Ishara is a long-awaited treasure. Located within Kenya’s wild Masai Mara Reserve, the resort offers an exhilaratingly unfenced experience, in thrilling proximity to the lions, hippos, giraffes, and other animals spotted on-site or within a short drive. Ishara’s superlative safari experience is framed in luxury, with a five-star culinary team, riverside suites and spa, a photo studio, an aeroponic tower farm, and a daring star bed. The MarketSmiths copywriting team has copywritten a wide range of materials, including website copy, a video script, blog posts, on-site collateral, social media captions, and a children’s book, infusing each with the resort’s incomparable spirit. We’re proud to have contributed to Ishara’s meteoric rise in the Masai Mara in a record six months.
"We needed a specialized copywriting team that could really bring our vision to life." MarketSmiths squarely met this challenge.
Ishara, which means “sign” in Swahili, is inspired by the signs in nature and life that one seeks from the universe. Unlike many old-school safari resorts that feature clichéd decor and foreign employees, Ishara is locally staffed and on land owned by the Maasai, with a mission to reinvent the safari experience in a youthful, contemporary way. Ishara provides guests an authentic glimpse of the wild, complete with Maasai guides, untouched vistas, and an ecologically minimalist footprint.
Yet Ishara loses nothing in the way of luxury. Unlike many high-end resorts, Ishara is located squarely within the Masai Mara. The lack of a “commute”—and the on-site river and strategically sited watering hole that draw animals by drove and herd—yields insanely private viewings, plus plenty of downtime for sumptuous meals, vintage baths overlooking the river, an infinity pool, gym workouts, and spa treatments. Also on-site: the Mara’s first official Canon Brand Experience Centre, featuring photography lessons and customized Land Cruisers for a ground-level introduction to the wildlife. Fresh seafood and ceviche, beef tartare and roast duck, and decadent pastries and desserts are among the daily offerings. Service is impeccable. A star bed invites the adventurous to sleep under the night sky, in earshot of feeding hippos, prowling leopards, and more.
Altaf Jiwa, Ishara’s Communications Director, knew it would take remarkable specialists to capture the extraordinary character of the resort. With Ishara’s founders, he chose a film and design team. They lacked just one thing: a team of copywriters that could bring narrative texture to the stunning imagery.
“The film required a different kind of expertise,” Altaf explains. “We realized that turning our website copy into a video script probably wouldn’t work.”
At that time (2021, mid-COVID), Ishara had built a brand development partnership with an agency in South Africa. But the film project, Altaf thought, required a copywriting solution that could deliver something poetic and sensory—true to the founders’ vision.
“We knew what we wanted to convey, and we knew the emotion of the place,” he says. “But I felt we needed more specialized copywriting that could really express that passion.”
After searching for video script writers on Google, Altaf stumbled upon MarketSmiths. Struck by the copy on our own website, he had the instinct that a successful partnership could blossom.
And it did.
“There’s always a lot of additional thought and work in the background you may not always see—that’s something I really appreciate.”
— Altaf Jiwa, Communications Director, Ishara
"We ended up changing the website quite a bit based on MarketSmiths’ advice and input."
In partnership with the award-winning video team plus MarketSmiths, Ishara created a deeply moving short film (aka video) that continues to resonate with viewers around the world. Then, MarketSmiths supported Ishara with a crucial website copy revamp—one that aligned with the film but took on a punchier, more spirited tone.
“We ended up changing the website copy quite a bit based on MarketSmiths’ advice and input,” Altaf explains. “We initially had lengthy copy. MarketSmiths helped us make it more concise and action-oriented.”
Led by these marketing assets, Ishara’s launch, in early March 2022, made waves. “We start off every travel agent presentation with the film,” he says. “Everyone is always moved by the storytelling. Many people who book with us say the film and website are the reason why they booked.”
"MarketSmiths set the tone for how we speak and communicate."
For an experience as unique and sensory as Ishara’s, a winning copywriting solution needed to harness strategy and emotion. MarketSmiths did just that—and helped cultivate Ishara’s brand voice along the way.
“MarketSmiths set the tone for how we speak and communicate,” he says. “Their work is among our strongest assets. They helped us with the poetic and inspirational parts of things by making our launch copy more descriptive and evocative. And that made a big difference in the way we’ve been perceived around the globe.”
During Ishara’s soft opening, a few members of the MarketSmiths team even traveled to Kenya to experience the resort firsthand.
“This is a very experiential brand; we needed to be emotive. Oftentimes, products can be technical and uninspiring, but Ishara is different. Actually coming down here really brought the copywriting to life—something that would’ve been much more difficult to accomplish remotely,” Altaf says.
Our thorough approach to research also proved Ishara was in the right hands.
“MarketSmiths would say, ‘This is how others speak; this is how we should speak.’ There’s always a lot of additional thought and work in the background you may not always see—that’s something I really appreciate,” he says.
As the brand evolves and grows, Altaf and the Ishara team continue to take a creative approach to marketing—and look to MarketSmiths for high-quality copywriting support. With the foundational assets in place, Ishara challenged MarketSmiths to conceptualize a children’s book that would be placed in every tent—a whimsical exploration of the animals and stories from the land, punctuated with conversations about the universe and the meaning of life. Ishara’s mission resonates throughout.
While reflecting upon our partnership, Altaf cites remarkable end results: full guest rosters, waiting lists, and year-in-advance bookings—during COVID, and a mere six months after Ishara’s official opening. On the B2B side, our work for Ishara has captured the attention of some of the world’s premier safari operators, one of whom named the camp a “must-see.”
“It’s been a tremendous and remarkable journey, starting as an unknown camp and now being talked about as one of the hottest properties in the Mara,” Altaf says proudly. “When we look at the end product, we know we made the right call with MarketSmiths.”
A delectable Ishara meal, crafted by world-class chefs.