Kenya’s second-largest protected area, the 3,600-square-mile conservancy overseen by the non-profit Laikipia Wildlife Foundation operates very differently to other East African safari destinations. It comprises a patchwork of small contiguous unfenced sanctuaries that run northward from the central highlands below Mount Kenya to the lower-lying semi-arid thornbush incised by the Ewaso Nyiro and Ewaso Narok Rivers. Some properties within Laikipia are former ranches, while others utilize Maasai, Kikuyu, Samburu or Pokot community land. All offer good Big Five viewing, with elephant and rhino being particularly numerous. Laikipia is also a stronghold for dry-country specials such as reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, greater and lesser kudu, gerenuk and Beisa oryx. 

Discover  Laikipia

Southern Laikipia hosts several of Kenya’s most luxurious private reserves and lodges. These provide an exclusive Big Five safari experience reminiscent of Sabi Sands and other leading private reserves in South Africa. Game drives with expert guides are run on private land, so crowding is never an issue. These are complemented by guided walks, horseback excursions and night drives.

One of the largest components of Laikipia, Ol Pejeta is unusual in that it caters to day visitors. A unique activity here is the boat trip into Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, where some 40 orphaned chimps relocated from Burundi inhabit riparian forest flanking the Ewaso Nyiro River.

A former cattle ranch reconstituted as a wildlife sanctuary, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy supports 20% of the global population of Grevy’s zebra. It also hosts an easily seen population of the localized sitatunga antelope, and a pack of African wild dogs is partially resident.

The remote and pristine scrubland of Northern Laikipia is home to several community and private conservancies fronting spectacular river gorges. The trend here is towards elusive luxury bush camps that focus mainly on walking safaris in dense bush that supports lower game densities but has a wilder feel than the south.

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