At Olorte, in a remote and very beautiful forested area of the Loita hills, the Maasai share their habitat with some of the world’s most impressive wildlife. Ol Koroi Camp, in Olorte, is often the final destination for our walking safaris and expeditions.

Down here the community have set up a non-profit organisation and are being supported by a UK charity in their aims to reduce the burden of preventable disease, improve the effectiveness and sustainability of their use of the land and to deliver infrastructure projects that improve the quality of life in Olorte.

The importance of involving local communities in prioritising projects is well illustrated in Olorte, where the community have identified one of the most urgent projects to be the construction of a bridge across the Olkeju Arus river. It is unlikely that the casual visitor would have identified a need for this bridge since for most of the year the river is easily forded by people and their animals. However, when the rain comes twice a year, it is a different story and every year the river floods, cutting off many of the 6,000 Maasai in the Olorte area from medical care, food supplies, the local school and provisions. Each year the lives of children, the elderly and livestock are lost through drowning when they are forced to try and cross the swollen river.

This project presents a number of significant challenges as the plan is to largely use local unskilled labour, transferring valuable skills and providing employment opportunities. Being in a very remote location, 6,000 feet up in the Loita hills, with poor road access, the sizes and types of materials that can be delivered to site are necessarily restricted.

The bridge is expected to be a reinforced concrete and steel structure that will be strong enough to carry vehicles as well as pedestrians and livestock. It will need to be high enough above the river’s 3 metre flood height to avoid damage from debris carried by the torrent, such as large tree trunks. It will be 60 metres in length, comprising a 30m span over the river and a 30m causeway.

The initial cost estimate is £150,000, based on the current concept design, to cover all materials, equipment, transport and local labour. All time (including professional skills) from the UK is being given free of charge and the project is being led from the UK by a qualified engineer and experienced project manager from West London.

At the same time the charity "Walking with Maasai" has helped the community to develop an eco camp to cater for visitors and have set up a number of walking trails in the area. Willetts was the first safari company to bring clients here and we have are keen to continue to support the people in this pristine wilderness by continuing to bring people here and assist with the funding of other projects. These projects include the building of a new school, a medical clinic that also provides outreach services through its Landrover ambulance, the development of a beadwork business and environmental and agricultural education for the people of the area. A new volunteer campsite has also been developed so people wanting to spend some time providing voluntary help in the area have low-cost accommodation available to them.

A number of our more adventurous safaris stay in Olorte. In particular our walking and biking safaris both spend time in the area and visitors are always struck by the areas remoteness and its beauty.

We are supporting the projects here through the fees we pay into the community whenever we bring visitors and make use of their eco camp. We also direct a proportion of the monies raised in our charity walks to this area, passing these over to the charity for them to use as they see fit. A number of our clients have are continuing to support these projects through private donations