When Swalehe Kayera ventured into the campsite business in 2000 at Tungamelenga, on the fringes of Ruaha National Park, no bank could give him a loan as he had no collateral. He did not waste time trying to convince them that his business was worth investing in. He took a decisive action that many people have admired – he started the campsite using his own hands and those of his wife and relatives.
It was while working as a driver with a tour company based in Arusha that Kayera stumbled upon a good patch of land near Tungamelenga village. Having been paid a pittance for years as a driver for this company, Kayera's determination to build his own business in the tourism industry was sparked. After being denied the loans to start his business, Kayera requested some land from the Tungamelenga village authority who granted him 18 hecters. Mr Kayera says that had it not been for the grace of the village authority, who who generously granted him this land, none of his dreams could have materialised.
Over the next two years, leaving his wife and family in Arusha, he worked tirelessly to build the foundations for the camp, building several bandas to cover the permanent tents, along with the main building that houses the reception, restaurant and office. Towards the end of these years he had already begun to attract visitors and guests and his family could finally join him.
Now 12 years later, Kayera's camp site known as Chogela Campsite, 92km from Iringa town is making booming business with foreign tourists ranging from researchers, students, holiday makers and locals.
The camp is now continuing under the ownership and management of Kayera's son, Mbassa, the last member of the family to make is way home from Arusha and his wife, Stephany, a former Peace Corps Volunteer who now coordinates the Ruaha Cultural Tourism Program.
That's a bit about us. We look forward to getting to know you on your next visit!
From our family to yours, Karibu Sana! Welcome!