The Kiwayu Story and the Pelizzoli Family
Kiwayu Safari Village is a family run lodge and essentially has been for 35 years. It all started in 1973 when Alfredo Pelizzoli and some friends made their way by Land Rover to the coast for a swim after a long, hot bush safari. Over the dunes, through the star palms and along empty beaches, they arrived at this surprising desert oasis, A cluster of date palms, ancient sweet water wells, and ruined mosques set the stage for this unique camp.
The Evolution of Kiwayu
Alfredo was an adventurer, an artist, a hunter, an intellectual, a foody, a flirt, and often a loner. He wasted no time in setting up tents and the dining table. It mattered little where his camps were, it went without saying there was to be ice in the Gin and Tonic, and a meal prepared to feed the sole and the ravenous hunger of a hunter.
Alfredo married his English rose, Lisa, in 1959. Quite aside from her beauty, it was her ability to roll out fresh pasta ravioli in the bush and hold her own in Italian that really stole Alfredo’s heart. Even in those days, when elephant frequented the beaches, spaghetti alle vongole, grilled lobster and giant green crab mayonnaise, were on the menu. The era of big game hunting was drawing to a close in Kenya and gradually, the indomitable team of Lisa and Alfredo Pelizzoli, accustomed to organising unprecedented safaris to all corners of Africa, began the creation of Kiwayu Safari Village.
Kiwayu is named after the Island sheltering the bay. It started as a tented camp for 6, it grew from canvas into spacious palm woven bandas, from simply comfortable to completely luxurious as each year passed and it continues to evolve with every new piece of driftwood or curiosity that is washed up onto its beaches.
Lisa Pelizzoli was born in Kenya in 1935, returning to England with her family soon after war broke out. She studied languages at university after which she travelled back to Kenya to see what doors this notorious country would open., Her command of Italian and her natty typing skills earned her a job with Alitalia in down town Nairobi, then a charming town of barely 1,000,000 Alfredo, a Venetian by birth, left a war torn Italy to travel the world. Seeking adventure he travelled from Sweden to Thailand, from North America to South Africa. Realising his insatiable dream to traverse Africa, by any means possible, he eventually scraped together enough money to buy a jeep that might be up to the job. He drove this through the Middle East and down through an Italian Somalia, on reaching Kenya and the high plains of Athi, where game teamed by the thousands, he proclaimed to his friends back home that he had found paradise on earth and urged friends and family to join him. This was in 1952. It did not take long for Lisa and Alfredo to meet.
Alfredo’s curiosity and ability to diversify brought him up close to a number of professions, some sturdier than others. Always ready for debate, and up on current affairs, he set up the first weekly colour magazine in East Africa, African Life, which he later sold to the Aga Khan for a few shillings more than his gold mine, which he couldn’t get rid of for more than one, nor did his short lived career of beauty pageant organizer survive time.
The one overriding talent and passion he developed was that for big game hunting. Together, Lisa and Alfredo created a hugely successful safari company, drawing aristocrats and internationally wealthy industrialists to hunting and photographic safaris all over East and Central Africa ; from the Sudan, the Congo, Upper Volta, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Ethiopia, Nepal, and Alaska through to Kenya. Between Lisa’s talent for coordinating these formidable safaris, and Alfredo’s skill in finding and securing his clients notoriously difficult and very often record breaking trophies and photographs, they became one of the best safari teams in Kenya.
Alfredo has now moved on to finer hunting grounds, and Kiwayu remains in the family. Lisa and their three daughters, Francesca, Simone and Camilla, all trained in the arts, contribute to the success and survival of this beautiful and unique place. With great courage, George Moorhead joined the Pelizzoli family as Simone’s partner and husband, not without the mandatory share of adventures and languages.