What was once a farming area with huge livestock ranches, Laikipia is today one of Kenya's most progressive and lauded success stories in conservation. It's a vast, sprawling area with a wealth of wildlife said to be even better than that of the famous Masai Mara.

  • Sprawling, vast plateau area with a wealth of wildlife
  • Considered to offer an even better safari experience than the Masai Mara
  • One of Kenya's most successful conservation efforts
  • Rare and endangered wildlife are actively managed
  • Tourism numbers are controlled to keep the area remote and undamaged
  • Co-operative and sustainable project involving the local communities
  • Home of an extremely rare melanistic leopard

On the northeastern side of the Great Rift Valley, and on the northwestern side of snow-capped Mount Kenya lies the flat plateau of Laikipia, considered to be the gateway to the more wild and remote northern frontier territories of Kenya. It's an area of vast open spaces and untamed wilderness, which many claim can give the Masai Mara a run for its money; not only in terms of sheer numbers of wildlife but also for the overall safari experience. Apart from the Ol Pejeta area, which can get congested, the rest of these sprawling highland plains provide more than enough space for a safari par excellence.

Lewa Conservancy Laikipia Kenya View of Mount Kenya Lewa House

View of Mount Kenya from Laikipia

(Image: Lewa House)

What was once an area of huge livestock ranches, Laikipia is now one of the most progressive and successful conservation areas in Kenya. The emphasis is on smaller, luxury safari tourism with fewer numbers and creating a cooperative and sustainable income for the local tribes that made Laikipia their home centuries ago; the Samburu, the Ilaikipiak and the Mokogodo Maasai.

Wealth of wildlife

Laikipia has the lion's share of the country's endangered species, including almost half of Kenya's black rhino population. It's also seen successful growth of wild dog populations with several established packs and is now recognised as the second most important site for them in Africa. You're also likely to encounter large numbers of unique Grevy's zebra and elephant. Most of the rare game in Laikipia is actively managed, some with radio collars for tracking and protection. On occasion, you may even be lucky enough to become involved with local conservation activities.

Lewa Conservancy Laikipia Kenya Game drive white rhino Lewa House

A crash of white rhino spotted on game drive

(Image: Lewa House)

The animals in Laikipia, especially the rarer species, tend to be closely managed, with predators often radio-collared in order to track them. Wildlife rangers monitor individual rhino, keeping an eye on each one day and night. While this might strike you as unnatural, it's hard to argue with the results; better understanding of animal movements, behaviour and population trends, and even occasional opportunities for visitors to be directly involved in wildlife conservation activities.

The black leopard of Laikipia

Laikipia has become famous for sightings of a black leopard called Giza. Melanistic cats are extremely rare and news of Giza was met with excitement when she was first captured on camera by Will Burrard Lucas in 2019.

Africa travel guide Laikipia Kenya

Giza, the black leopard of Laikipia

(Image: Albie V Laikipia Wilderness Camp.jpg)

Giza was born and grew up less than 100 metres from Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Central Laikipia and is frequently spotted on game drives in and around the area.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

This is one of the oldest of Laikipia's conservancies which also incorporates the rolling grasslands of Lewa Downs. There's an interesting mix of landscapes from riverine woodland and scrub bushveld to expansive, endless plains, all providing an excellent environment for an astonishing variety of wildlife.

Lewa Conservancy Laikipia Kenya Guided bush walk Lewa House

Family-friendly Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

(Image: .Lewa House)

The conservancy protects a respectable population of white and black rhino as well as about 350 Grevy's zebra and a small population of the rare sitatunga, a water-loving antelope that's usually found in the riverine forests of central Africa.

Getting to Laikipia

Three airstrips service the scheduled safari flights into Laikipia; Nanyuki (the main one), Loisaba and Lewa Downs. Transfers from the airstrips to the safari lodges usually take under an hour. For the more remote lodges, you may want to charter a plane directly to their landing strips.

Borana Ranch & Safari Lodge
Borana Ranch & Safari Lodge - Laikipia County - Kenya

All rooms and main lodge at Borana Ranch & Safari Lodge in Laikipia County overlook a waterhole where wildlife frequently come to drink and cool off at. There's always game activity for you to enjoy; watching from the lodge, game drives, bush walks, horseback riding safaris, mountain bike safaris, helicopter and biplane flights, quad bike and buggy trips.

Kicheche Laikipia Camp
Kicheche Laikipia Camp - Kenya

Kicheche Laikipia Camp is a small, luxurious, tented camp set at the foot of Mount Kenya at the edge of an indigenous forest near an active waterhole. Enjoy game viewing from the comfort of your private verandah overlooking the water, with wildlife activity throughout the day.

Solio Lodge
Solio Lodge - Laikipia - Kenya

Solio Lodge is situated in a wildlife conservancy in the game-rich Laikipia district. Solio Game Reserve is recognised globally as the most successful private rhino breeding reserve in Kenya, where both white and black rhino live in harmony with plentiful herds of buffalo, zebra, giraffe and numerous other big game species.

Meru National Park
Elephant Herd at Meru National Park, Kenya

Although Meru National Park was made famous by Joy Adamson's "Born Free" books, it remains largely undiscovered and untamed. With its rugged jungle, rivers, swamps and grasslands, game viewing opportunities are excellent. Neglected on safari bucket lists for years, it has been restored to its former glory while evading the hordes of safari visitors.

Ol Pejeta Bush Camp
00 feature Ol Pejeta Bush Camp Laikipia Kenya

Ol Pejeta Bush Camp is a charming tented safari camp located in Kenya's Laikipia region. All seven spacious, eco-friendly canvas tents look out onto the Ewaso Ngiro River and, with activities like the Junior Ranger Programme, Ol Pejeta Bush Camp is a fantastic choice for families.

Loisaba Tented Camp
00 feature Loisaba Tented Camp Laikipia Kenya

With uninterrupted views of the Laikipia plains that stretch all the way to snow-clad Mount Kenya, Loisaba Tented Camp offers Africana-themed tented safari camp accommodation in a game-rich private wildlife conservancy renowned for its passionate conversation efforts and uplifting community projects.

Laikipia Wilderness Camp
Feature Laikipia Wilderness Camp Laikipia Kenya

Laikipia Wilderness Camp is an intimate, family-run safari camp that offers comfortable and homely accommodation in the unfenced wilderness of Central Laikipia. Laikipia Wilderness offers an authentic wildlife experience in a beautiful 70,000-acre landscape that is home to a wide range of wildlife, including the famous black leopard of Laikipia.

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