Laikipia Plateau

camel laikipia The Laikipia Plateau is a wonderful destination for camel-back safaris

Dominated by livestock ranches in the colonial era, the vast Laikipia Plateau has since been transformed into one of East Africa’s finest and most exclusive wildlife destinations. Indeed, this mosaic of several dozen private and community-owned sanctuaries, overseen by the non-profit Laikipia Wildlife Foundation, now operates as Kenya’s second-largest conservancy after Tsavo, comprising 9,500km2 in total.

beisa oryx The Beisa oryx is an East African native

Ecologically, the plateau is transitional to the central highlands and northern deserts. As such, it provides an important stronghold for rarities such as Grevy’s zebra, black rhino and African wild dog. It also supports substantial numbers of lion, leopard and cheetah, along with dry-country specials such as reticulated giraffe, greater and lesser kudu, gerenuk and Beisa oryx.

Although the plateau forms a cohesive and jointly-managed ecological entity, the individual ranches and conservancies lodges all operate as self-contained tourist destinations, and most offer an exclusive all-inclusive package similar to those associated to the famous private game reserves bordering South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Activities include expertly guided games drives and some conservancies also offer night drives, guided walks and horseback excursions.

Highlights

maasai ol pejeta Maasai in Ol Pejeta

The 365km2 Ol Pejeta is the most accessible of the Laikipia conservancies and the only one that welcomes day visitors. It flanks the upper reaches of the Ewaso Nyiro River at the southern end of the plateau, only 25 km from Nanyuki. One of the most important rhino sanctuaries in East Africa, it also supports elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, reticulated giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest, Beisa oryx, gerenuk and 500-plus bird species. In addition to guided drives and walks, activities include lion tracking with researchers and visits to traditional villages.

chimpanzee sweatwater chimpanzee sanctuary Chimpanzee in Sweetwater Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Situated within Ol Pejeta, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established in 1993 to protect orphans formerly housed at the Jane Goodall Institute in Burundi. Since chimpanzees are not indigenous to Kenya, it is the only place in the country where these charismatic apes can be seen, ideally by taking a boat trip along the Ewaso Nyiro River, which runs through the riparian forest where they now live.

Grevy's zebra Grevy’s zebra is a highly endangered species of zebra

A former cattle ranch reconstituted as a non-profit-making wildlife sanctuary in 1983, the 263km2 Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is one of the oldest reserves in Laikipia, and relatively accessible by car. It is a crucial stronghold for the Endangered Grevy’s zebra, supporting around 400 individuals. It also provides sanctuary to significant numbers of black and white rhino, and an easily seen population of the localised sitatunga antelope. Other wildlife includes elephant, lion, leopard, spotted hyena and a semi-resident pack of African wild dogs.

ol petja walking safari A walking safari at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp

Remote and pristine, Northern Laikipia is carved up into a patchwork of community and private conservancies fronting the spectacular Ewaso Nyiro Gorge. The bush here is thicker and scrubbier than it is in the south, and while the Big Five are all present, densities are quite low. As a result, lodges tend to focus more on walking safaris than on motorised game viewing, making it an ideal bush retreat at the end of a longer safari, and offering an opportunity to concentrate on smaller mammals and the exceptional birdlife.

Maralal, the informal capital of the Samburu people and gateway town to remote Lake Turkana, is perched at an altitude of 1,965m on the northern edge of the Laikipia Plateau. Its annual Camel Derby, held over the second weekend in August, is popular both with residents and with foreign visitors.

Travel tips

Private lodges in Laikipia mostly cater to the top end of the safari market, and their standard package is an all-inclusive package that covers transportation, meals, activities and in some cases drinks. Coming from Nairobi, or elsewhere for that matter, the normal procedure would be to catch a scheduled flight from Wilson Airport to Nanyuki Airport, from where Ol Pejeta and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy are both relatively accessible by road, but more remote lodges are usually reached by light aircraft charter.


Our Recommended Itinerary

Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

day 1

Nairobi | Giraffe Manor
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

day 2

Laikipia | Solio Lodge
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

day 3

Laikipia | Solio Lodge
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

day 4

Laikipia | Solio Lodge
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

day 5

Samburu National Park | Sasaab Lodge
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

day 6

Samburu National Park | Sasaab Lodge
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

day 7

Samburu National Park | Sasaab Lodge
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)
  • Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

day 8

End of Journey

View Full Itinerary

You might also like

Solo travelling through Kenya

Even if you’re travelling solo, there are plenty of ways to meet people and have a great holiday | Credit: Governor’s Loldia House Most parts of Kenya are suited to solo travel. Independent travellers using public transport will find that locals are very friendly and keen to engage in conversation with single foreigners. On safaris, small tented camps and private concessions’ reserves…

Masai Mara National Reserve

Extending northeast from a shared border with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, the 1,510 km2 Masai Mara is the most famous and popular safari destination in Kenya, if not anywhere in Africa. The appeal of the Mara and adjacent private/community conservancies isn’t difficult to explain. Its mosaic of rolling hills, open grassland and acacia woodland supports a quite incredible…

A relaxed safari holiday in Kenya

Sit back and relax in Kenya Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline offers ideal conditions for chilling out. The most popular resorts are Diana, Malindi and Watamu. These resorts also boast a fine array of restaurants specialising in seafood and other international cuisines. The interior of Kenya is suited to a feet-up kind of holiday. The best way to keep a safari relatively relaxed is to…

Kenya in July

The Great Migration is well underway as the herds make their way to the Masai Mara Nairobi and the central highlands are warm by day, cool at night and receive practically no rain. Mombasa and the coast is hot by day, relatively cool at night, and receives a fair amount of rain. The Rift Valley and western interior are hot by day, cool at night and receive a moderate to high…

Malaria free holidays in Kenya

Malaria is a risk in Kenya, even on the coast Malaria is prevalent in most parts of Kenya. This includes the entire coast and most safari destinations, among them the Masai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo, Samburu-Buffalo Springs, Lake Nakuru and Meru. Exceptions are parts of the Laikipia Plateau (much of which sits at too high an altitude for the malaria parasite) and the tree hotels of the…

Kenya in October

October is a good time to visit the Masai Mara after the crowds have dispersed Nairobi and the central highlands are hot by day, cool by night and might receive occasional rain. Mombasa and the coast is very hot by day, rather hot at night, and receives a moderate to high rainfall. The Rift Valley and western interior are hot by day, cool at night and receive a moderate…

Popular Kenya Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

Asilia Africa | Spectacular July to September Wildebeest River Crossings  (10 days)

Spectacular July to September Wildebeest River Crossings (10 days)

Experience one of Africa's greatest spectacles – smell the dust and hear the noise of thousands of animals crossing the Mara River in an epic struggle for survival...

Lion cubs | Southern Kenya Sojourn (10 days)

Southern Kenya Sojourn (10 days)

Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara are southern Kenya's superstars, the best places for your safari...

 | Best of Africa Safari (16 days)

Best of Africa Safari (16 days)

Experience the best of Africa, from the Okavango Delta – one of Africa's Seven Natural Wonders – to the endangered mountain gorillas and East Africa's Great Migration...

 | Gorilla trekking and the Great Migration Combined (11 days)

Gorilla trekking and the Great Migration Combined (11 days)

Unforgettable experience in the jungles of Rwanda to track the last Mountain gorillas on earth and view the awesome Great Migration river crossings...

Giraffes | Special Five Safari in Kenya’s Samburu (8 days)

Special Five Safari in Kenya's Samburu (8 days)

Even if you've seen the Big Five and the Great Migration, you'll appreciate the different beauty of animals like reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, gerenuk and bongo...

Enjoying a sundowner whilst watching the wildebeest migration.  | HerdTracker Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Journey (7 days)

HerdTracker Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Journey (7 days)

Witness the wildebeest migration in Kenya's iconic Masai Mara National Reserve with HerdTracker...

 | Masai Mara Safari Adventure (6 days)

Masai Mara Safari Adventure (6 days)

Explore the jewel in Kenya's crown; the wildlife-rich Masai Mara National Reserve...

 | Migration Safari in Kenya and Tanzania (8 days)

Migration Safari in Kenya and Tanzania (8 days)

See the beauty of nature's greatest wildlife spectacle in two countries...

 | Wilderness safari in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe (10 days)

Wilderness safari in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe (10 days)

Why not visit more than one exciting African destination? See the Great Migration, Victoria Falls and wildlife-rich Hwange National Park...

 | Kenya Naturalist Safari (7 days)

Kenya Naturalist Safari (7 days)

Search for the near-extinct hirola antelope in Tsavo East, find Africa's largest elephants and visit Chyulu Hills to see Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak...

Ready to start your adventure?

+27 (0)21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2