Using sustainable tourism as a vehicle for creating positive change

Using sustainable tourism as a vehicle for creating positive change

Basecamps’ work has received recognition locally and globally. This is a great motivating factor for those working with Basecamp. In Kenya the impact of our work is visible to the communities at the destinations, to our visitors, and to the international community. In Spitsbergen, we have to tell the story: We do more than we tell. Employees are attracted to Basecamp by the opportunity to work with an organization that is committed to engaging people in finding solutions to their challenges, contributing to the transformation of lives, and dealing with issues of global significance such as climate change, biodiversity conservation, and poverty. - Judith A. Kepher-Gona, CEO and Projects Manager, Basecamp Foundation–Kenya.

On the ground, whether in the Maasai Mara or Spitsbergen, such global challenges are more than academic debates. They are real. Operating at these distinctly different destinations is challenging. Yet it is rewarding and fruitful. In several cases, we have successfully managed to transfer lessons learned by building on joint experiences.

This is the case with our two arts and craft centers in Kenya and India, and most recently we have also been developing the novel concept of Green Villages, piloting a new approach to use of solar energy with women/grandmothers as the drivers.

Maasai Mara in Kenya has been our main focus. Here, the Maasai have for years noticed that droughts are becoming more frequent, and water is getting ever scarcer. There are even reports of declining wildlife numbers.

Not only is the world-renowned annual migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest under threat, but so are the livelihoods and lives of thousands of residents of the area, who depend on land as their only source of wealth creation. We need to act.


Basecamp has taken action. Through our twelve years of operation in the Maasai Mara, we have learnt many lessons. We have learnt that people, planet, and prosperity cannot be divorced from each other, and that challenges facing the area are best addressed through partnerships with the community and like-minded organisations. We have also learnt that wealth creation should be the outcome of any intervention we engage in, be it land management, conservation, cultural preservation, or even education.

Our approach has been anchored in sustainable tourism. We have demonstrated that sustainable tourism can provide a mechanism for achieving community wealth creation, conservation, empowerment, cultural preservation, climate change mitigation, and social development, among other benefits.

And our work has been recognized.

Basecamp has won many prestigious ecotourism and sustainable tourism awards. These endorsements resonate well with our vision of being a showcase for sustainable tourism. At Basecamp we continually challenge ourselves. This is why in 2006, at the invitation of the local community, we boldly embarked on a process to create a community wildlife conservancy; the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

Launched in 2010, Mara Naboisho competes with some of the largest corporate organizations in Kenya, guaranteeing a monthly income to close to 500 landowners and offering employment to more than 300 young people. In Naboisho we have the embryo of a development model that can be a real showcase for the world. It has already attracted considerable interest, both nationally and internationally.


The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is, without a doubt, our main accomplishment so far. We have achieved this through a community readiness process and collaboration with a number of stakeholders and key partners, within the community, in the industry, and with Kenyan authorities.

Our goal is to make the conservancy a model for community conservation through public-private partnership. Several conservancies are being modelled along the core values of Mara Naboisho, while others are modifying their models to the same principles. Most importantly, we are seeing secure villages comfortable in the knowledge that they have a guaranteed monthly income, healthcare, schools, and other social services provided through the conservancy.

Even more encouragingly, we are seeing the return of wildlife to Naboisho!

We are working to create long-term social, environmental, and economic benefits in destinations using sustainable tourism as a vehicle. We do this by relying on the trust and support of host communities, volunteers, travel philanthropists, investors, development agencies, governments, sponsors, and partners, all as part of a holistic approach to sustainable destination development.

With twelve challenging and inspiring years behind us, we have only just started this journey – a journey full of adventures and rewards!

Would you like to be part of the movement for sustainable tourism?

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