Laikipia Parks and Reserves
What was once an farming area with huge livestock ranches, Laikipia is today one of Kenya's most progressive and biggest 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 Maasai Mara.
* Laikipia Highlights
- ∞Sprawling, vast plateau area with a wealth of wildlife
- ∞Considered to offer an even better safari experience than the Maasai 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
On the north-eastern side of the Great Rift Valley, and on the north-western 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 complete wilderness, which many claim can give the Maasai Mara a run for its money; not only in terms of sheer numbers of animals, but also for overall safari experience. Apart from Ol Pejeta area, which can get congested, the rest of these sprawling highland plains provide more than enough space for a safari par excellence.
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 co-operative and sustainable income for the local tribes that have made Laikipia their homes for centuries: 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 Gravy’s zebras and elephants in huge numbers. 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.
The animals in Laikipia, especially the rarer species, tend to be closely managed, with predators often radio-collared in order to track them, and wildlife rangers monitoring individual rhinos, keeping an eye on them 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.
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 of which provide an excellent environment for an astonishing variety of wildlife. 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, it may be an idea to charter a plane directly to its landing strip.
When to Visit Kenya Know when is good to go…
Best time to visit Kenya: a breakdown of the various seasons to give you an idea of when to go and what to pack.
When to Visit Kenya
Before you go to Laikipia Things you should know before you go!
Malaria is a consideration in Laikipia
Learn more about malaria areas and malaria prevention with our resource article.
Malaria Areas & Prevention
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More about Tsavo National Park