The Matthews Range of mountains is an area of untouched wilderness that would stake its claim as one of Kenya’s remotest regions. Sitting between Kenya’s barren northern wastelands and the busier Laikipia safari region, the Range stands in stark contrast to the surrounding low-lying savannah plains. Although it receives very few visitors, this area offers some of East Africa’s finest walking.
This region is primarily a wilderness area and not a big game destination; however, there are a good number of elephant, along with buffalo and leopard. The main attraction is the remoteness and the scarcity of other visitors. Days are spent exploring the area on game walks, birdwatching and interacting with the local Samburu tribe. It's a destination for old safari hands or for people wanting to explore a little-visited region.
The walking here is superb. A series of steep gullies and winding paths snake through the Matthews Range and the Ngeng River has a couple of large rock pools perfect for swimming. As a result of the higher altitude, the Range is a rain catchment area and the valleys here are thick with forests; the vistas you might expect are often covered by thick vegetation.
Matthews Range: where to stay
We recommend flying in to this area rather than driving, and there are two camps we are happy to recommend. Kitich Camp ('place of happiness' in Samburu) is a six-roomed bush camp with long drop toilets and canvas bag showers. It is a great little camp with good guides and a range of activities, as well as a reputation for slight eccentricity but good food as a result of its Italian owner's influence. Sarara on the other hand is run entirely by the local Samburu with the help of the Lewa Conservancy in return for protection of the area's wildlife. With only five rooms, Sarara is slightly more luxurious than Kitich and is one of Kenya's greatest recent success stories.