Located to the north of Nairobi and Mount Kenya, the Laikipia Plateau is regarded as the gateway to Kenya’s remote and wild northern frontier country. The area is thinly populated and offers huge vistas and stretches of complete wilderness; some of Kenya’s finest views are found here. Huge cattle ranches and private estates cover the region, many of which are now private wildlife sanctuaries that contain the big five.
The plateau stretches north from the Abadare Mountain Range to the start of the Samburu tribal lands and lies in the shadow of the Matthews range. For years the area consisted of remote tribal lands and cattle ranches, with small guesthouses and homestays available to travellers. Over the years these have been converted into top-end accommodation on private estates, and tourism has flourished.
Wildlife conservation initiatives here have also been a fantastic success. Laikipia is now seen as a wildlife destination in its own right, with the big five on show and good numbers of endemic species such as the Grevy’s Zebra and reticulated giraffe as well as African wild dog and sitatunga antelope. Over 50% of Kenya’s rhino population are found in Laikipia, with a number of the ranches operating as breeding sanctuaries for both white and black rhino. Many of the concessions are also now run in conjunction with, or even by, the local community tribespeople themselves.
Laikipia: where to stay
Set in the hills surrounding the Lewa conservancy, Borana looks down over a waterhole and offers some of the best accommodation in the area. Loisaba, with its famous starbeds, is perched on top of the escarpment with most impressive views and an emphasis on relaxation rather than lots of game driving or non-stop activities.
The remainder of the lodges are set on the Lewa plain, with Lewa House, Lewa wilderness and Sarara all offering superb accommodation and a real emphasis on working with the local community. Lewa, in the conservancy itself, is probably our pick of the lodges if game viewing is high on your wishlist.