Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the internationally recognised Kenyan conservation organisation and UNESCO World Heritage site will be the centerpiece to the first episode of the final season of Anthony Bourdain’s CNN Parts Unknown, when it premieres this Sunday, September 23.
Bourdain tragically passed away in June before completing the filming of season 12 of his Emmy Award-winning travel show. His journey to Kenya with W. Kamau Bell, the host of CNN’s United Shades of America, will be the last to feature his signature narration.
The trip was Kamau’s first trip to Africa and to a country that has a great personal significance to him. His name, Kamau, is of Kenyan origin, belonging uniquely to the Kikuyu tribe. After digging deep into his ancestry, he also discovered that he had East African ancestry.
At Lewa, Bourdain and Kamau experienced the Conservancy’s work first-hand in protecting endangered species, including the black rhino and Grevy’s zebra. They met with the Lewa team to discuss conservation best practices and went on an anti-poaching patrol with rangers.
“We were delighted to host Tony and Kamau on Lewa and welcome the opportunity to communicate with people from across the globe about the extraordinary place which is northern Kenya and the exciting conservation and development work which is taking place here, with communities at the helm.” says Mike Watson, CEO Lewa.
“The CNN Parts Unknown series gives an unusual and fascinating insight into peoples’ lives and we are privileged to feature as part of Bourdain and Kamau’s amazing travels.”
The duo and their team stayed at Lewa Wilderness, one of Lewa’s five lodges. The lodge is tucked into a hillside overlooking a valley, and has stunning views of wildlife and rolling plains. They enjoyed spectacular wildlife viewing, and got to see some of Africa’s most iconic species during their stay.
Lewa’s model is one that prioritizes human development alongside conservation, ensuring that local communities have access to healthcare, education and economic opportunities. Bourdain and Kamau also met with the community of Il Ngwesi that works closely with Lewa in its conservation and development efforts. They were hosted by Mzee Lela Kinyaga and Kip ole Polos.
“We talked about our culture, and they asked relevant questions about how it has changed in the last 20 years. We talked about human wildlife interactions, since our community has lived alongside wildlife for a very long time. We also talked about opportunities in the future. And they also got to enjoy some roast meat and joined us in a dance.” says Kip ole Polos, Il Ngwesi board chair.
Faith Riunga, Lewa’s Head of Education Programme, feels privileged to have met Bourdain and Kamau. “They were both highly engaging, and genuinely curious about the natural world, and the successes and challenges we have had at Lewa. We spoke at length about education and its role in shaping thoughts and minds, and in creating a world that allows for both nature and people to thrive.”
A special extended episode of Parts Unknown will be shown 9pm-10.15pm ET, September 23.