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  • Writer's pictureSarah Pyrce

Celebrating Women's Month: How Safari Camps Are Crushing Gender Norms In The Bush

Local women working for Asilia Africa as safari guides

From the beginning, the safari industry has been a male-dominated arena as women were expected to be at home raising families. Remote bush camps were thought to be no place for mothers and wives to be for months at a time. Asilia Africa has been on a mission to remove those gender norms, gradually changing the perception and double standards placed on women, and providing them with opportunities to prove the industry wrong. Across Asilia’s 18 lodges, women are making their mark as they fill positions as mechanics, safari guides, chefs, and camp managers. Here are a few examples: 

At Dunia Camp in Tanzania’s Serengeti, women have made history as the first all-female-run safari camp. Opened in 2016, the camp employs only women to become chefs, guides, managers, and housekeepers. Some are mothers and wives, some are young and single. They have all joined Dunia Camp trading their traditional lives and leaving their homes for months to work in the dangerous bush, to be independent and support their families. They are fearless, but with their determination and sisterhood bond, these Dunia Angels, as they call themselves, thrive and continue to inspire other women to join their profession in the bush. 

Some have even benefitted from Asilia’s Scholarship program which provides disadvantaged youth a one-year Hotel & Tourism Management course at SILA Vocational College. This is a starting point for bright youngsters from poor backgrounds to start their careers in tourism, and continue with Asilia offering internships for graduates and employing those they can. So far Asilia has sponsored 330+ students. In 2016, the first-ever winner of the Asilia Africa Scholarship Fund was announced, Lailatu Winnifred. From her humble beginnings, Lailatu began her career with Asilia in the hospitality team as a server, since then she has trained to be a chef and a professional guide and now works in Asilia’s airport VIP lounge.

Lailatu Winnifred, the first winner of the Asilia Africa Scholarship
Lailatu Winnifred, the first winner of the Asilia Africa Scholarship

One of Dunia’s guides, Grace, has aspired to become the first female walking guide in East Africa. Becoming a walking guide is a long journey or practice and special skills to lead guests on foot through the bush and offer them an exciting and educational walking safari. Having completed all her training, and guiding hours, Grace is set to be certified in March and make history.  

Meanwhile, at Asilia’s Naboisho Camp, in Kenya’s Greater Masai Mara, Evalyn Mayetu has become one of Kenya’s first female Silver Level rated safari guides. Evalyn attended the Wildlife Tourism College of Maasai Mara and has now been a guide for Asilia for almost ten years. From a young age, she had a thirst for knowledge, resulting in her running away from home at just nine years old because she wanted to attend school. Today, she is training to achieve Gold Level guiding certification with the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association and is an ambassador for girls’ education in Maasai communities.

Evalyn Mayetu, one of Kenya’s first female Silver Level rated safari guides
Evalyn Mayetu, one of Kenya’s first female Silver Level rated safari guides


The Maa Trust is one of Asilia’s most valued Positive Impact partners, as they work with community-owned conservancies in the Masai Mara in Kenya to support the protection of wildlife, Maasai culture, and ecosystems. Furthermore, in Maasai culture, there are few opportunities for women to earn an income. Their Beadwork Project blends the traditional skill of beading with modern exposure to international travelers — allowing these Massai women to make their own money from selling their beautiful beadwork. Beadwork has been an important cultural practice and source of income for the Maasai tribe for hundreds of years. This social enterprise empowers these exceptionally skilled women to market their glass beadwork directly to visitors. This initiative not only safeguards the interests of the Maasai tribe but also enables these talented women to earn their own income. Asilia guests have the chance to visit the Maa Beadswork studio and discover more about the vibrant artistry of the Maasai tribe.

Masaai women creating their beadwork
Masaai women creating their beadwork with the Maa Beadwork Project

Other Masaai women from the area group together to own a beehive. The Honey Project combines the conservation of African bees with the need for sustainable income generation. The Masaai women help with the harvesting and bottling of their golden nectar, which is then sold to camps and lodges across the Mara, including at Asilia. 

The Maa Trust employs 684 women in their beadwork and honey project. Asilia supports with financial backing with direct donations and ordering products for each of their camps, with 65% of their annual revenue coming from guests of the camps. Income generated is spent on products that improve family life such as rainwater tanks, solar systems, alternative cooking fuel, and school fees, improving the lives of Masai women and children in the Masai Mara. In 2023, Asilia was their top contributor donating $25,000 generated by the $5 per night that guests pay when they stay at any of Asilia’s safari camps.

Additional Resources: 

About Asilia Africa: Founded in 2004, Asilia Africa is one of East Africa’s long-standing safari operators employing nearly 1,000 people across 18 bespoke camps and lodges in Kenya and Tanzania. Meaning ‘genuine’ or ‘authentic’ in Swahili, Asilia has built a reputation for pairing incredible safari experiences with conservation efforts that empower both people and nature alike in the region. With lodges and camps in Africa’s most celebrated areas such as the Masai Mara, the Serengeti, and Ruaha National Park, Asilia uniquely offers an “All Asilia” safari circuit that is immersive, authentic, and engaging — from seeing a predator on the hunt to walking with the Maasai among the wildlife on the open plains. Their customized experiences include game drives, walking safaris, balloon safaris, and community visits that aim to deliver the most genuine and unforgettable encounters. The B-Corp certified safari operator with offices in Cape Town, Arusha, and Nairobi, makes pioneering investments into areas that are ecologically and economically vulnerable, aiming to turn these areas into viable economies, benefitting both the local communities as well as the environment.


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