Another Journeys by Design favourite, Tassia is the sister lodge to Il Ngwesi, and is based in northern Kenya, in the Laikipia, on the Lekurukki Community Conservation Group Ranch. Tassia was rated by TIME magazine as one of the best 24 best kept secrets in the world.
Tassia sits along a finger of rock that protrudes from the base of the Laikipia plateau. Consisting of main shared area – dining, seating, bar and natural rock swimming pool – and 6 sleeping rooms, Tassia is a community owned and run lodge, and its roof designs are directly inspired by Masaai architecture found in northern Kenya. The rooms are built mostly out of rock, and the roofs are rather unusually made from compacted earth and cement. In keeping with the spirit of the place, the room next to the dinning room is designed specifically with children in mind, and resembles a termites mound.
The rooms all have en-suite bathrooms and open to views off to the Northern Frontier district. 5 are double, and 1 is a twin. The beds are very comfortable, the furnishings well chosen, and the decor is African, Masaai, and follows the natural contours of the rock from which the rooms are built.
This is wild country. It is unlikely that guests will see another visitor for the duration of their stay. Activities at Tassia include night game-drives, helicopter excursions, paragliding, forest walks, bird viewing, bush walks and trips to Il Ngwesi village.
Martin Wheeler and Antonia Hall are in partnership with the Maasai community of the Lekurrunki Group Ranch (Tassia Lodge). They pay a minimum amount into the community, which increases each year. On top of this the community then receives a percentage of the guest bed night fee and the conservation fee.
60% goes to the Maasai community to help with bursaries, employment and infrastructure. 40% goes to the Trust account, which is used in the conservation of the area.
Everyone employed in the lodge comes from the Maasai community and every family in the community is represented through employment in the lodge.
1. Waste not Want not (WnWn) is a micro finance project.
The twin philosophies behind WnWn are firstly to utilise the traditional beading and jewellry skills of the women; there by creating a sustainable source of income for them.
Secondly sourcing as much of their raw materials in their products through recycled items such as trinkets and broken jewellry, donated by supporters of the project.
Discarded bottles are beaded into water and wine decanters, coasters and place mats are beaded in muted colours to suit any interior. Fallen olive branches are carved and beaded for bottle openers.
2. SCHOOL PROJECT: In the 3 year partnership so far Martin and Antonia, through kind donations from guests, have built three pre primary (nursery) schools.
3. ANTI-SOIL EROSION PROJECT: this improves the quality of the environment, allowing grass seeds to be caught and grow in over grazed land. It offers employment and education about land management.
4. TREE PROTECTION PROJECT: The main big Acacia trees in front of the lodge have been wrapped with wire, to protect them from elephant ring barking and killing the trees.
5.BIRD OF PREY PROJECT: Martin is a falconer. He has set up a bird sanctuary, taking in injured birds of prey. He nurses them back to health, training and hunts them until they are fit and healthy enough to be released back into the wild. This project provides work for the community in building the enclosure as well as ongoing education about the importance of bird of prey conservation and work for members of staff.
6. BUY A BRICK: Buy a brick is a concept that Martin and Antonia have developed that enables guests and friends of Tassia to get directly involved with the development of infrastructure.
The bricks are used to build water tanks, water troughs for the community and their livestock. As well security buildings,outposts and schools.
The soil that is used to make the bricks comes from expanding natural wallows, which means that the project has a beneficial knock on effect on the environment, people and wildlife.
7. HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT: METAL BOMAS:
Martin has initiated a rotational grazing programme so that the livestock and wildlife can coexist and benefit the rangeland.
TASSIA LODGE is:
*100% solar power
*No trees were cut down in the construction of the buildings, it continues to be our ethos.
* For heating hot water for showers, trees and branches pushed down by elephant are collected for wood burners.
* The loos are a half flush.
* All our flat roofs are designed to collect rain water in tanks.
* All glass bottles from are recycled by being crushed up and used in the foundations of buildings such a security head quarters and schools that Martin builds.
*There is no food wastage, any leftovers that can’t be used are given to our chickens, resident Kudu and porqupine, or made into compost.
* The grey water from the rooms and the kitchen is collected and put through a sand filter for growing fruit and Veg and supplying water hole for wildlife.