REFORESTATION & ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
Share your passion for environmental sustainability with the people of Limuru, a rural town in Kenya’s highlands. Visit primary and secondary schools to encourage environmental awareness among local youths and help conserve Brackenhurst’s indigenous forests. This project has been developed in partnership with the community-based organization, Friends of Brackenhurst Forest, that has been established to bridge the gap between ecological restoration and the local Limuru community.
Kenya is a beautiful and diverse country, with much for a visitor to experience. It is home to some of the world’s best safari locations and offers the most diverse and abundant game viewing opportunities, as well as being in the heart of the fascinating Maasai tribe community.
The project is based a Brackenhurst Hotel and Conference centre in Limuru, just 30 kilometers from Nairobi in the lush, green, tea-growing highlands. A key characteristic of Brackenhurst is an indigenous forest that covers over 90 acres of the 100-acre property. The forest was established in the year 2000 as a pioneer indigenous forest restoration project and has seen tree-mendous success! Twenty years later the forest now has over 650 species of trees and shrubs that are native, and some endemic, to Kenya. It also features a variety of small mammals such as the colobus monkey, sykes monkey, genet cat, bush baby, and tree hyrax. The forest is also a haven for bird watchers with over 170 species having been recorded in the forest including some favourites like the Hartlaub’s Turaco.
Your accommodation is based in the breath-taking surroundings of Brackenhurst. It is a lovely, green, secure and scenic place where you can enjoy recreational activities such as volleyball, tennis, walking trails through the forest, or just relaxing by the fire on a cold day at the café. You will be living in our volunteer cottage on the grounds of the property, offering the perfect space for relaxing and reflecting on your experiences in the evenings. It is roughly 1 hour from the Great Rift Valley and Nairobi, giving you easy access to explore nearby areas on the weekends.
Three meals are provided each weekday and the food is a mixture of International and Kenyan cuisine. Breakfast includes tea, coffee, cereals, toast, jam and peanut butter as well as eggs, sausages and pancakes served in rotation. Lunch is usually taken on project and a hot meal is cooked freshly in the evening. We can cater for most dietary requirements, but please let us know before your arrival. During the weekends, you are free to use the kitchen to prepare your own meals or eat at the restaurant and café within Brackenhurst Estate, where they serve up excellent wood-fired pizzas amongst other favourites!
WiFi is available at the Brackenhurst Estate and you are welcome to buy a local sim card if you wish.
The wet season begins in November and goes on until May, but there are a couple of dry months in January and February. Days are often overcast, with showers in the afternoon, and chilly mornings with temperatures that hover around 13°C (55°F). The dry season is from June to October. You'll enjoy warm weather during the day, although there may be a shower or two at times and cold weather at night. Limuru is colder than most people expect, with temperatures between 10–28 °C (50 - 82 °F) year-round.
PROJECT IMPACT AREAS
CONSERVATION OF INDIGENOUS FORESTS
As human populations in East Africa grow and more land is needed for food production, indigenous vegetation is often cleared without a clear legislature or incentive to protect it. It is often replaced with a monoculture of Eucalyptus, Wattle and Cypress timber plantations or food-based cash crops, leading to a steep decline in biodiversity and viable ecosystem services. The Brackenhurst Indigenous Forest is a fascinating example of how quickly that biodiversity and ecosystem services can be restored on a relatively small piece of land. This forest has contributed to a sharp, measurable increase in biodiversity and cleaner river water for downstream communities.
As a volunteer you will play a vital role in maintaining and conserving this forest, by uprooting invasive species (particularly Cestrum aurantiacum/Orange cestrum and Solanum mauritianum/Bug weed) that compete with indigenous plants for water and nutrients. You will also work alongside the botanical team collecting indigenous seeds and propagating them in the nursery. Rare trees in the forest are also being tagged with details such as scientific name, family and accession number, for both research purposes and visitor information. To encourage visitor-use, you’ll also be involved with developing and maintaining nature trails throughout the forest, particularly steep sections that need steps added.
You will have the opportunity to engage with local school children at nearby primary and secondary schools. Our aim is to increase environmental awareness and help students develop a better understanding and appreciation of the natural world, particularly forests. You will learn about different cultures and ways of living, while exposing students to forest restoration and general environmental education in an effort to develop attitudes of environmental consciousness amongst local youths.
Limuru and surrounds are predominantly tea producing areas, where most people rely on farming for their livelihoods. This project promotes sustainable practices and healthy living amongst residents by partnering with small-scale farmers to help establish and advance sustainable vegetables gardens that use rainwater harvesting systems. This enables farmers to obtain healthy and nutritious food for their families, while also providing an additional source of income.
Malnutrition is a common condition among children in East Africa and this project aims to increase awareness around the importance of adequate nutrition and healthy living. You will engage with various community groups within Limuru – women’s self-help groups (Chama), tea farm workers and youth groups – to provide workshops and group discussions on water purification strategies, nutrition, exercise, hygiene and more.
You will also join tree planting and litter clean-up initiatives within the communities to create clean green spaces for people to enjoy. Trees absorb airborne pollutants and particulate matter, and the planting of trees in urban areas is known to improve air quality, thereby reducing the community’s risk of being exposed to respiratory diseases. These initiatives promote both sustainable environments and healthy living.
Nairobi is a big, bustling, and exciting city you need to experience at least once during your time in Kenya A visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, a rescue center for orphaned elephants, is a favourite activity amongst volunteers. It is open for 1 hour a day where visitors can watch baby elephants get bottle-fed and take a mud bath. The Giraffe Center is also a must-do. Within Nairobi itself, there are all the other things you would expect from a major city – restaurants, bars and shops.
Kenya is arguably the best place in the world to see wildlife, so a trip here would not be complete without a visit to the world-renowned Maasai Mara Reserve. If you volunteer between July to October, you’ll get the chance to witness the Great Migration, where over 1.5 million wildebeest cross from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya. You will encounter other iconic wildlife, such as the ‘Big Five’ (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhino) throughout the year in the Maasai Mara Reserve. It is home to some of the highest densities of wildlife populations in the world and considered a safari trip of a lifetime.
Gatamaiyu Forest is an hour from Brackenhurst and it has a spectacular 3-hour hiking trail that takes you through wild tropical rainforests in search of waterfalls. It is part of the Great Rift Valley, one of the Geological Wonders of the World. The Great Rift Valley is home to remarkable landscapes that shift from volcanoes to great lakes. And across the valley nature reserves unfold where animals roam free. The best ways to explore the Great Rift Valley are on foot, horseback, or game drives.
Are you more of a beach bum than a safari-goer? Kenya’s coast is still a hidden treasure that is hiding some of the most beautiful beaches in Africa – Diani Beach, Mombasa Beach, and Watamu Beach. The beaches in Kenya are great for surfing, snorkeling, and other water sports. You can take a train journey from Nairobi to Mombasa if you want to explore the coast or add on an expedition that combines an overnight safari in the Maasai Mara and a railway trip to the coast for a beach getaway for the ultimate Kenya volunteer trip.
Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.