Miles for Elephants
A Life-Changing Adventure to Save Elephants
National Geographic Traveler selected Miles for Elephants as one of their ‘50 Tours of a Lifetime: 2013’s most authentic, most innovative, most immersive, best–guided, and most sustainable tours’.
We meet in Nairobi and drive northwest of Mount Kenya through increasingly wild country to reach our first camp by the Ewaso Nyiro River – watch out for elephants along the way! Next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we head off on foot into the wilds! For seven days we walk with a camel caravan across the vast savannah. Accompanying us are guides from the Samburu tribe, who lead us through their traditional lands, where livestock mingle peacefully with herds of giraffes, antelopes, the endangered Grevy’s zebra.
During the heat of the day we rest in the shade of acacia trees, and at night we gather around a campfire beneath the star–studded African sky. Along the way our guides share stories about their lives and culture, and teach us their songs and the traditional leaping dance! We stop in a village where Hidden Places has been supporting local women since 2010, including paying for the education of Elizabeth, who is now a teacher, and Agnes who in 2020 qualified as a barrister! With luck we will also encounter one of the scout teams we are helping to support, as they patrol the area we are walking through.
Each day of our trek, the Kirisia Hills grow bigger on the horizon, until finally we enter the shade of the mountain forest. This enchanted place is a sanctuary for elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards and other megafauna, and is rarely visited by outsiders. After one night at a base camp in the forest, we say goodbye to our camels and our Samburu guides, and begin our journey back towards Nairobi.
Stopping at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, we have lunch with members of Space for Giants who are doing vital work for elephants in Kenya and across Africa. We also meet the Rapid Response anti-poaching team and their highly trained tracking dogs. We arrive back in Nairobi by late afternoon.
This is a Hidden Places Signature Trip led by Maria Coffey, who with Dr. Dag Goering founded Hidden Places Travel and its conservation branch Elephant Earth. Dag is a large animal vet and photographer and Maria is the award-winning author of 12 books.
How Your Trek Will Save Elephants
We ask that by joining this trip you “go the extra mile” for elephants by launching your own fundraising and awareness campaign. 100% of donations go to our partner organization Space for Giants for their crucial work to protect elephants from poachers and mitigate elephant-human conflict.
Each participant is asked to raise a minimum of $500, with a target of $2500. Donations can be made directly through a fundraising page to Space for Giants.
Join us in fundraising and spreading the word about the threats to elephants: your help will make a huge difference and will never be forgotten by the local people you meet on this trek!
The Story of the Miles for Elephants Trek
In January 2012, Dag Goering and Maria Coffey trekked over 150 miles with camels to the Kirisia Hills and back. They were greeted by members of the Kirisia Community Forestry Association, who are working year round to protect the forest and to combat the epidemic of elephant poaching in the area. Inspired by their courage and dedication, on returning home Dag and Maria embarked on a whistle–stop fundraising and media tour through BC, raising over $8000 to cover the first year’s stipends for 12 key Kirisia anti–poaching scouts. They then decided to run 100 Miles for Elephants treks, and to date team members have raised over US $150,000.
Maria and Dag’s work has now expanded to help other anti-poaching initiatives across the region. Their partners Space for Giants are tackling the poaching and elephant-human conflict at all levels, from grass-roots to government level. Your participation in this transformational journey will help ensure continuing protection for elephants in the Laikipia/Samburu region.
Participants must be reasonably fit and – crucially – able to walk up between 10 and 15 miles per day. Training is essential, and we will give you guidelines on this. Much of the terrain is relatively flat, however the ground can be rough as we will off road, and occasionally we will be on steep trails. The altitude is about 4000 feet. The maximum daily air temperatures range from 30° C (85° F) at mid-day and 10° C (50° F) at night. However, as we are on the Equator the sun can feel very hot.
Day 1 — Nairobi – Laikipia
Leave the bustle of Nairobi behind as we drive to our first camp, near the Ewaso Nyiro River. From our tented camp with luck we spot elephants, giraffes, antelopes and maybe even elusive leopards or wild dogs.
Day 2 — Ewaso Ecosystem
After a hearty breakfast, we meet our team of Samburu guides and load up the camels. We set off on foot towards the Ewaso Nyiro River. Along the way we observe elephants and other wildlife drinking and wallowing in favourite watering holes .
Day 3, 4, 5, 6-7 — Leroghi Plateau and Ewaso Ecosystem
We spend glorious days following the river, crossing open plains and passing rock kopjes while keeping a look out for waterbuck, eland, gerenuk, grants gazelle, lesser kudu, giraffe, Grevys zebra, warthog, a diverse array of birds – and, of course, elephants! We also walk through community lands where local people graze their sheep and goats. We visit a village where Hidden Places has provided much support to local women. Get ready to dance with them!
By night, we gather around the campfire, marvelling at the star filled African sky and learning local songs from our Samburu guides.
Day 8 — Kirisia Hills
After days of seeing the Kirisa Hills grow on the horizon, we eventually walk into the shade of its forest, and arrive at our last base camp. We have a celebration here with our guides, and a competition to see if we can leap as high as them!
Day 9 — Laikipia-Nairobi
We say farewell to the camels and our guides, before setting off back to Nairobi. On the way we stop for lunch at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, to meet some of the Space for Giants team, the Rapid Response team and their highly trained dogs. We arrive back in Nairobi by late afternoon.
Please note: this itinerary serves as an example of trip highlights and is subject to change.
What does the Land Cost cover?
Includes transfer from Nairobi to Laikipia and back to Nairobi, all accommodation (based on double occupancy), all meals, guide fees, park fees, conservation fees, camping equipment, and camel support.
Does not include accommodation or meals in Nairobi, beverages (except drinking water, tea), airfares, insurance, gratuities.
What does the Land Cost not cover?
Does not include beverages (except drinking water), airfares, personal insurance, gratuities, transfer from Kirisia to Nairobi.
How do I fund raise?
The minimum donation we ask you to raise is $500, with a target of $2500. You can open a fundraising page on the Crowdrise platform and direct people to make their donations there.
Where will the the donations go to?
All donations will go directly to Space for Giants, for the vital cause of saving Kenya’s elephant population, by providing wages, equipment and training for scout teams and other anti-poaching efforts in Laikipia.
Who will be guiding the trip?
The trip will be led by Maria Coffey, co-founder of Hidden Places and our superb Samburu guides.
What about safety on this trip?
On the trek we will be accompanied by professional safari guides, who are highly skilled in the wild and who will always have our security as their highest priority, both when we are walking and camping. We will also be accompanied by a crew of camel herders, cooks and local guides from communities whose territories we cross.
Where does the trip start and end?
The trip starts and ends in Nairobi. Our meeting place will be announced well in advance of the trip.
How do I get to Nairobi?
Nairobi is one of Africa’s biggest hubs with many flight connections to Europe. You can get direct flights from London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt with major carriers.
Where can I stay in Nairobi?
We will give you hotel recommendations.
What are the physical activities on the trip and what level of fitness do I need?
We will be walking for up to fifteen miles a day, sometimes over rough ground, at an elevation of 4000 to 5000 feet. Temperatures can reach 30° C (86° F) at mid-day. You need a good level of fitness and it’s important that you train for the trek.
What is the food like?
Plentiful, nutritious and filling — perfect for long distance walkers!
I’m a vegetarian, is that a problem?
Not at all, but please let us know in advance, and advise us on what you can’t eat.
Do I need a visa?
Yes. You can apply for online for an e-visa ahead of the trip. Alternatively, you can get one on arrival at Nairobi airport, although this can involve a long wait.
Do I need any special insurance?
Medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, is mandatory on all our trips. We also strongly advise you to purchase trip cancellation insurance.
Do I need vaccinations?
Your routine vaccinations (Tetanus-Diphtheria, Poliomyelitis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella) should be up to date. In addition, for travel in Africa yellow fever and hepatitis A vaccinations are recommended. Please consult your doctor for advice.
What about malaria?
Malaria is endemic throughout East Africa, however we are there at relatively dry times when the risk is low. Despite this, it’s recommended to take prophylactic medication and avoid mosquito bites by using an insect repellent and a mosquito net at night (the tents have mosquito screens).
How can I access cash when I’m on the trip?
You will need to bring cash (Kenyan shillings or US $) and you also get extra shillings at ATMs in Nairobi Airport. Once we get to Laikipia we will be far away from banks. On the trek you will only need money to tip the guides (which can be in US dollars) and to buy some souvenirs and crafts from villagers and our camel team.
What clothes and equipment will I need?
When you sign up for the trip, we will provide you with a comprehensive clothes and equipment list.
I’m travelling alone, is that a problem?
Absolutely not. We have many guests who travel with us on their own. They appreciate the camaraderie of our Hidden Places groups, and usually go home with new-found friends.
+ Add On Excursions
Safari Extension: Rwanda Mountain Gorilla
See mountain gorillas in their natural habitat — the ultimate wildlife experience! A short flight from Nairobi takes us to Rwanda, the ‘Switzerland of Africa’, and its peaceful capital, Kigali. After settling into our five-star hotel we have a city tour, learning about Rwanda’s miraculous recovery from its recent history. Next day, we drive through the storybook scenery of this ‘land of a thousand hills’ en route to glittering Lake Kivu, our base for the next two nights. From our lakeside hotel, a very early start takes us to Volcanoes National Park, where Diane Fossey did her groundbreaking research on mountain gorillas, and helped bring them back from the brink of extinction. We trek through magical rainforest for astoundingly close encounters with a family group of these extraordinary animals – some of the last remaining 780 individuals in the world. The following morning we can choose between another gorilla trek (optional add-on) or a land and boat tour on the shores of Lake Kivu. In the afternoon we return to Kigali to celebrate our once-in-a-lifetime experience over a fabulous dinner!
From US $6,450 (depending on group size)
Scheduled: Feb 1 - 9, 2021
Private: Year round
8 nights camping
Thank you so much for this wonderful trip.. Kenya is beautiful and the Kenyans are so warm and helpful and generous. Who ever wants to go home again?
You can feel the heartbeat of Africa in your footsteps.
Thank you for an experience we would never have had without you! It was a whirlwind of happy surprises and magical moments. The memories made with our trekking group and Samburu family will be forever imprinted on our hearts.
Many, many thanks for such a beautiful experience. It was truly the adventure of a lifetime and a memory to be cherished.
A most wonderful adventure – peaceful, exciting, spiritual, calming, exhilarating! Amazing food, spectacular campsites, incredible views, and the best guides ever. I believe this walk will change everyone at a profound level. 11 stars out of 10.
The trip far exceeded my expectations. The countryside, the villages, our Samburu guides, the exquisite campsites, the camaraderie: A wonderful experience.
A whole new perspective on Africa. Textures, colors, earth under our feet, rolling by. The wisdom and humor of our Samburu guides. An experience of a lifetime – thank you.
We are the most fortunate people in the world to have participated in this trek. It exceeded our expectations, and then some. Many thanks for showing us the remote and beautiful African landscape and introducing us to its extraordinary people.
Thanks for such a wonderfully organized adventure, it was second to none. This is an experience I will remember and moments I will treasure for the rest of my life.
The support team were wonderful and Gabriel is an excellent guide, teacher and generally wonderful human being. The food surpassed all expectations, the accommodation was comfortable – and I am surprised by my affection for camels!
I will remember friendly, gracious people, red earth, armed trees and delicate plants and flowers in the light of the equatorial sun. The walking was always interesting and the food and many luxuries of camping were truly amazing.
This trek was a life changing experience. I enjoyed every moment. The wildlife is breathtaking. Thank you so much!
A challenging, rewarding and fun adventure. The care and consideration of our guides and camp staff was awesome. Interacting with local people, walking with a common purpose, and sharing so much laughter as well as tears were the highlights.
Thank you so much for the adventure, it has been an awesome experience. You and your team are doing a great job at protecting and supporting elephants.
Thank you so much for organizing this fantastic trip and for all you’re doing to help elephants. It has truly been life-changing, with memories I’ll keep forever.
A "trip of a lifetime" in every way. The walk was well organized and couldn't have been better. The trip leader Jean was thoroughly professional, knowledgeable and engaging. I always felt safe - even when the lions roared outside our tents and hippo walked across our path!
"This trip literally changed my life. It was an emotional experience which left me at peace and full of gratitude."