August 2019 - November 2019
The Saga continues
The waiting game
Now back in London we are anxiously waiting the report from the Surveyor to find out if the land actually belonged to Rafiki and if it was available.
Unveiling our idea
Sharing our idea to a select few
We started telling a few people about our idea and 99% of people had the same reaction of wow and that sounds interesting. I don't think most people think we are serious at the time.
The few people we told about the project, then started asking us all kinds of questions, answers to which we didn't know yet. We started to doubt ourselves, have we bitten of more than we can chew? Is this a good idea? How are we going to fund this? What the hell were we thinking? These questions are true till this day. We decided we need to be able to answer these questions and more if we were going to succeed and prove to everyone we are are not completely crazy.
The waiting game
The next few weeks were very tiresome
We sent several emails to our lawyer for an update, but received no response. We finally got a reply from our lawyer. So many questions were running through our head, is this the news we wanted? We opened the email and to our disappointment, it was just an email to inform us that they are struggling to find some of the details, but this is normal and they will come back to us in a week.
In the meantime, we started researching everything we can on our own, we contacted various tent manufactures, and started booking tickets to visit tent exhibitions. We were very hopeful this was real and just wanted to make sure we had enough groundwork to get started faster.
The moment we have been waiting for
The long awaited email arrives from the lawyers
The first line read "unfortunately", we thought damn, this dream is already over before it even began. We carry on reading, the email is a mixed bag, but definitely positive news. But as with everything that has happened in this project, nothing is ever simple.
We found out that Rafiki does own the land we had chosen and has quite a big plot. We had discussed that we only wanted 1 to 2 acres, the problem was that some of the land he had shown us belonged to him but it was part of an area that he had deemed as a conservancy. Mixed feelings, we were hopeful that this project could still possibly happen, we just need to speak to Rafiki to see if he is happy for us to choose another plot instead. Thankfully, Rafiki agreed on us choosing another plot of land when we are next back in Maasai Mara.
Just when we thought we had it!
After countless emails back and forthwith the surveyor company, we incurred another problem, the part of the plot of land we had chosen was registered as agricultural and not commercial, which means we were unable to build anything on it. We hit our first big hurdle and it certainly wasn't the last. Once the lawyer and surveyor had both confirmed in multiple ways that Rafiki does indeed own the land we started to think about our next steps.
Our mind was in a mess, no idea what to do next, any advice we received contradicted something else or caused another issue and it was also a bigger challenge trying build a business from another country. We finally came to the conclusion on how do we get the land changed from agricultural to commercial.
The language barrier between us and Rafiki did not help the situation, nor did his mobile connection! After several calls back and forth, Rafiki advised us that he will speak to his lawyer to seek advice and to negotiate rent terms on our lease agreement. We agreed that once we are back in Kenya in the following months, we can re-confirm the terms of the lease, choose another plot of land.
The next steps
This was really happening; it was all moving so quickly.
We completed our due diligence for now but before we move further, we need to know if our project was going to be feasible. The next plan of action was to work how much this dream was going to cost and if it is worth pursuing.
We started putting a business plan together, plugging in numbers - we now had a clearer idea on the vision, we knew what we wanted to build, we knew how we wanted it to look. It was time to start reaching out to some architects. We emailed several companies, we had telephone meetings with several and decided on a company we liked.
We went back and forth with Firm X, we were learning a lot, we came up with a strategy with them. In order for anyone to get our vision, they needed to see it. We arranged for their architect and civil engineer to join us at the location when we get back to Kenya and to complete a Bill Of Quantities (BOQ). This would give us a good indication of costs. They also helped us with the change of land.
Building a concept
Trying to be unique
We knew we wanted to be different and we knew that we wanted to build something that was better than our competitors and other camps. We started putting together mood boards, googling camps all over the world and decided that we would go with the tried and tested tent as we assumed this would be more cost effective. We wanted to offer more luxury for the lower end of the market. Over the next couple of weeks we learnt Sketchup. We created our own designs. We wanted to be prepared for the trip ahead. You can see our original designs in the gallery below. We are quite proud it turned out the way it did for amateurs!
Getting ready for the second trip
We decided to book our flights for the end of November.
We had a month and still had a lot more to do, this was a little difficult as were both still working full time and juggling between our work and our Kitumo project.
During this period, we were still continuing to hear excuses from Scar about our refund. Now, it became more about principal, he had no right to use our money for his own purposes. We knew this money was never coming, so we had written it off but we were not going to give up.
We were only thankful to him for introducing us to Rafiki, without him, our dream would have never started. This has to be the craziest and scariest thing we have ever done, but right now it felt like a good idea. We have a design in our heads and kind of know what we want to achieve. We were just as excited as the first time we were planning our "trip of a lifetime".
Two weeks to go before we fly and we go into overdrive. Booking meetings with anybody we think will be useful, trying to figure out what needs to be done, the important things.
Are we doing this?
It’s been a crazy 3 months since we got back from holiday/business trip/ craziest set of events that have ever taken off in our lives. Life has completely changed, no more going out everyday after work for a few pints, more like come home and send a 100 emails and start researching a 100 different things.
So the answer to this blog is yes we are WE ARE DOING THIS...!!