Road-tripping in Kenya can be exhilarating but also occasionally grueling. Our recent family expedition to Elewana’s new addition to Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia was a perfect example. With Nairobi behind us, what followed was three and a half hours of barrelling through eaten, potholed tarmac and mucky murram, coupled with momentary stops waiting for herds of nonchalant cattle and rambunctious goats to cross the road. Then, an hour and a half of going around in circles in the conservancy having followed the wrong Google Map pin. All this, during some of the heaviest rains Kenya has encountered in decades. Needless to say, by the time we reached Lodo Springs, tempers were frayed.
We were warmly welcomed by the camp manager who must have thought we were nuts for deciding to drive, and ushered down into the property that sits perched atop an escarpment with breathtaking views of the plains leading to Mt Kenya. Due to its elevation, a consistent breeze carried the sounds of whistling thorn acacias and weaver birds. After eight hours in a car with two kids, finally, silence.
Elewana’s Loisaba Lodo Springs officially opened in mid-2019 being the third of their properties (others are Loisaba Tented Camp and Loisaba Star Beds) in this 57,000 acre conservancy and ranch. Unlike the other two hospitality offerings though, this property was a new build and a massive undertaking creatively led by architects and spatial designers Chris Payne (of White Elephant Trading Co.) and Jan Allen. The focal point for each of the eight stone-clad bedrooms is the limitless and unobstructed sight of the archetypal African plains with a high tented ceiling evoking the same sense of awe that can often be found in places of worship. Nature is the focus.
Loisaba is known to be part of one of East Africa’s largest elephant corridors and our game drives in Elewana’s open Land Rovers accompanied by a dedicated guide clearly demonstrated that. The elephants were shy and not used to human contact. On close approach to a herd of 10 tuskers, the matriarch flapped her ears and pretended to charge as an act of warning, protecting the young calves that were under her care. It was a heart thumping insight into the intelligence of these vulnerable creatures.
Shrouded in several layers of shuka blankets, after sunset we tailed a lone lioness for 30 minutes culminating in an unsuccessful hunt of a skittish impala. Other wild game that the conservancy protects, including leopards, cheetahs and rare wild dogs, were much more elusive, hidden in swathes of towering bushland.
Dinners were in the cosy main dining room over candlelight and wine, digging into dishes like freshly baked focaccia with a soy dipping sauce or a warm and delicately spiced mushroom laksa soup and vegetable dumplings. In addition to the gourmet meals, they also had a separate kids menu and much to our amusement, chips and spaghetti were also mainstay during mealtimes for our fussy younger son. Breakfast and lunch were an outdoor affair, overlooking an infinity pool and the plains of Loisaba where a solitary elephant could be seen in the valley drinking from the Lodo Spring, a natural water source that attracts nearby wildlife and the namesake for the luxury property.
As our time came to an end, the ‘adventure’ that awaited in our journey back home was at the back of all our minds. We did however take comfort in two things. First, that we had experienced the beauty and majesty of this pocket of Kenya in the most sublime way as a family. Second, that when we came back to Lodo Springs…we’d take a flight!