The best known region of Laikipia is undoubtedly the Lewa Conservancy. Like much of Laikipia, Lewa was originally a cattle ranch until the Craig/Douglas family dedicated the land as a black rhino sanctuary and the conservancy a Non-Profit Organisation. Today, Lewa is one of Africa's greatest conservation success stories with a game density second only to the Masai Mara and the highest population of black and white rhino in East Africa.
Lewa is big five country and offers reliably impressive game viewing - set over 60,000 acres, it is immensely diverse. Open grassland savannah, the Lewa swap, stunning forest and rolling hills. All with the backdrop of Mount Kenya. It boasts East Africa's largest Rhino population and is definitely the best place in Kenya to see these endangered mammals. There are plenty of elephants that roam through the migration corridors in the conservancies fence. Frequent sightings of big cats, Lion, Leopard and Cheetah as well as a variety of rare species ranging from Grevy’s zebra to sitatunga and oryx. There are a wide range of activities from which to explore Lewa and the surrounding area, camel treks and horse riding. Walking, game drives and night drives. Helicopter and flying safaris and quad bike or buggie trips.
From Lewa the rolling red hills spread north with long-ranging vistas as far as the eye can see. There are a number of ranches and conservancies that boarder Lewa, and make up part of the world renowned Laikpia Plateau, including Borana to its eastern boundary, Il Ngwesi to the north with Samburu and the Mathews Mountains beyond and the Ngare Ndare Forest to the south.
Lewa: where to stay
Lewa offers a handful of privately owned luxury safari camps, lodges and private houses, making it an exclusive destination, without any mass market hotels. Lewa Safari Camp, Lewa Wilderness, Lewa House are fantastic camps with great guides and offer high end accommodation whilst retaining a homely feel. Sirikoi and Kifaru House (only taken on an exclusive basis) are two of the best lodges in Africa and are truly 5 star destinations, but come with a hefty price tag!
All the camps in Lewa work very closely with the local communities. Lewa Downs is a pioneer of conservation initiatives, and HQ of the Northern Rangelands Trust and Tusk Trust Kenya. A must visit for those with a passion for community and wildlife conservation.
Bordering Lewa Downs is the Borana Conservancy, situated on the edge of an escarpment overlooking a waterhole, often frequented by large herds of elephants! It offers some fantastic accommodation including Borana Lodge and Laragai House, which can be a used as an alternative to staying in Lewa itself, whilst still having the opportunity to explore Lewa Downs.