Cottar’s and The Long Run

Our Webinar this week is incredibly inspirational. Whether you are a selling a safari, going on safari, operating a safari or working within the travel industry we all have a role to play in pushing forward sustainability within our trade. We need everyone selling or within the travel supply chain to be part of this conversation to bring about a transformative way of travel.


The Cottar’s family have aways believed that tourism, when practiced correctly, has a really positive impact on conservation and human development, and as such, the two have been completely intertwined from the start with steps taken to continually drive this forward. The Long Run has been one such initiative with an ethos that Cottar’s has followed through in every aspect of the company. The Long Run is a members organisation of nature based tourism businesses committed to driving sustainability. Its members and supporters share a vision of business, nature and people working harmoniously together for a sustainable future. Collectively the Long Run Conserves over 20 Million acres of ecosystems and improves the lives of over 750,000 people around the world. Below is a summary of the webinar – we hope you enjoy it.
Why Cottar’s joined The Long Run – Louise Cottar
Louise is not only the Co-owner of Cottar’s Safaris but she is also now a board member of The Long Run. In 2012 we were looking for an organisation to help articulate our vision. We spent a long time searching and the only player out there that does really did this was The Long Run. Cottar’s was the first Long Run Member to go from Member to Global Ecosphere Retreat. We spent two years looking at our strategy, how we wanted it to change and how we could make that happen. The Long Run helped us within their frame work with The 4Cs; Conservation, Community, Commerce and Culture to build sustainability into our business and to aim higher than we would have done alone and it is a continuing journey of improvement! The Long Run meetings allows us to have phenomenal peer to peer learning from people around the world from Switzerland, to Brazil to South Africa.
Cottar’s is quite unique as we are in a non sub-divided conservancy in the Maasai Mara. By sending a client to a property that has gained Global Ecosphere Retreat status you know that you are supporting land for bio diversity, supporting a community, the safari is having a positive impact and it is respectful of the culture and communities, which is so often lost within travel. The Long Run helped us to develop a 5 year strategy. Over time we are trying to expand wildlife corridors at the same time as looking after the local community. What is our culture? Yes, it is the Maasai land and the Maasai but in our mix of culture there is also the culture of the history of safari. We have done a lot to maintain our historical legacy from the last 100 years and to put it into trust for the future generations. We also looked at our financial sustainability and how secure we were financially and how we could survive, which has been really helpful especially during the pandemic. It also helps us further in outlining what we offer to the market place. The Long Run Members are different. They are strategically taking steps for sustainability in ways that are not only meaningful but have an impact globally. Guests seem to want more purposeful travel and it is important that suppliers weed out those camps and lodges that are illegitimate to those that can provide genuine experiences.
The Long Run – Delphine King
Delphine is the Director of The Long Run Organisation.  The Long Run was created 11 years ago and it was born from the need to think differently, both from a business, as well as a conservation perspective.  The objective of The Long Run was looking at how can we conserve landscape, biosphere with the understanding that business could have a bigger role to play in this and tourism was an obvious candidate.
The Long Run was born from Jochen Zeitz’s love of Africa and how we could preserve these landscapes, that we all love, but also support livelihoods of their people.  How can we have a more holistic approach to what we do?  Initially we started with nine like minded members from around the World.  We looked at the frame work of the 4Cs; Conservation, Community, Commerce and Culture and looked at best practice in these four areas.  These four aspects have to be in balance for us to have bio-diversity and prospering communities.
What is The Long Run about?  We are a global community.  We bring people together to learn and exchange from each other and to push the boundaries.  It is about trying to drive impact by collaboration.  A concrete way to help people embed sustainability, which is a complex concept.  As well as nurturing a clients’ journey they also promote a member’s impact to inspire others to take up best practice.  To show how the private sector can be considered a stake holder in conservation.
We are looking at growing and working on regional collaborations going forward. We have to look how we tackle the global challenges that we’re facing. We also recognise that perfection doesn’t exist and we are never there – it’s a never ending journey and how do we involve others into this journey? When we work with a destination – what is their 100 year plan? Pushing people to shift that mindset, which is important with sustainability.
The 4Cs is about thinking how can we minimise our footprint? How can we minimise the threat we represent to bio-diversity? To culture? How can we contribute to the landscape? Community – it is about being an active member of the community that we live in: It is also about creating a stimulating business: How do we support people in their cultural dimension? Commerce – it is about being a viable operation. Also what is the succession planning for preserving a landscape and encouraging members to think much more than a generation. We work with many destinations, travel partners and we have travel affiliates who are experts within their field to help our members.
Communications and The Long Run – Holly Tuppen
Holly is a freelance travel writer who has been specialising in sustainability for the last ten years. She also works as Communications Manager at The Long Run. Sustainable Tourism has exploded in the last three years and this year even more so. The pandemic has enabled us to reflect on what a better tourism industry should look like. Now is the time to not just shout about sustainability but it is really important to talk about it in a transparent way, that it is a journey and that there are problems. It is important that anyone who is selling travel or who is involved in the travel supply chain fully understands what having a positive impact via our travel experiences looks like. We need to dig a bit deeper and to see the holistic impact. As a travel writer I find the 4Cs a really useful framework and I come back to it time and time again. I think it is easy for us to forget the 4th C – Commerce and how important it is. If ultimately we are not financially sustainable then we can’t really talk about a better travel industry that has a positive impact.


Travellers are increasingly passionate about having a positive impact and a purpose. 76% of consumers are expected to be more concerned about sustainability after Covid. Yet, 42% of travel companies will postpone development of new sustainable products. This is the time to start leading in this messages and being a bit more of an activist. Bringing people on our journey? And trying to understand sustainability on a deeper level which is what The Long Run members are all about. Sustainability is not a stand alone pillar. There are two crisis which are intrinsically linked bio-diversity and climate change. We need to look for travel experiences that are regenerative and restore. We need you to think – as a travel company were do you sit within this journey?


The travel industry is afraid to talk about anything that is not warm and fluffy. We don’t need to patronise travellers as there are travellers out there that are interest. The Long Run is closing the loop on the supply chain, so everyone within the supply chain are part of this transformative way of travel.
The Long Run at Cottar’s – Douglas Ngai
The Maasai Mara is renowned for the big five, game drives and game walks. At Cottar’s we are trying to make a broader experience for our guests. We decided to come up with low impact, engaging, educational activities, such as the Maasai Warrior School, conservation talks, e-bikes, community visits etc. We want to portray the important conservation experiences around us such as the Vulture Rehabilitation and the pangolin research projects.
Guests also love to go on a bush walk with Letilet who is a Dorobo, which are a hunter gatherer tribe. Guests learn from Letilet about the medicinal importance of the endemic bush. We also encourage guests to take seed balls out on their game drives to help us replant trees. Some guest even spend an afternoon in our 4Cs Centre finding out more about how we implement these aspects at Cottar’s.
Since working with The Long Run the relationship has really strengthen between the wildlife and the local community. The Olderkesi Conservancy provides important ecosystem services to the local community. It has become the community’s role to look after the wildlife within the conservancy so that the tourists will visit, which will in turn directly benefit them. Before the pandemic we used to have local school children visit the 4Cs Centre and learn more about the conservancy and how it will impact their future.