WHAT OUR GUESTS SAY
We are over the moon to be included in the exclusive Condé Nast Traveler Gold List for the second year in a row as one of their favorite hotels in the world! We were thrilled to be included in 2016 and to hear that we have won this award again for 2017 is such an honour. As one of the ultimate arbiters of luxury travel, this distinction from Condé Nast is indeed something to shout about!
We have also recently been announced as an Andrew Harper Reader's Choice 2016 Winner, voted as one of their top 20 safari lodges worldwide. This is another huge honor for us, particularly as it is the 4th time we have won this award.
More great news with our achievements in the 2017 Safari Awards as Highly Commended in the Best Safari House in Kenya category and as a Finalist in the Best Safari Cuisine in Kenya category. We were also Finalists in both these categories for the whole of Africa.
Of no less significance to us was being a finalist in the 2016 Ecotourism Kenya Eco-Warrior Awards in the Eco-rated Lodge of the Year category, having won this award in 2015. Our success in these awards reflects all the effort and passion we have put in to developing environmentally friendly practices in camp and community support and development.
Finally, we were thrilled to be nominated in the 2016 World Travel Awards as ‘Africa’s Leading Safari Lodge’. We hope to win this next year!
WILLIE & SUE
Sirikoi is the home of Willie and Sue Roberts who, after a lifetime of guiding safaris and developing lodges across Kenya, realised the potential of this unique area of Northern Kenya as the location for their most visionary lodge to-date.
Willie was born in Kenya and grew up with his six siblings and herds of pet animals (including a pair of buffalo that the children would ride!) at Lake Baringo, a remote and beautiful part of the Rift Valley. The nearest shops were 70 miles away down a very rough road - during the rains they would be cut off for weeks on end.
On one occasion Willie's father David flew on the inaugural Pan Am flight to America and took the family's pet cheetah Ella as his mascot. Room service in New York was amazed at the amount of raw meet David could consume!
David died tragically when Willie was 13. The family were faced with the prospect of leaving Kenya, but Willie was determined that this was not going to happen. After repeatedly running away from boarding school in protest, his mother Betty agreed they could stay and that he could help run the family business.
Willie began guiding and operating mobile safaris in his teens (using wooden blocks to help him reach the pedals of the game drive vehicles!). He organized his first safari to Lake Turkana in the remotest part of Northern Kenya, and with his guests has explored many wild and fascinating parts of Africa since then.
At 19 he built his first small lodge with a friend on one of the islands in Lake Baringo. Sue, who grew up on the Kenyan coast, came to work here and three years later they were married. Sue and Willie built their first home on another island, Samatian, which has now been converted into a beautiful lodge by their daughter Caroline and her husband Ross.
In 1981 Willie and Sue started an arable farm in the Northern Masai Mara. Soon realizing that the area was better suited for wildlife, Willie managed to reverse the farming trend and as a result 8,000 acres reverted to wildlife and thousands more acres were saved from the plough. He set up an association for Masai land owners, enabling them to collect wildlife based revenue on their land. In 2000 Willie established the Mara Conservancy in an area known as the “Mara Triangle”, with outstanding results. Over half the area had been a “no go” area for visitors, with rampant poaching and hunting. The area became safe for visitors and poaching stopped. The conservancy has since become a model for conservation.
Following on from this, Willie partnered with his brother Andy on create a lodge on Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria. The lodge became an instant success. Looking for a new project, and hearing about a large parcel of land adjacent to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy that had the potential to become an important extension to the conservancy, Willie & Sue worked hard to secure the area for wildlife and to incorporate it within Lewa. They identified the perfect site for a lodge overlooking the wetlands created by the Sirikoi river, and welcomed their first guests to Sirikoi lodge in 2005.
Over the past 30 years Willie has spent an enormous amount of time & energy helping to conserve wild animals, and helping communities who live with wildlife benefit from its presence on their land.
James hails from one of the smallest sub-tribes of the Maasai, called Ngwesi, and was born in a small village called Leperua. He always dreamed of becoming a guide, and started showing people around his village when he was still in high school.
The experience of meeting new people from around the world was something James loved, and says is still a highlight of his job. James' most exciting sighting so far has been a Martial eagle killing a baby impala, with a Crowned eagle swooping in to try and get the prey as well. James is married.
Legei was also born in the Leperua area, and is part of the Maasai Ngwesi sub-tribe. He was first attracted to wildlife whilst out with his cattle on the traditional four year period of testing which every warrior must undergo, and then met Willie Roberts who brought him to Sirikoi in 2010 to train as a guide.
Today, Legei has his bronze award, and is going for his silver award next year. Seeing the rare sitatunga antelope on Lewa has been a huge highlight for Legei, and he feels passionately about protecting nature for future generations. Legei is married with a young daughter.
Ole Ngila Loitamany Johnson, from a small village called Arijijo in Laikipia North, is a professional safari guide and holder of a KPSGA Silver level badge, with experience ofover 10 years working as a safari guide. Previously he worked with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy research department for a year which gave him a wide range of field and bush experience. He was also the Head of the Archaeology Department on Lewa, responsible for establishing a museum at the Children's Education Centre.
One day when Ngila was with guests, watching two jackals kill and begin feeding on a young impala fawn, he was amazed to see a Martial eagle swoop down and grab - not only the fawn, but one of the jackals, and fly off with them. The jackal eventually let go his hold of the fawn and fell to the ground - none the worse for its first flight!
Onesmus Lesiata is a Samburu from Mwamba. He worked for Save the Elephants before pursuing his dream to become a guide. He realised that dream in Sasaab where he did his training, and worked in the Mara and Ol Pejeta before coming to Lewa. What Onesmus finds special about Lewa is that, unlike many other conservancies and parks in Kenya, there is a high concentration of Black and White Rhino and he feels passionate about protecting these amazing animals for future generations to enjoy!