Kenya

Laikipia Plateau


The eastern escarpment of the Rift Valley known as the Laikipia Plateau, is divided into a patchwork of enormous ranches. Over the years with cooperation from their owners, these farms were transformed into game reserves and now host some of the most exclusive lodges in the remotest parts of Kenya. Laikipia Wildlife Forum was founded and an enormous wildlife stronghold was born. The Forum hopes that Laikipia will increasingly be seen as Kenya's foremost exclusive destination due to the select nature of its lodges, the important ecosystem with large wildlife populations, and the fact that the plateau is home to more endangered species than anywhere else in East Africa. The area is extremely scenic with the escarpment giving way to dramatic wooded gorges and tangled riverine thickets. It has been made famous by Kuki Gallman who wrote 'I Dreamed of Africa' about her life in this secluded part of Africa. It is an area unknown to package tourists because all the accommodation is on private land where you are treated more like a house guest than a tourist. The Laikipia Plateau has considerable animal populations and is one of the last refuges of the endangered Black Rhino and has the largest elephant population outside of Kenya's national parks and reserves. The land on the plateau is divided into huge wildlife conservancies, sometimes known as ranches after the farms that used to exist there. All are now devoted to wildlife conservation. There are seven large conservancies: Borana Ranch, Il N'gwesi Group Ranch, the Lekurruki Group Ranch, Sabuk Wilderness, Lewa Wilderness Conservancy, Loisaba Wilderness and Sosian Ranch.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Lewa was once a cattle ranch; it then became a heavily guarded black rhino sanctuary, and it is now the headquarters for a non-profit wildlife conservancy, which has gained a world-wide reputation for extending the benefits of conservation beyond its borders. The Craig/Douglas family first came to Lewa Downs in 1922, and managed it as a cattle ranch for over 50 years. Unlike many other ranchers in the area, they had always valued the wildlife that shared the land with the cattle, and developed wildlife tourism as an additional activity. Situated on the northern slopes of Mt Kenya the 45,000 acre Lewa Wildlife Conservancy lays. The conservancy is committed to the conservation of wildlife and diverse habitats found in the area. The savannah grassland provides great game viewing opportunities - as good as anywhere in Africa, including endangered species - Rhino, Grevys Zebra, Sitatunga.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy (Sweetwater)

This is a 90,000 acre wildlife conservancy situated between the foot hills of the Aberdares and the magnificent snowcapped Mount Kenya. Ol Pejeta Conservancy boasts an astounding variety of animals including the non-indigenous chimpanzees and the big five (the endangered black rhino, the endangered white rhino, leopard, elephant, buffalo and lion). The combination of amazing wildlife and stunning views across the open plains of Ol Pejeta guarantees an unforgettable safari experience. In 1988, the Sweetwaters Game Reserve (24,000 acres) was opened by another of Ol Pejeta's previous owners, Lonrho Africa. And primarily started as a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino. In 2004 the reserve was purchased by Fauna and Flora International, a UK based conservation organization. The Sweetwaters game reserve has now be extended to encompass the entire ranching area to create the "Ol Pejeta Conservancy". This created the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, with the aim of generating profit from wildlife tourism and complementary activities (including cattle) for reinvestment into community development in the local area. A special thing to do is to visit the Sweetwaters chimpanzee sanctuary which is home to over 40 chimpanzees. The sole objective of the sanctuary is to provide a safe, secure and permanent refuge for theses chimpanzees.

Northern edge of the Laikipia plateau

An ancient land inhabited by wildlife and peoples of long ago, undisturbed and living by the rhythm of nature. In this vast, open expanse of unspoiled wilderness, elephants roam free and the lion's roar pierces the silence of the night. In this area you can learn about the challenges of ranching in such a harsh and untamed environment by participating in ranching activities at several ranches.

Matthews Mountain Range

The Matthews Mountain Range is located in Kenya's Northern Frontier and is one of the wildest areas in the country. The only permanent river in the region, the Ewaso Ng'iro, has cut deep gorges through the mountains. It is fed by seasonal mountain streams where indigenous flowering shrubs and prehistoric cycad palms flourish. There are thick forests, craggy peaks and beautiful open clearings. The mountains are a stronghold for many species. Herds of gazelle, oryx, ostrich, and Grevy's zebra share the pasture land with Samburu cattle. Elephant are found in great numbers whilst lion, leopard, greater kudu, waterbuck, giant forest hogs, buffalos and even wild dogs are among the other species found, together with more than 200 birds' species.

The Mountain Range environment is being preserved for future generations of Samburu, wildlife and visitors. The Samburu themselves have received great benefits from the guests of the camp in the area, through the Conservation Fee which goes directly to the community and funds education, health care, community development and more.

Recommended accommodation in and around Laikipia:

Wilderness Trails, Lewa Safari Camp, Sweetwaters Tented Camp, Porini Rhino Camp, Kicheche Laikipia Camp, Ol Malo, Loisaba Wilderness and Sarara


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