Camp Manager's Diaries

Hosting Jonathan and Angela Scott

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Dear Friends,

In all the hustle and bustle and excitement of the merger into Elewana Collection last year, we have been quite quiet in updating our diaries for you.

However, we have a great story to tell to bring the Manager Diaries back to life!

The other week we had the pleasure of hosting Jonathan and Angela Scott, the world- renowned naturalists and photographers. Here is what they had to say about their stay:

We just had the most amazing 4 nights at Elephant Pepper Camp filming with National Geographic in one of our favourite parts of the Maasai Mara – the Mara North Conservancy. This is familiar territory for us: Fig Tree Ridge, Leopard Gorge and Mara Buffalo Rocks are some of the most beautiful stretches of wild country in Africa. Angie and I have spent many happy days, weeks and months in the company of the Mara’s star leopards – Chui and the Mara Buffalo Female in the 1970s and 1980s, Half-Tail and Zawadi in the 1990s and 2000s, and Zawadi’s daughter in more recent times. A drive down Leopard Gorge is always a magical experience. The oceans of long red oat grass make this time of the year spectacular – perfect for backlit shots of lions and cheetahs in the early morning or late evening. Hundreds of elephants can be seen ploughing deep furrows through the grasslands, taking time to socialise and breed with food in such abundance. The birdlife is always a feature of any safari to the Mara with the male Jackson’s Widow Bird performing its eye catching dance in the long grass to attract a mate, while Weaver Bird colonies are alive with noise and activity as the males construct intricate grass nests among the acacia bushes along the watercourses.

Elephant Pepper Camp is the perfect retreat to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Set among the soothing canopy of a patch of forest, the tents are bright and spacious, elegantly and tastefully appointed, with nice large shower heads to soak under after long days on safari. The food is a treat for all palates and the chef is only too happy to accommodate the most demanding dietary requirements. The vehicles are spacious and great for photography with guides who will ensure that you get the most from each game drive. A safari is always defined by your Hosts back at camp, and Patrick and Sophie Dessy make each visitor feel special; nothing is too much trouble, and all delivered with an open friendly manner that inspires confidence and adds that extra element that defines a great camp.

We always remind people that the Mara is much more than its big cats. Of course we all want to see a lion standing tall in the long grass, its long mane blowing in the wind. And their are lions aplenty in Mara North Conservancy. But a safari to this Garden of Eden is also about taking time to simply enjoy the sights and sounds of Africa in all their myriad of forms, from the flat- topped acacias and desert dates marooned in all that long grass, to a sundowner sipped along the banks of the Mara River. So be sure to take time to sit back and enjoy one of the most magical spots in Africa, whether from your vehicle or from a deck chair on the privacy of the veranda of your tent. Bliss!

And don’t forget to make a visit to a Maasai village to learn more about their colourful culture and the role they are playing in helping to conserve this unique paradise. William ole Pere’s village near Aitong is somewhere we always visit whenever we are in this part of the Mara.
~Jonathan & Angela

​Thank you Jonathan and Angela, we thoroughly enjoyed hosting you and the National Geographic team!

Patrick & Sophie​

C&P Properties Merging with the Elewana Collection

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Dear Friends,

As you can see from the announcement below, all the formal, legal stuff has finally been completed – thank goodness! We are all excited and have lots to look forward to. As you can imagine creating new websites, brochures etc., is going to take some time and we are planning a few launch parties during the year – watch this space.

Liz and I are especially excited, as with the larger team, we now have operational and admin support, and in both Kenya and Tanzania, can focus on the things we love and why we started this adventure all those years ago – food, guiding, walks, bush breakfasts ….. SAFARI !!

I am currently at ITB, and don’t forget that I will be at We Are Africa and Indaba soon – hope to see you there,

Best wishes

Stefano & Liz

Elewana

We are extremely pleased to announce the completion of the acquisition of Cheli & Peacock Group of Companies by the Elewana Collection, which received final Government approval at the end of January 2015.

The acquisition will see the Cheli & Peacock properties, namely, Elsa’s Kopje, Elephant Pepper Camp, Joy’s Camp, Tortillis Camp, Kitich Camp and Lewa Safari Camp merge under the banner of the Elewana Collection to form a comprehensive circuit of 14 properties spanning the highlights of Northern Tanzania, Kenya and Zanzibar.

The table below shows the full extent of the portfolio that will fall under the Elewana Collection:

Elewana Collection

Cheli & Peacock Safaris will continue to act independently of the Elewana Collection under the leadership of Stefano and Liz Cheli. Stefano and Liz will focus on innovations within the Company to enhance its offering as a destination experience manager.

The merger of the Cheli & Peacock’s Portfolio with that of the Elewana Collection is now underway and we envisage a formal launch of the newly-merged Group by the middle of 2015. In advance of the launch we will provide you with details of any changes that may occur to the booking and reservations process. In the meantime it is very much business as usual and therefore please continue to make your reservations for the respective properties as you currently do.

For the Elewana Collection, we would like to take this opportunity to inform you that the rates for 2016 and 2017 will be available imminently. These will remain static – for the two years in question – in order to provide some degree of pricing visibility and much-needed stability in what has been a turbulent time for East African tourism.

It only leaves us to say a big ‘thank you’ to all our trade partners and suppliers for your continued support to both Cheli & Peacock and Elewana. We believe that the combination of Cheli & Peacock’s long-standing history and experience of safaris and that of our now enhanced regional product offering will deliver a truly genuine and memorable destination experience for all our mutual clients.

Karim S. Wissanji – Chairman & CEO,
Elewana Collection

Stefano and Liz Cheli – CEO,
Cheli & Peacock Safaris

500 Treated at the Masai Mara Medical Camp

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In June 2014 the Cheli & Peacock Community Trust held its third medical camp at the Aitong Health Centre, not far from Elephant Pepper Camp in the Masai Mara.

Aitong Medical Centre Patients
Aitong Medical Centre Patients

The three-day camp took place from 24th – 26th June, 2014 and focussed on adult health, maternal child health (including cervical cancer screening and family planning), nutrition and dentistry.

Maternal-child Health
Maternal-child Health

The main aim of the camp was to concentrate on these four areas of health, while also building the capacity of the staff clinicians and community health workers.

Working with our partners Safarilink and The Kicheche Community Trust, a team of six were flown to the Mara North Conservancy for the medical camp and stayed at the nearby Elephant Pepper Camp. Dr Anne Kihara, Dr Rose Kosgei, Dr Irene Marete, Dr Sarah Awino and three dentistry experts kindly volunteered their time to work alongside health centre staff to treat an impressive 544 patients!

Capacity Building for Health Workers
Capacity Building for Health Workers

The majority of patients required paediatric attention, while others were treated for Obs and Gynae related matters, general ailments and dentistry.

Team of Doctors
Team of Doctors

Fantastic progress was made with general outreach. However, to build a way forward with the community, the Trust has highlighted that more training on early diagnosis, prevention of infection, dietary issues that place severe pressure on dental care, and male attitudes to family planning needs to be the focus of future work with the Aitong Health Centre. It was also agreed that collaborating with other partners and clinics in the area, alongside the Ministry of Health would also bring great benefit.

Happy Young Patients
Happy Young Patients

The Cheli & Peacock Community Trust, its partners and volunteers are already planning the next medical camp in November/December this year, which will look to build the capacity of Aitong clinic staff through training on key health-related issues (such as Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care) and also branch into other clinics nearby.

Commenting on the medical camp Stefano Cheli, owner of Cheli & Peacock says: “We began this medical camp in 2012, and since its inception, the team of experts and the wonderful staff at the clinic have provided free medical care to over 1,200 members of the local Aitong community. We are immensely grateful not only to our partner and doctors that made June’s camp such as success, but the wonderful community of guests and donors that continue to support our Trust projects across Kenya. Your kindness and generosity is invaluable. Thank you.”

If you would like to find out how to donate, please contact Chania Frost, Chania@chelipeacock.co.ke

All the best,

Patrick, Sophie and the C&P Community Trust

 

 

Elephant Pepper Camp wins Eco Warrior Award

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Elephant Pepper Camp’s accolades continue to grow! After receiving it’s GOLD Eco Rating for the 2nd time, Elephant Pepper Camp won this years’ Eco Warrior Award as Best Tented Camp in Kenya, recognizing its exceptional achievements in responsible and sustainable tourism!

Elephant Pepper Camp is one of only eight camps in Kenya to have been awarded “Gold Level” Eco Rating by the internationally recognised organisation Eco Tourism Kenya. The camp achieves environmental best practice by combining old fashioned safari camp know-how with the latest technology, leaving a minimal footprint. Almost invisible under the Elephant Pepper trees with completely removable tent structures, the camp relies entirely on solar power and uses only LED lighting.

Since 2011 Cheli & Peacock and it’s collection of properties have won 5 Eco Warrior Awards in various categories, including Eco Enterprise of the Year 2011 & 2012 and we are delighted to add yet another trophy to our ‘Hall of Fame’!

The Eco Warrior Awards are organized by Ecotourism Kenya, founded in 1996 as the first Ecotourism Society worldwide! The awards gala held on 24th September 2013 was also the ideal occasion to kick off The International Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference which was proudly hosted in Nairobi last week, bringing together over 500 professionals from around the world!

To further the celebrations, Cheli & Peacock’s Elsa’s Kopje won one of Andrew Harper’s coveted Reader’s Choice Awards, listing Elsa’s Kopje as one of the world’s 20 best safari lodges!

The latest in a string of award wins, readers once again found Elsa’s Kopje’s combination of character, elegance, blissful solitude, unique design and superb wildlife to be an award-winning mix.

We congratulate the entire staff of Elsa’s Kopje and Elephant Pepper Camp and of course the Cheli & Peacock Community Trust Team!

Dinner in Delhi, Breakast in the Bush!

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Changing times and tight schedules have meant shorter and shorter safaris. Three days would have been unthinkable back in the day; the norm being at least a couple of months and that too after many months of planning. Today, it is possible to have Dinner in Delhi, and Breakfast in the Bush!

An overnight flight from New Delhi to Nairobi followed by a short hop from Nairobi into the airfield at Mara North, is painless and surprisingly convenient.

Within just 15 minutes of landing on the ‘bush’ strip, and a few delicious Scotch Eggs down, we chanced upon the resident male Leopard of the area also breakfasting – albeit up a tree and on a freshly killed Impala!

Leopard with a freshly killed Impala in the tree
Leopard with a freshly killed Impala in the tree

In the 3 days that followed, we had multiple sightings of big cats; 50 different Lions – the Elephant Pepper Camp Pride which has now soared to 29, the famous Marsh Pride of 15, two solitary females, and a mating couple who had reportedly spent the better part of a week together.

The famous Cheli & Peacock lion pride
The famous Cheli & Peacock lion pride

We tracked a coalition of three young Cheetahs, whom we photographed stalking, charging and successfully killing a male Thompson’s Gazelle in the middle of the day! Before hungry Hyenas and vultures found their way to the kill, the three adolescents gobbled up their venison-lunch and retired for a siesta in a croton bush, escaping the searing East-African sun.

Cheetah on the hunt...
Cheetah on the hunt...
Cheetah with its kill
Cheetah with its kill

We saw Marshall Eagles trying to swoop down on suckling Warthog piglets, African Fish Eagles fighting over a kill, Tawny eagles feasting and numerous other raptors.

African Fish Eagles fighting over a kill
African Fish Eagles fighting over a kill

Large herds of buffalo chose to graze the patch around our tent most nights! And, we fell asleep listening to lions roaring in the distance. On our last day we found two male cheetahs hunting, unsuccessfully, near our camp. We even managed to see a herd of Wildebeest cross the Mara River, heading south into the Serengeti in search of greener pastures…

A short yet action-packed safari! Come and see for yourselves…

Written and Photographed by Jaisal Singh, co-owner of Elephant Pepper Camp about his recent visit to the Masai Mara

Follow Jaisal on Twitter or click here to see more…

Mara on the Move…

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The Great Migration is in full swing and the temptation of so much food is just too much for the predators which flock around the camp to take advantage of this period of excess.

Here at Elephant Pepper Camp we’re in the thick of the migration route and it’s quite something to enjoy afternoon tea and watch them all fly by.

For the past week, the magnificent Cheli & Peacock lion pride have been very close to camp and making the most of the plentiful wildebeest. Many of our guests have enjoyed watching some spectacular kills very close to camp, including one right outside our Honeymoon Ten,t and later falling asleep to the night-time sounds of this 29-strong pride.

Whilst our Conservancy may be packed with wildlife, it certainly isn’t packed with visitors. This 70,000 acre haven borders the main Maasai Mara Reserve but is accessible only to a select few camps. During the migration months our guests have the best of both worlds – easy access to the Reserve to witness exhilarating river crossings but with the luxury of retreating to the idyllic and peaceful setting of Elephant Pepper Camp, in the heart of the Mara North Conservancy.

This month we’ve also been harvesting our own honey – much to the delight of our guests! More on this in our next blog – for now we’re getting back to the migration…

Wishing you a wonderful weekend,

Patrick, Sophie & the entire EPC team

Welcome!

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Welcome to the new Elephant Pepper Camp website, we will be sharing with you news from camp, including special wildlife sightings and exciting happenings in the conservancy. Best wishes Patrick and Sophie.

Diary Archive