Since 1922, the Craig/Douglas family ran Lewa Downs as a cattle ranch encouraging the large number of resident wildlife to co-exist with the ranch cattle. In 1972, they began hosting visitors – the first private ranch in Kenya to do so. In 1990, David and Delia Craig retired and their son, Will and his wife, Emma, took over the running of the lodge. Lewa Wilderness is today still the family home of Will and Emma Craig where, with the help of Karamushu and his wife Fatuma and the wider team, they proudly continue to entertain guests and provide a truly unique and personal safari experience.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is what it is today because of a lady called Anna Merz, who became a dear friend of David and Delia Craig, having stayed as a guest at Lewa Wilderness. She approached them in the early 80s with a request: horrified by the population decline of rhino throughout Africa, Anna wanted to build a rhino sanctuary to protect the last remaining members of the species. At this point in time, demand for rhino horn had reduced Kenya’s 20,000 rhino to a few hundred in less than 15 years. This was the start of converting ranch land to wildlife and environmental protection.
The breeding program and conservation were extremely successful and began attracting tourists from around the world, anxious to see some of the last remaining rhinos in Kenya. Despite being a vast expanse of protected habitat, Lewa was surrounded by unprotected land and the only way conservation efforts in the area would sustain was if neighbouring communities could see tangible benefits resulting from the work.
Today, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site owned by a charitable organisation benefiting wildlife, environment and the participating communities. Lewa Wilderness, enjoys welcoming guests to explore this incredible landscape and share in our conservation promise. Often described as the best game viewing in all of East Africa, the Lewa environment is home to over 350 species of bird and 70 species of mammal – including the famed ‘Big Five’ as well as rare and endangered species not easily found elsewhere.
meet the team.
Karmushu is an elder from the Maasai community of Il Ngwesi, a neighbouring community landscape to the north of Lewa. He is the lodge manger and gracious host at Lewa Wilderness and with no doubt will make your stay memorable. He started at Lewa Wilderness over twenty years ago as a wildlife spotter. From there he became a walking guide, then a driver guid before being our head guide for many years. He has now been hosting at the lodge for over fifteen years.
His home is just outside the conservancy, so he has grown up knowing Lewa as a very special place. He developed a passion for wildlife as a young Maasai boy watching his family’s cows out in the bush, and the elders in his community trained him as a tracker. Karmushu enjoys sharing his knowledge of nature, bush skills and the traditional Maasai culture. He lives here at Wilderness with his lovely wife, Fatuma, and their four children, but he still goes home to his cows and his family in a nearby village.
Miranda came out to Kenya in 2016 to volunteer with horses on a nearby farm, after meeting the Craig’s and visiting Wilderness, she agreed to not get on her return flight home and take on managing the stables.
Growing up in the UK, Miranda was fortunate to be on a horse before she could walk and had a passion for eventing and later on playing polo. On her gap year she worked on farms in Australia with polo ponies and training young stock. After studying business at university, she never imagined ending up working in such a remote and beautiful place, surrounded by wildlife and horses.
Living and working out here has given Miranda incredible opportunities to explore Lewa Wildlife Conservancy on horseback, learn about the animals in their nature habitat and expand her veterinary knowledge and practical skills.
Miranda is now also involved in the marketing side of Lewa Wilderness, and runs our social media pages!
meet the guides.
Coming from Ngarendare neighbourhood village, Johnson has worked at Lewa Wilderness for 3 years, but in Lewa Conservancy for 14 years!
As our Head Guide, he also helps with hosting guests. Johnson is passionate about wildlife and loves ornithology. He is working on his Gold Level Guiding Certificate after acquiring his Silver, and is a senior board member of the neighbouring conservancy (Il’ngwesi).
Mungai has been with us for over 26 years. He is from the Mutunyi neighbourhood and is a man of many talents!
Mungai is our chief mechanic and electrician, tending to our beloved Landcruisers. And despite getting on in age, he has the eyes of an eagle, making him an excellent guide who misses nothing on the horizon.
Coming from Ntumburi neighbourhood, Mwangi has worked with Lewa Wilderness for over 20 years, starting as a waiter and working his way up with incredible drive and potential. He is passionate about wildlife and the environment, is a very polite man and really loves to share his encounters with wildlife to and from work.
Francis is the tallest Maasai in the camp and thus very easy to distinguish! He started as a waiter and later became a driver guide, which suites him so well. Francis loves sharing his Maasai traditions and life with all our guests and has spent over 10 years with us here at Lewa Wilderness, hailing from Chumvi village.
Supukia started as a camel guide, then a spotter and later became a driver guide. He has an amazing sense of humour (be sure to call him Mr T and to find out why we do)! Leaving no bush unturned, Supukia ensures all our guests experience incredible wildlife sightings. He has been with us for over 10 years and comes from Chumvi village.
Daniel is from Manyangalo village. While he has been with us for just 3 years, he has been working in Lewa and its surrounds for over 10 years! Daniel is a wildlife-oriented man, happily driving for hours and hours in our pristine wilderness to ensure that the guests have seen all that Lewa has to offer.
Rakita has worked in Lewa for over 20 years, starting as a camel guide and a spotter. He is now our main walking guide and one of the best trackers you’ll ever meet, with an experience of the bush that is truly one-of-a-kind. He can’t wait to show you his favorite places.
Emmanuel is from Mutunyi village. He started at the lodge working as groom, shortly becoming our head horse guide and a key member of our driver guide team. This man of many talents has a love of wildlife and tourism. A Silver level guide (and working on Gold), he’s been with us for almost 10 years, and is a fabulous horse guide.
Frank is from Leparua village and has been with us for over 5 years. He is a camel guide and a second walking tour guide. Frank`s passion to share his Maasai experience with the guests is incredible, and he is a great mentor to younger boys and men within his community. You will absolutely love his company – we do!
Mark has been with Lewa Wilderness for 6 years as a camel guide and a second walking guide. He loves to show guests around while they experience Lewa from the higher viewpoint on the back of a camel. It’s an experience that will make you hold your breathe for a second – especially climbing up and down.