How to Visit the Umoja Women’s Village in Kenya

Visiting the Umoja Women's Village in Kenya - Everything You Need to Know

One of the highlights of my first trip to Africa in 2009 was a visit to the Umoja Women’s Village in Kenya. and I visited again recently in 2022.

A small village on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, next to the Samburu National Reserve, around 380km from Nairobi.

The village is inhabited by members of the Samburu tribe, who are closely related to the Masaai. What’s unusual about this particular village, is that it is only made up of women and their children.

I heard the women coming before I could see them. They were clapping and singing, their wonderful African voices working in perfect harmony. Growing louder as they approached, I was mesmerised by their colourful robes, beaded necklaces, and headwear.

Umoja Women's Village Kenya

The women performed a number of songs and dances for us to see, thrusting their chest and shoulders forwards, which caused their necklaces to jump up and down as if they had a life of their own.

They sang a song called ‘My Cow is Better Than Your Cow’ and a more serious song called ‘The Vagina Song’ where the women celebrated their bodies and their freedom.

The singing and dancing are very fun to watch, but beneath the surface, there are serious connotations. The Samburu women have endured a lot through the years – rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced early marriages (in some cases to MUCH older men), and domestic violence.

The village was started by a Samburu woman called Rebecca Lolosoli in the early 1990s as a safe haven for 15 women who were raped by British soldiers and then became outcasts in their community – rejected and beaten by their husbands for bringing shame on them and their families.

Samburu Umoja Village

The village is now a safe haven for women and girls to escape the tribe’s outdated practices. Rebecca had the idea for the village whilst in hospital, after being beaten for speaking to the women in her village about their human rights.

In the Samburu culture, men are in charge. They can have multiple wives. They ‘own’ the children. If they want to kill their wives, they are free to do so. It’s obviously against the law in Kenya, but culturally it’s not forbidden and still happens.

 Girls are traded off for cows and married young. One lady in the village was married at 11 years old, to a man of 57. When we visited there was a 13-year-old girl in the village who had run away from her husband whilst shepherding the sheep. Thankfully, she managed to find the village.

The word Umoja actually means ‘unity’ in Swahili and the women work as a cooperative, selling jewellery and offering tours of the village to tourists to make money. There’s also a campsite next to the village (where I stayed the first time I visited).

Samburu Woman at Umoja Village
Samburu woman at Umoja Village

The women also educate women and girls from nearby villages on the issues they are facing and their rights. They have since inspired other women to do the same and more women’s villages have appeared in the area. At Umoja, the women are free.

They still don’t have it easy though. On my latest visit in 2022, Rebecca told me that the men will often attack the village and come looking for their wives and children. It’s a constant battle.

If you’d like to learn more, the best way to support the village is by visiting or donating money directly.

Please Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Affiliate sales help with the running costs of this site, so thank you for your support!

How to Visit the Umoja Women’s Village in Kenya

Umoja Women's Village Samburu Kenya

Is Umoja Village worth visiting?

Yes, 100%. It’s a very interesting experience and a must-do when visiting the Samburu region of Kenya. You can visit their website here.

How Do You Get to Umoja Village?

The village is located in Archer’s Post, which is around a 5 – 6 hour drive from Nairobi and is pretty easy to get to from the main road. The village is only a 10-minute walk away from the main part of town.

The easiest way to get to Umoja is either on a tour, with a driver, or with your own transport. The first time I went was during an oveland tour. The second time, we hired a car from Avis in Nairobi and drove north, first to Samburu National Reserve and we then went to Ol Pejeta Conservancy on the way back.

You can also take local transport from Nairobi up to Archers Post and for those who want to fly, there is an airstrip, serviced by Safarilink from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport. All lodges/hotels can organise a pick-up.

Women's Village in Kenya
Rebecca Lolosoli Umoja

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Umoja Village?

It costs 1,000 KES per person to visit.

But I would also consider buying something from their shop. The women weren’t pushy like they are in some other villages I’ve visited.

There are also some additional activities you can book too (see below).

Do You Need to Book Umoja Village?

You can just show up at the village, or you can send Rebecca a Whatsapp and let her know you’re coming. The number is +254 721 659 717 (this is Rebecca’s number and the one on the website).

However, if you are planning to camp or stay in one of the cottages at Umoja Village (see optiona below), I would suggest that you book ahead.

Samburu Simba Lodge Pool

Where to Stay When Visiting Umoja Village

You can easily combine your visit to the Umoja Village with a safari in Samburu National Reserve or Buffalo Springs National Reserve.

The first time I went, we stayed in the village at the Umoja Campsite. They have basic campsites, bandas (round, self-contained cottages), and a bar and can provide meals.

The second time we stayed at Samburu Simba Lodge in Buffalo Springs National Reserve (which was about a 25-minute drive away). This is a nice, mid-range lodge with a pool and nice views over the park. Having a pool is a big bonus, as it’s very hot up there!

Other options include:

  • Luxury: If you’re after luxury, Elephant Bedroom Camp is THE place to stay in Samburu National Park. Double/twin rooms start at about $1,700 per night.
  • Mid-range: Lion’s Cave Camp is a good mid-range option, set outside the park, so you only have to pay the park fees on the days you go into the park. This will save you a bit of money. You could also try Samburu Riverside Camp which is inside the park.
  • Budget: There are a number of public campsites in Samburu National Park. These don’t usually require booking, but just note that as they are inside the park, you will have to also pay park fees, which you don’t at Umoja. But then you are in the park, surrounded by wildlife.

You can find more options here.

Umoja Village - Kenya

Things To Do at Umoja Village

As well as doing the regular village tour, the women can organise a bonfire and cultural dance. And if you have more time you can volunteer in the village.

Nearby, you can take safaris into Samburu National Reserve or Buffalo Springs National Reserve.

For more activities in the area, please read my post on Samburu National Reserve.

I hope you get to go to Umoja Village! Please let me know if you end up visiting!

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How to Visit the Umoja Village in Kenya
Visiting the Umoja Women's Village in Kenya - Everything You Need to Know

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  1. My wife and I have yet to visit Africa together and she is from Ethiopia. These women are amazing and I really like the photo of the two talking together and seemingly in deep thought. What happens with all of the men though from the tribe?

    1. Hey Thomas,

      Thanks for your comment! These women are amazing! I always wonder what they are chatting about. Looks serious, but it could have been about anything!

      What I should have explained, is that all these women are not from the same village originally. So they are all from the Samburu Tribe, but different villages and women from that tribe come here as a kind of ‘refuge’ I guess, although I wouldn’t call it that! Hope that makes sense!

      1. Oh okay thanks for clarifying. Are there any little boys I would think some of them had kids? If so do they make them leave after a certain age?

        1. There were a few little boys actually. I visited the pre school there. I doubt they’d make them leave, I suppose they bring them up to think of women in a different way than perhaps historically men of the tribe did before. I’ll see if I can find out!

  2. Hi Thomas,

    I checked and they don’t make them leave as long as the sons are respectful to the women of the village. In fact some of the boys who have grown older have protected the women from other men. I assume some of the sons born there will go on to marry women from that village too – except they’ve been brought up with a totally different mindset to the one the men of the tribe traditionally have.

  3. I love it that the women managed to empower themselves after having gone through so much. It is so important for women like that to have a safe haven. What a great project!

    1. Hi Tammy!

      Thanks for stopping by! These women are just incredible and brave. Rebecca is an inspiration, she’s the Samburu lady who started it all! 🙂


  4. Hi Helen
    Just found your blog and enjoying African travel posts. Please check out the #Afritravel hashtag on twitter and feel free to use it to share your African travel related content.

    1. Hey Meruschka,

      I saw the hashtag yesterday! I will definitely be using it!

      Look forward to speaking with you some more!


  5. Last week I visited with Rebecca and the ladies of Umoja. They are a fabulous group of women. Unfortunately, they are still being harassed by the men who are currently encroaching on Rebecca’s land by pulling out the post marking boundaries, and building upon their land… essentially stealing it. The greatest need for these women right now is to build a secure fence. Please help them raise the funds to build and secure their future.

      1. Hello Helen,
        I am very interested in helping in any way possible. I would like to plan a trip there to speak with Rebecca. What would you suggest is the best way to contact her? Thanks for any help.

  6. The ladies look just gorgeous! And how amazing their accessories are! And thanks a lot for the price breakdown! Adding them to my travel planner and hope I can finally make it to Africa next year!

    1. They’re beautiful aren’t they? They make all the beaded stuff themselves, and you can buy much of it there! Definitely go if you get the chance! It’s a great experience!

  7. It has been a while since this post was originally made. Have the women been able to erect a good boundary? Do they still need financial support for their safety?

  8. It’s also important to note that Umoja Women’s Village is a community of survivors of sexual violence and it’s very important to be mindful and respectful of their privacy, space and stories.

  9. Hi Helen,

    Thank you very much for this blog ! Really interesting !

    I noticed you mentioned that you hired car. This was our preferred option for our coming trip since we like the freedom it offers but got several feedbacks from people advising to avoid (because of the roads, poor shape of cars, etc.)

    What do you think ?

    Thanks a lot !


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