Kenyan Forest Reserve / Mathews Mountain Range
Celebrate 50 years of Kenya's Mathews Mountain Range with a Cheli & Peacock adventure at Kitich Camp
10.4.2014 | Rosie Kempson
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the designation of the spectacular Mathews Mountain Range as a Kenyan Forest Reserve. In 1964, scientists and government alike formally recognised the biological significance of this 900 km2 of pristine natural forest in one of the most remote and untouched areas of Northern Kenya.
Dubbed a 'biological bonanza' by the BBC, the Mathews Mountain Range rises up - rather unusually - out of the desert: a chain of peaks that forms a 'sky island' surrounded by vast dry plains. As such, a number of the species in the Mathew's have evolved independently and the diversity of its forest is of great conservation value.
Research suggests that there are over 150 species of butterfly, 17 of dragonfly and damselfly, 5 primate species, 29 large- and medium-sized mammals and 153 species of birds in the Mathews Mountains.
Wildlife includes the extremely rare Melanistic leopard (also known as the black panther), forest elephant, lion, buffalo, Colobus monkey, De Brazza monkey, giant forest hog and Africa's endangered wild dog as well as ancient prehistoric cycads - a remnant of a group of plants that was common in the Jurassic era, more than 150 million years ago.
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While numerous international research bodies have studied the Mathews Mountain Range, there is still much to be uncovered and a plethora of new species to be identified. This little-explored corner of Kenya offers one of the best opportunities for discovery in the 21st century and Cheli & Peacock invites intrepid adventurers to stay at the idyllic hideaway, Kitich Camp. This authentic 'bush camp' nestles in a verdant grove of trees on the banks of the Ngeng River - built from local materials it blends perfectly with the surroundings and its cosy lounge, beautiful deck and six traditional tents overlook the river glade below.
This is not your traditional game-driving country, mass tourism has not yet arrived meaning Kitich Camp has this huge expanse of uninhabited wilderness to itself and guests have much to discover. Taking advantage of the pristine wilderness, the camp offers a truly unique and private forest wildlife experience like no other in Africa: guests explore on foot, guided by the 'masters of the forest', the Ndorobo Samburu guides.
Meaning 'place of happiness' - named so by the local community - Kitich Camp soon gets under the skin of all who spend time in this peaceful, unspoilt part of Kenya. Spend the days exploring the mountains, learning ancient wildlife tracking techniques and swimming in natural rock pools formed by crystal clear mountain streams. Return to camp for sundowners around the campfire and a delicious supper under the stars, overlooking the floodlit river glade below. Dusk is a magical time at Kitich Camp as elephant, buffalo, bushbuck and occasionally leopard emerge from the forest, walking right through camp.
Kitich Camp lies within the 800,000 acre Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, which encompasses the entirety of the Mathews Mountain Range. Established in 1995, the conservancy promotes wildlife conservation and socio-economic development through sustainable use of natural resources. The initiative is facilitated by the Northern Rangelands Trust, of which Stefano Cheli - owner of Cheli & Peacock - is a Trustee. The NRT is a non-profit organisation that provides capacity building at grassroots level, empowering the local community to effectively manage their own conservancy.
Kitich Camp is a key tourism partner of the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, employing 90% of its staff from the surrounding communities. All guests are also required to pay a US$40 per person per night conservancy fee - vital to fund conservation efforts. Alongside this, The Cheli & Peacock Community Trust has raised an additional US$4,885 for the local Engilai Primary School and installed a rainwater harvesting project that is used by the entire community.
Stefano and Liz Cheli, Owners of Cheli & Peacock comment: "Kitich Camp is an incredibly special and unique camp - very much off-the-beaten track and in one of the most beautiful and unusual reserves in Kenya. We have always strived to give our guests a true safari experience - an unforgettable, up-close encounter with the 'real Africa' and the Mathews Mountain Range truly is an undiscovered wilderness. We are delighted to be supporting this important Forest Reserve and the work of the Northern Rangelenads Trust and its Namunyak Conservancy."
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