Il Ngwesi Group Ranch Maasai Community Conservation Safari Laikipia

Il Ngwesi Group Ranch Sunset, Laikipia Plateau, Kenya 

 ‘Il Ngwesi’ means “people of wildlife” in Laikipiak Masai and the name couldn’t be more appropriate. It was one of the first community-led conservation initiatives in northern Kenya, set up with a vision to sustainably manage the environment in order to graze livestock and conserve wildlife, which it was hoped would in turn, encourage tourists.


The Il Ngwesi Group Ranch is north of Mount Kenya and covers an area of 16,500 hectares. The ranch is not a ranch in the traditional sense but is rather a huge tract of land owned by many Maasai villages the Il Ngwesi community of the Mukogodo division of Laikipia district.

The local Il Ngwesi community often referred to as the Laikipiak (or Mukogodo) Maasai were hunter gatherer Ndorobo (Il dorobo) called the Yiaku until the 1920′s when they slowly changed their traditional custom as hunters and bee keepers and got assimilated to the “superior”, cattle keeping tradition of the local Samburu. They also changed their language from Cushitic to maa speakers. The “inferior” culture, coupled with intermarriages hasted the assimilation process. Their ladies would even prefer the rich men from the Maasai and the farming communities. Il Ngwesi is now home to a wide range of big and small game.

The Il Ngwesi Group Ranch is far from any towns and on the edge of Kenya's Laikipia Plateau. Here, land stretches endlessly to the horizon, you will not see a single light at night and the calls of the wild surround you.

The Il Ngwesi Group Ranch is not a ranch in the traditional sense of the word. Rather it is a huge tract of land owned by many Maasai villages. The villages have still kept their traditional ways, however, have scaled down their livestock, are actively protecting the game and have opened a small lodge. All profits brought in by tourists are divided among the local community and help to support nearly five hundred households and their schools, cattle dips, water supplies and other group ranch operations.

The awareness of the financial value of wildlife has resulted in the corresponding increase in wildlife numbers in the conservancy. Herds of up to 400 elephant have been seen and the calls of lion and leopard are often heard at night. A black rhino, Omni, has recently been relocated from Lewa, making it the first black rhino in Il N'gwesi in over twenty years. In addition to this, guests may also see impala, Grant's gazelle, buffalo, eland, gerenuk and Grevy's and Burchell's zebra on morning and evening game drives.

All that said a stay at Il N'gwesi is as much about learning about Maasai culture as it is enjoying the game and wilderness that this wonderful part of Kenya has to offer.

Price William in fact has chosen Il Ngwesi on occasion to get away from it all - and it's a really good choice, especially if you have an entourage, or for the less royal, a large group of friends or family. It's not a busy place, and with six rooms you could easily take over the whole place and lord it in privacy round its 60,000 hectares.

By just visiting Il Ngewsi you're helping to support a whole community, and its wildlife - Il Ngwesi is a community lodge, owned and run in theory by the local Maasai. In fact, the nearby Lewa Downs Conservancy still have a lot of involvement in it - providing practical support, handling their marketing and organizing their supplies. But the point is, for you as a guest, that you will only see Maasai while you're here, and they are in full charge of the spot, which in theory means you'll get a deeper experience of Africa. Rather telling was the bone collection here - in most lodges you see a few whitened old animal bones that have been picked up during game drives. Il Ngwesi's bone collection included a half eaten zebra leg that still had the skin and meat on it. Expect spit, but don't expect much polish.

 Why Visit Il Ngwesi Group Ranch, Laikipia Plateau, Kenya.

  • Visit and stay in community-led conservation initiative in northern Kenya.
  • Visit an off the beaten tourist path community driven ranch.
  • Experience the culture up-close of the local Laikipiak Maasai part of the Il Ngwesi community.
  • Enjoying the game and wilderness that this wonderful part of Kenya.
  • Discover why Price William choose Il N'gwesi when he get away from it all.
  • Help to support a whole community, and its wildlife by visiting and staying at Il N'gwesi Group Ranch.
  • Get a deeper experience of Africa, its people and rich cultural heritage at Il N'gwesi Group Ranch.