderful result. It’s amazing to see how conservation remains the driving force behind everything the team does at Mahali, and that 80% of the team now hail from the local community. Wilson Odhiambo, who has been general manager of Mahali Mzuri since 2017, tells the story so well in this video.
Mahali Mzuri means ‘beautiful place’ in Swahili, and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect translation. Over the years, I’ve witnessed the most majestic scenes at Mahali Mzuri. From front row views of the Great Migration, to leopards and lions lounging around with their cubs, cheetahs hunting in packs, elephants walking into the sunset, dust storms forming around galloping wildebeest, and gangly giraffes with necks that seem to touch the purple skies at dawn. I can’t count the amount of wildlife I’ve seen strolling past my tent, or explain how magnificent it is to see Maasai warriors dancing the Adumu. It’s no wonder that Mahali has been ranked the number one hotel in the world and the number one safari lodge in the world, among many other awards over the years. These accolades are such a strong testament to the wonderful team on the ground and at Virgin Limited Edition.
It also makes me proud to see that some of the team members who helped build the camp all those years ago are still working with us today, including Bob, who is now Mahali’s head waiter. We also have a wonderful female Guide, which is rare in a region where women are often married very young and do not have the chance to forge their own careers. Betty is a Guide who has worked at Mahali since 2005, and inspires her own children and other young girls in her tribe to study hard and dream big about their careers. Brilliant.
Adding to the magic is the intricate connection to community. Since we opened the camp, Virgin Limited Edition has worked to uplift the local community in three key areas: education, water and sanitation/health. One of the wonderful success stories has been the decade-long development and ongoing support of a local school for 300 students. The school is now complete with a dining hall, computer lab, accommodation, bathroom, rainwater harvesting system and a school meal programme which tackles malnutrition. Most recently, Mahali has unveiled a charity called Inua Jamii (which means, ‘uplifting the community’ in Swahili) which will channel its community work and spearhead future initiatives. The camp is also very close to the completion of a solar farm that will provide 100% of the camp’s energy, as well as a larger garden to supply the kitchen with fresh vegetables and herbs.
It's great to see how much Mahali Mzuri has evolved, thanks to tireless work from the entire team, and to realise its impact will ripple further for many years to come.
To celebrate its 10th birthday, Virgin Limited Edition has created a series of films called ‘Creating a Better Future’ which will share more wonderful stories from the camp, and which you can find right here.