Wills in the wilderness - with Kate AND Jecca Written by Rebecca English, Daily Mail Tuesday, 19 July 2005
With its stunning views of Kenya's last untamed wilderness, it isn't hard to imagine why Prince William chose an isolated hideaway for a romantic interlude with his girlfriend Kate Middleton.
More surprising, however, is the fact that the lovestruck couple shared their idyllic break with the 23-year-old prince's former girlfriend, Jecca Craig.
As the sun went down over the plains on Sunday night the trio - joined by other friends - sat on a veranda at their authentic Masai lodge, sipping "sundowners" and admiring the heartstopping views.
Jecca is among friends who have joined the prince on his latest African adventure - even driving William and Kate around her family's 45,000-acre ranch near the Il Ngwesi lodge resort.
The prince is on a month-long working holiday at Lewa Downs, the wildlife conservancy run by Jecca's parents, Ian and Jane, some four hours drive north of Nairobi.
Five years ago, he spent several weeks working on the estate as part of his gap year after Eton and is said to have enjoyed a teenage romance with Jecca, described by those who know her as "sweet, loyal and very outdoorsy".
The pair have remained close friends, with William travelling out to Kenya almost every year since to visit the Craigs, whose family settled at Lewa in 1924. They are seen by him as something of a second family.
To break up his trip this year, William asked 12 friends to join him at Lewa for a few days - including 23-year-old Kate and best friend Thomas van Straubenzee.
Kate Middleton: Prince William's current girlfriend
On Sunday, the prince treated the party by splashing out Ł1,500 to hire Il Ngwesi, which is run by Masai tribesmen, for the night. Situated on a hill next to the Ngare Ndare river and with magnificent views of snow-topped Mount Kenya, the resort is a paradise between peak and plain.
It consists of six "bandas", thatched open-plan cottages designed to make the most of the scenery. The showers, and even the toilets, are outside and overlook the tree-covered plains.
The cottage where William and Kate stayed has a large four-poster bed, draped with mosquito nets, which can be dragged out on to a platform to sleep under the stars.
William's party are believed to have arrived on foot shortly after lunch following a six-hour trek through the bush with armed guides. The prince, who had been working all morning, turned up later, driving himself along a rutted 25-mile track followed by Jecca.
That evening, the party sipped their "sundowners" - fruit-based cocktails - overlooking a water hole used by rhinos, elephants, giraffes, lions and zebra.
The other woman: Jecca Craig joins Wills and Kate on holiday
As the sun began to sink, they tucked into a lavish barbecue served on a wooden platform built jutting out into the air.
"William has stayed at Il Ngwesi twice before and fell in love with both the beauty of the lodge and its isolation," said a source close to the prince.
"It is a very romantic spot that he holds close to his heart so it is no surprise that he would have wanted to take Kate out there with him this time."
The couple met at St Andrews University. Since they graduated last month he has appeared in public with her several times, giving rise to speculation that the relationship is becoming increasingly serious.
Kate is said to be very relaxed about William's friendship with Jecca, with whom she also gets on well. William sees his ex-girlfriend, who is in a serious relationship of her own, regularly in England where she lives and studies.