An elephant in Laikipia, Kenya

Laikipia: Kenya’s Lesser Known Wildlife Haven

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Niarra Travel

In the shadow of Mount Kenya, where cattle ranches once dominated the undulating landscape, Laikipia, in Northern Kenya, is an unfolding conservation success story and a well-kept secret. From farmed land, much of this infinite plateau has been restored to its wild, natural state and has become a refuge for wildlife, including endangered species like black rhinos and African wild dogs, and even the fabled black leopards of Laikipia.

Made up of private, well-managed conservancies, the safari experience here is one of Kenya’s finest, especially as the best lodges in Laikipia are some of Africa’s most exclusive, and quietest – you’ll encounter very few other vehicles as you explore.

A conscious effort to craft an environment where communities and creatures can live harmoniously in a shared space means going on safari here perfectly combines luxury, adventure and sustainability, with every guest helping to generate income for local indigenous people and conservation.

Here is everything you need to know about exploring the wildlife haven that is Laikipia in Kenya.

Bison in the Lewa Wilderness, in Laikipia Kenya

Laikipia Wildlife

Among the rolling hills, rocky outcrops and groves of fever trees that make up Laikipia’s arid landscapes, an astounding array of animals go about their days. The diversity of wildlife here gives even the legendary Maasai Mara a run for its money, boasting the second biggest populations of large mammals in Kenya and, even more impressively, more endangered species than anywhere else on the continent.

Laikipia is particularly well known for its rhinos – it is an excellent place to encounter both black and white, including the final two remaining northern white rhinos in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. You can also spot endangered species like Grevy’s zebra, Jackson’s hartebeest, wild dogs, reticulated giraffes and Somali ostriches and thriving populations of elephants, lions, leopards and cheetahs. Whether you choose to safari by vehicle or on foot, it’s going to be an adventure.

There is one other extremely rare creature that stalks the bush here, Lakipia’s black leopards. A melanistic variation, Laikipia has the largest known population of these almost mythical creatures, with five known individuals living in the area. They are almost impossible to spot in the wild, even though their colouring stands out against the browns and ochres of the landscapes. But you never know, with the right guide, you might get lucky!

Lion at Solio Lodge in Laikipia, Kenya

Culture in Laikipia

The Laikipia region encompasses the tribal lands of the Samburu, Ilaikipiak Maasai and Mukogodo Maasai communities who own or have close links with many of Laikipia’s conservancies as custodians, guides and rangers.

Not only are the Maasai communities able to benefit from tourism in both direct and indirect ways, guests are able to visit community projects and enterprises to educate themselves on indigenous culture and further support local people and their livelihoods. In this respect, adding Laikipia to your itinerary in Kenya is not only supporting conservation but helping to reduce animal-human conflict by increasing a sense of ownership and security for those sharing the land.

Giraffe and Camels in Laikipia Kenya

Laikipia Accommodation

The various conservancies across the region host a range of luxurious lodges and camps that also offer a variety of activities, including mountain biking, horse riding and even camel riding.

When it comes to picking out the best lodges in Laikipia, it can be difficult to choose from the array of accommodation on offer, but here are three that we consider to be among the area’s finest establishments.

Borana Lodge

The spectacularly set Borana Lodge sits on old cattle ranch, its 14,000 hectares rewilded and full of life. A certified Global Ecosphere Retreat, making it not only one of the best lodges in Laikipia but also among the most sustainable. There are six luxurious stone and thatch cottages, panoramic views and a perfectly positioned infinity pool. There is so much scope for adventure here, including rhino tracking on foot and horse riding.

Lengishu House

Part of Borana, Lengishu House is a beautiful private house nestled in rolling hills, that can accommodate up to 12 guests in a main house and four cottages. It has a wealth of safari options including wildlife viewing from the air. Complete with a stunning swimming pool and delicious farm-to-fork dining experiences, this is the perfect place for a luxury family safari in the Laikipia region.

Lewa Wilderness

On the adjoining conservancy, Lewa Wilderness is a luxury lodge and pioneering rhino sanctuary that has nine cottages that exude a wonderfully homely feel. Explore the wilderness on horseback, by electric Land Cruiser or guided walk. Or even take to the skies in the camp’s bright yellow WACO bi-plane, offering you a stunning alternate viewpoint of the surrounding hills.

Are you planning on organising a trip to Kenya which includes a visit to the magical Laikipia County? Get in touch with our expert travel team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US) or at explore@niarratravel.com and we will help begin planning your incredible Kenyan experience right away.

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