Kenya’s New Safari Paradise — the Laikipia Plateau

January 2, 2019 - 5 minutes read

Located to the north of Nairobi between Mt Kenya and the Great Rift Valley, the Laikipia Plateau sprawls across over more than 3,600 square miles of East African bush. A patchwork of wildlife conservancies, tribal lands, and private farms and ranches, this scenic region has is now one of the primary places to undertake a safari in Kenya alongside more well-known names like the Mara and Tsavo-Amboseli.

Residents, private enterprise and nonprofits like the Northern Rangelands Trust have banded together to protect the region’s wildlife while offering luxurious safari tourism that also generates income for the local Samburu and Ilaikipiak and Mokogodo Maasai communities.

The Laikipia now harbors some of Kenya’s highest concentrations of endangered species like the African wild dog and black rhino (a population of around 300), and about a quarter of Africa’s remaining Grevy’s zebra. Additionally, around 2,000 elephants roam the area along with most of Kenya’s other, more prolific wildlife.

Conservation and education efforts are well advanced in the Laikipia, with rangers keeping an eye on the more critically endangered animals 24/7 and many predators wearing radio-collars to track their movements. As well as better protection, this has resulted in increased understanding of animal behavior, movements and populations.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Located on the east side of the Laikipia region, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy protects more than 65 black and 50 white rhino as well as 350 Grevy’s zebra and the rare sitatunga, a semi-aquatic antelope more usually seen in central Africa.

Comprising the grasslands of Lewa Downs, and a mixture of riverine woodland, scrubby bush and open plains, the conservancy provides a range of environments for a very wide variety of game to live and be seen.

The Conservancy invests around 70% of its annual US$2.5-million budget into health care, education and various community projects in surrounding villages. The remaining 30% of funds are put towards wildlife conservation and security projects.

As a private reserve, you can only enter the park if you have booked accommodation at camps or lodges inside the park like Elewana’s Lewa Safari Camp.

Featuring large tented accommodation with open-air verandahs and full ensuite bathrooms, Lewa offers genuine comfort in a wilderness setting. With it’s comfy chairs and cozy log fires, the lodge sitting room is perfect for relaxing after a day of game drives and wildlife watching. This unique and exclusive retreat offers privileged access to 65,000 acres of private, protected wilderness.

By the way, Prince William proposed to his then-girlfriend Kate Middleton while visiting Lewa Safari Camp in 2010.

Loisaba Wildlife Conservancy

Farther west, the 56,000-acre Loisaba Wildlife Conservancy started life as a working cattle ranch that gradually evolved into a wildlife preserve and tourism destination under the sagacious direction of its private owners.

Now owned and managed by the Loisaba Community Trust, the conservancy has become a catalyst for local community development, a hub for wildlife research, and a world-class ecotourism and safari destination.

The conservancy is a home to more than 260 different kinds of bird and at least 50 mammal species including African buffalo, greater kudu, wild dog, Grevy’s zebra and more than 800 elephant. With three resident lion prides and numerous leopard and cheetah sightings, the big cat population is thriving.

Once again, visitors requirement overnight reservations to enter the conservancy. The Elewana Collection offers three distinct choices.

Perched at the very edge of the plateau, the luxurious Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp is designed to capitalize on unobstructed, panoramic views across the landscape all the way to Mt Kenya. Spacious tents feature large floor-to-ceiling doors and windows, high ceilings and polished wood floors spread along the rim on either side of a large open dining and lounge area and one of Africa’s most picturesque infinity pools.

Offering unbridled luxury and total exclusivity, Elewana Kifaru House comprises five thatched cottages tucked away in an oasis of vibrant lawns. The well-appointed bedrooms boast sumptuous four-poster beds and generous ensuite bathrooms. The lodge’s comfortable sitting room and elegant dining area extend outwards to a terrace with views of the nearby waterhole and a pool area with magnificent views of the distant plains.

Poised on a rocky kopje, Elewana Loisaba Star Beds offer sweeping views of a valley and busy waterhole — and a rare chance to sleep beneath Africa’s night sky. The thatched-roofed bungalows feature four-poster beds that are rolled out onto the wooden deck each night.

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