The vast open rangelands of the Laikipia (‘treeless plains’ in the Maa language) Plateau have been traditional grazing lands for livestock and game for generations. Some of Kenya’s most uncommon wildlife are found here. Different communities have lived and travelled through here for centuries.
With Mt Kenya in the south east, the Great Rift Valley to the west and the drylands in the north, Laikipia has a variety of habitats and biodiversity. There are no national parks or reserves in this lovely high plateau. Instead, the county has numerous conservancies, group ranches and private sanctuaries. Laikipia is a low-density tourism region, an untouched wilderness that lends itself to private holiday escapes.
The A2 / Nairobi-Nanyuki highway will take you Laikipia County, a journey of between 5-6 hours by road.
By air, Nanyuki airstrip is the nearest airfield and from there drive to your Laikipia destination. There are daily scheduled flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to Nanyuki on Safarilink and AirKenya, a trip of about 1 hour. Private air charter services also operate into Laikipia, from Nairobi and other destinations in Kenya.
Best Time to Go
December to February and June to September are considered the best months for visiting Laikipia, because of the dry and sunny weather conditions. During the rainy months of April, May, November some of the murram roads become difficult and impassable.
What to Do
Game drives are the classic safari experience. Taking in wildlife by road never grows old as mother nature always has something new each day. The privately managed conservancies are haven for wildlife and offer intimate game driving experiences. Laikipia is known for unusual species such as the endangered Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx, gerenuk antelopes, stripped hyenas, rare wild dogs and the nocturnal aardwolf.
For some soft adventure and up-close experience of nature, try a bush walk, an activity not possible in the state parks. Many of the recommended bush camps offer guided walks with a local naturalist. They have amazing indigenous knowledge of wildlife, landscapes, plants and their traditional uses.
Experience the breathtaking landscapes of Laikipia from the back of a horse. Riding alongside giraffes and other open-plains game, and traversing territory not reached by vehicles. A bush breakfast or sundowners might be waiting at the end off your exhilarating excursion. Experienced riders can book multi-day horseback safaris on well-schooled horses and led by professional guides.
Ngare Ndare Forest
In the northern foothills of Mt Kenya is the Ngare Ndare Forest, a 14,000 hectare remnant of a larger ecosystem. Waterbuck, monkeys, buffalo, warthogs and other wildlife live here. Deep inside the woods are natural pools under cascading waterfalls. You can take a guide forest walk and go up into the tree canopy on a suspended bridge. Bird enthusiasts will enjoy spotting the many forest species found here.
Hop out of the car and onto a camel for a leisurely trek through the savanna. Led by experienced local herders, camel riding gives you different and much closer perspective of nature. Extend your excursion with overnight camping in the bush.
Numerous Kenyan communities live in Laikipia County, some of whom still maintain a traditional way of life. Safari camps and bush homes can organise visits to an authentic village. Here you get to interact local people, observe some of their daily activities and understand their rich way of life.
Accommodation in Laikipia generally comprises of small, high-end safari camps and bush homes. Have a look at Nomad’s list of recommended places to stay.