Lale’s Camp

Our first impact investment and our way to help demonstrate how tourism can support vulnerable communities

Lale’s Camp offers a sustainable way to visit the Omo Valley, taking people away from the negative tourism practices that have been rife in the area. Wild Philanthropy has helped develop the camp, supporting the local Kara community in doing so. Tourism can be a powerful tool for community development, but only when done right, with community ownership integral to the success.

Through its impact investment partner Tekula Capital, Wild Philanthropy has invested in supporting the development of Lale’s Camp as a flagship product of Wild Expeditions Ethiopia. As well as financial support, we continue to provide technical support in areas such as business planning, marketing and sales and other tourism-specific areas. We also use our partner company, Journeys by Design, to help attract travellers to a destination they would otherwise not have the opportunity to visit – at least not in a way that seeks to benefit the host community and wider sustainable development projects.

A genuine frontier experience, Lale’s Camp is an entirely canvas affair, and consists of a mess tent and sleeping tents. Imported from South Africa, the tents are comfortable but basic, with sturdy canvas walls and floors, the latter reinforced by thick camping mats. Each tent contains double or twin beds, a veranda and en-suite facilities that include hot water and a flush-toilet.

Investment into new tents and refurbishment has been ongoing and has seen the camp develop into a stylish and comfortable place to explore the Omo Valley. Lale Biwa, who runs the camp, is also a shareholder in Wild Expeditions Ethiopia, so has an interest in developing the business as Ethiopia’s premier sustainable tour operator. A support programme has been implemented, bringing in expertise from across Wild Philanthropy, Tekula Capital and Journeys by Design to support the local management team in developing the business.

As well as inviting an experienced camp-management couple to spend a few months supporting Lale and his team in developing the way the camp has been run, we have arranged for exchanges whereby Wild Expeditions Ethiopia staff have travelled to Kenya to see how a camp is run there. Relatively new to the business of community-owned and run tourist destinations, the exchange has really helped the local team develop the business and improve standards.