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Laikipia

Laikipia straddles the equator, lying between the ice-capped peaks of Mt Kenya, the arid lowlands of Samburu and dazzling Lake Baringo. The region’s appeal is its startling contrasts, in wildlife, landscape, people and climate. It is traversed by the Ewaso Nyiro and Ewaso Narok Rivers. The Laikipia Maasai, Kikuyu, Meru, Turkana, Samburu, Borana and Pokot all inhabit the region.

Nanyuki airport has daily scheduled flights from destinations in Kenya. Many of the ranches, sanctuaries and conservancies have airstrips suitable for charter flights. The area is accessible by road from Nanyuki, Baringo, Nyahururu, Isiolo and Maralal.

There are no national parks in Laikipia. The region is made up of private game ranches, sanctuaries and conservancies, most of whom are members of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, LWF. The forum, established in 1992, is a broad based conservation organisation dedicated to preserving and managing wildlife populations and wilderness habitats in Laikipia. It also aims to better the lives of people in the area through supporting and generating livelihoods and expanding access to essential natural resources. Mpala Research Centre studies and monitors Laikipia’s environment and wildlife, helping to ensure that its people and wildlife coexist in harmony.

The Ewaso ecosystem is home to the highest populations of endangered species in Kenya. There are eight protected rhino sanctuaries, which together hold over half of Kenya’s black rhino population. The area is also a safe haven for the endangered Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and Lelwel hartebeest. It has significant numbers of predators, including wild dog, and the second largest elephant population in Kenya.

Salama Ngororo Caves are called Daraja ya Mungu, or God’s Bridge, by the local people because of their incredible views. Traditionally, the caves were used for religious ceremonies, and it is said that in the 1950s the Mau Mau used them as hideouts during their fight for independence from the British Colonial Government. Ngano-ini Ngororo Caves and adjacent gorge run alongside a seasonal river. During the rainy season, water flows over the caves and gorge in a frothing waterfall. Both cave sites are suitable for hiking, rock climbing, camping and picnicking.

The region offers a wealth of unusual activities. Camel safaris are an exotic way to explore the bush, and can be single-day trips, or multiday camping safaris. Mountain biking and horse riding trips are offered in many places. Fishing in local rivers and dams is available. Game bird shooting and clay pigeon shooting are offered on some ranches. Guided game walks immerse visitors in the sheer vastness of Laikipia.

The Safaricom Lewa Marathon takes place annually in June. For the occasion, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy opens its gates and its campsites to runners and their supporters, and provides a colourful and entertaining weekend. Profits support education, health, community development and wildlife conservation projects across Kenya.

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