The high plains of Laikipia are one of the great conservation success stories in East Africa. Historically, this region was a network of privately owned cattle ranches. Farms and livestock farming arestill an important industry in thisarea today, but over the years landowners have converted vast areas of their land into wildlife zones. The results have been spectacular!Laikipiamay not have the sheer numbers of animalsthat are found in the Masai Mara, but in terms of the overall safari experience, it is one of the premier safari areas in Kenya. All the major predators can be found here including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, and some of the best Wild Dog sightings in Kenya. Elephant and rhino are also frequently seen hereas well as a huge diversity of plains game.
Land here is managed to protect the wildlife and ensure good grazing all year round. Conservancies in Laikipia have some of the best anti-poaching teams in Africa. This has enabled them to be at the forefront of rhino conservation and the area is now home to around half the black rhino population in Kenya.
Laikipia has also established itself as one of the most exclusive high-endsafari destinations in Africa. Many of the private conservancies here have just a few small lodges that have sole access to theirparticular conservancy. This means guests can enjoy a peaceful safari with no crowds even in peak season. And many of the lodges are luxurious,providing superb levels of service. Inevitably this does mean that in general prices are higher inLakapiacompared to other safari areas in Kenya. But there are still some excellent options here which are relativelyaffordable. Atthe luxury end of the market, prices of safari lodges in Laikipia are in fact lower compared to similar quality lodges in other areas,making them very good value indeed.
The scenery in Laikipia is beautiful and a real contrast to the flat plains of the Masai Mara. Situated between the northern deserts and Mount Kenya, it is a diverse mix of rolling hills, grassy pastures, rushing rivers, woodlands,and lush riverine forests. The area is very accessible. There are direct scheduled flights from Nairobi to 3 airstrips in the region -Nanyuki, Lewa and Loisaba. And there are direct flights from Laikipia to the Masai Mara which makes it very easy to combine these outstanding safari areas.
Where to Stay in Laikipia
The Laikipia region is divided up into several private reserves or conservancies. The 2 main conservancies are Lewa/Borana and Ol Pejeta. The former has several mostly high end lodges whilst Ol Pejeta offers some of the best options for more reasonably priced accommodation. Other notable conservancies with higher end lodges are Solio and Sosian with just one luxury lodge in each,and Loisaba which has 2 superb camps,including the atmospheric Loisaba Star Beds. For more affordable camps in Laikipia, El Karama Ranch, Mugie Conservancy,and Ol Doinyo Ranch have some excellent options. The latter, in particular, is home to Laikipia Wilderness Camp, one of our favourites in the region!
There is also a wonderful range of accommodation options in Laikipia. As well as the more classic tented camps, there are lodges with stone cottages and even ones that feel more like a family homestead. Indeed, several are owned and operated by families who have farmed in thisregion for generations,giving them a uniquely hospitable and friendly atmosphere. Laikipia is also one of the best safari destinations for families with young children. El Karama Lodge and Laikipia Wilderness Camp stand out as 2 of the best family friendly safari camps we have found in Africa!
Activities in Laikipia
The range of activities on offer in Laikipia is a real highlight. As well as the conventional game drives including night drives, it may be possible to do walking safaris, horse riding, camel rides, fishing, mountain biking and cultural village tours. More informal activities may include swimming in local rock pools and waterfalls. It may also be possible to get an insight into the conservation projects the camp supports including accompanying a guide as they radio track collared animals. Not all camps will offer all these activities and some of them may be at additional cost. But it is fair to say that most camps in Laikipia offer a wider range of activities compared to other safari areas!