On 20th October 2010 Prince William and Kate Middleton became engaged whilst on holiday in Kenya at Lewa Safari Camp within the Lewa Wildlife conservancy which is situated in the Laikipia Plateau.
We thought we would take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about the area which William chose to ask his bride and why it is so special.
The couple got engaged on the Lewa Conservancy which is in central Kenya approximately 225 km north of the capital Nairobi reached by road or light aircraft. On the foothills of Mount Kenya the 65,000 acre wildlife conservancy of Lewa is home to about 10 percent of Kenya's black rhino population, and the single largest population of Grevy's zebra in the world. It was also made famous in the National Geographic programme "Game Ranger's Diaries".
William spent part of his gap year here living with the family of the founder, Ian Craig and Lewa is obviously somewhere he holds dear to his heart.
The conservancy started in 1983 when David and Delia Craig set aside 5,000 acres of their cattle ranch as the Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary. The couple felt is necessary to do this as a result of to the precipitous decline of black rhinos across Africa in the 1970s. At the time government wildlife agencies and conservation organizations increasingly turned to private landowners, non-profit organizations and indigenous communities to protect the few remaining animals. In Kenya, the number of black rhinos dropped from an estimated 20,000 to fewer than 300 animals, and the only way to prevent their complete extinction was to create high security sanctuaries. Anna Merz, a conservationist and philanthropist, threw in her savings; and together with the Craigs they recruited game-trackers, bush pilots, veterinarians and others to round-up and protect Kenya's rhinos.
For the next few years, they tracked, captured and relocated every remaining wild rhino in northern Kenya to the refuge for breeding and safekeeping. The programme was so successful that within a decade more space was needed, leading the Craigs to dedicate their entire ranch to conservation and form the non-profit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in 1995.
The reserve supports over 440 species of birds and more than 70 different mammals. Its rhino population has grown steadily, not only restoring local numbers but enabling black rhino reintroduction in regions where they long had been absent.
Lewa has certainly become the model for responsible tourism. Lewa re-invests all the profits generated from tourism into its core programmes, environmental and social. When you visit Lewa, your overnight stays contribute towards neighbouring communities with education support, health-care support, water projects, agricultural projects, social development and a women's micro-credit programme. You will help thousands of people from different backgrounds and cultures to improve their lives, and give their children a future, at the same time as ensuring Africa's wildlife has a stable home.
You can follow Prince William and Kate Middleton to Kenya, and stay at Cheli & Peacock's Lewa Safari Camp. The Camp has outstanding game viewing, and spectacular views to Mt. Kenya to the south and arid lowlands to the north. Each tent has a thatched roof, verandah
and full ensuite bathroom, very much in the 'Lewa' style. The tents are designed to give you the feeling of sleeping in a large safari tent while enjoying all the amenities of a permanent lodge.
The central areas have exquisite gardens with a sunny verandah and swimming pool to enjoy during the day, and cosy log fires in the lounge and dining room in the chilly evenings.
Activities on offer for you include day and night game dries, guided bush walks, horse riding expeditions and visits to the conservancy's archaeological site.
Trips to Lewa can be combined with further safari in a national reserve like the Masai Mara and a beach stay along Kenya's incredible coast or further afield in the likes of Mauritius or the Seychelles.