From the warriors who guide, entertain and inspire our guests to the talented chef who keeps them nourished, everyone working at camp is from the local region. Having blended to form a close-knit team, the staff of Lemarti’s perform in harmony, and the camp’s success is a testament to that.
During your stay here at Lemarti’s Camp you will be spending your time with members of the Samburu and Laikipiak Maasai tribes. Laikipiak Maasai are the northern branch of the Maasai tribe, who adorn themselves like Samburu people but are quite distinctive from both the Samburu as well the rest of the Maasai people in their traditions, manor and sensitivity. Traditionally the northern tribes were all nomadic, basically pastoralists with some having communal titles to their land (in which case the land is called a group ranch). Here on Koija there are approx. 1500 inhabitants occupying just less than 8000 acres.
The main source of income is tourism. Family units live in homesteads called manyattas and their main income comes from livestock as well as honey harvesting. Within the tribes, girls grow up and are married off (still mainly arranged marriages) and move to their new husbands’ homes, while the men of the family stay at home and bring their wives into the family. Each homestead is one family. The main rites of passage are birth, circumcision, marriage, becoming a junior elder by leaving warrior hood, elder, senior elder and finally of course death which is handled quite differently to anything we know. Elders are respected vehemently but when they pass away they are buried instantly, their possessions given away and life continues. Warriors are there to protect the tribe and move livestock during times of drought.
The nomadic tribes of Northern Kenya as a whole have had to change their very way of life and become semi nomadic if not settled pastoralists who still have not been converted to any kind of agriculture especially as they live in arid areas. Added to this, the pressure of educating the young along with the widespread use of mobile telephones capped with a new Rush for the North in the tourism sector means the stresses and strains on the traditions of these cultures are enormous.
First and foremost, you really are in every way being hosted by indigenous people who are your hosts, caretakers of the camp, of this community and of the Samburu people. Just by spending time at the camp you will get a strong idea of the heart and soul of the people – this is really hard to replace with a mere cultural visit. Please don’t underestimate that. Your hosts Boniface and Lemarti are also happy at any time to really talk you through any questions you may have about their culture. You have come a long way to be here and experience it, please feel free to really make use of this opportunity. There are some excellent coffee table books in the tents which are also full of information.