Nestled in the heart of Kenya, Laikipia stands as one of the country’s most remarkable and diverse wildlife sanctuaries. Located on the high plateau between Mount Kenya and the Great Rift Valley, Laikipia offers a captivating experience for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike.
Laikipia was split between ranchland and community land during the colonial era, when the wildlife was frequently persecuted, but decreased profitability of ranching coupled with greater eco-awareness eventually led to most of the plateau being turned into a patchwork of private and community-based wildlife sanctuaries.
Laikipia is renowned for its incredible landscapes, ranging from vast grasslands to majestic mountains and picturesque valleys. The region boasts a rich tapestry of attractions, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic African safari experience.
One of the most notable aspects of Laikipia is its diverse fauna. The conservancies that make up Laikipia are home to a wide array of wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, giraffes, zebras, and numerous species of antelope. This abundance of wildlife makes Laikipia an ideal destination for game drives and wildlife photography.
The Ewaso Ecosystem of Laikipia is larger than any protected area in Kenya other than Tsavo. It supports wildlife densities second only to Masai Mara, including about 7,000 elephants, plenty of predators and more than half the country’s black rhino.
Laikipia provides sanctuary to the only viable African wild-dog population in the northern hemisphere. There are several large packs with a combined total of around 300 individuals.
Moreover, Laikipia is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 400 bird species recorded in the region. From vibrant kingfishers and graceful eagles to colorful flamingos and elusive owls, the birdlife in Laikipia is a sight to behold.
In addition to its wildlife, Laikipia is also known for its diverse flora. The region is characterized by a variety of ecosystems, including open grasslands, acacia woodlands, and riverine forests. These habitats support a wide range of plant species, creating a vibrant and lush environment.
Laikipia comprises several conservancies, each with its unique charm and offerings. Ol Pejeta Conservancy, for instance, is known for its successful rhino conservation efforts and offers visitors the opportunity to see these magnificent creatures up close. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is another popular destination, famous for its thriving populations of both black and white rhinos.
Other notable conservancies in Laikipia include Borana Conservancy, Segera Retreat, and Loisaba Conservancy. Each of these conservancies contributes to the overall conservation efforts in the region and provides visitors with a chance to experience the wonders of Laikipia in their own unique way.
Things to Do in Laikipia
Laikipia offers a plethora of activities for visitors to enjoy. Game drives provide an opportunity to explore the vast landscapes and encounter the diverse wildlife that calls this region home. Guided walks and hikes are also available, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural surroundings and learn about the local flora and fauna from knowledgeable guides.
For those seeking a more adventurous Kenya safaris experience, Laikipia offers activities such as horseback safaris, camel treks, and mountain biking. These alternative modes of exploration allow visitors to connect with nature in a more intimate and exhilarating way.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary offer the observation tower that allows visitors to observe Kenya’s only chimpanzees, an introduced community of orphaned animals from war-torn Burundi
The private conservancies of Laikipia mostly offer night drives, which come with an excellent chance of seeing nocturnal creatures such as the genet, leopard, aardvark and the bushbaby
When to Go?
The best time to visit Laikipia is during the dry season, which typically runs from June to October. During this period, wildlife congregates around water sources, making it easier to spot animals during game drives. The weather is also more pleasant, with cooler temperatures and less rainfall.
Where to Stay?
When it comes to accommodation options, Laikipia caters to various preferences and budgets. From luxurious lodges and tented camps to more rustic and eco-friendly options, there is something to suit every traveler’s needs. Many of these accommodations are strategically located within or near the conservancies, providing guests with easy access to wildlife viewing and other activities.
How to Get There?
In terms of transportation, Laikipia can be reached by road or air. The region is well-connected to major cities such as Nairobi and Nanyuki by a network of well-maintained roads. Alternatively, several airstrips are available for those who prefer to travel by air, with regular flights operating to and from Laikipia.
Laikipia can be visited by road en route between the Aberdares and Samburu–Buffalo Springs. There is no public transport to the plateau, but Solio Ranch and Ol Pejeta are readily accessible from the main road in a private 4WD, and day visitors are welcomed. It is also easy to get to Nanyuki airport on public transport and fly to a lodge from there.