Located northwest of Mt Kenya and east of the Great Rift Valley, the Laikipia region is one of Kenya’s richest regions in terms of wildlife numbers and variety. Interestingly, this is despite there being no official National Park in the area. The region is subdivided in large private unfenced ranches where wildlife can roam free from the high plateau at the slopes of Mt Kenya, across the Ewaso Nyiro river and north in to the semi-arid bush wilderness of northern Kenya. All of Kenya’s most popular species can be found here in good numbers, including the big cats and a good population of Elephants. However, Laikipia is mostly remarkable for the conservation success of endangered species such as Black and White Rhinoceroses, African Wild Dogs and Grevy’s Zebras. All are quite common in this area.
Another great feature of this area is the fact that safaris are very intimate and without the crowds of the most popular National parks and reserves in the country. As visitors numbers increase in the Mara or Samburu, Laikipia has become a phenomenal destination for people seeking to avoid overcrowding around wildlife and a more direct and unspoilt connection with nature.
There are many conservancies and ranches in this region, each with its own features or main attractions. Our favourites for photography, starting from the south, are Solio, a relatively small ranch which was pivotal in saving the country’s Rhinoceroses during the poaching crises in the 80’s and 90’s. Nowadays, a high concentration of this charismatic pachyderms lives here, both Black and Whites. Photography opportunities with them are amazing. The setting is gorgeous, with Mt Kenya towering over the open plains in the east, and a gorgeous Yellow fever Acacia forest, wrapped in mist in the winter and hosting also a good population of Lions.
Moving slightly north and also a fundamental place for Rhino conservation is Ol Pejeta. It is here that the two last remaining Northern White Rhinos are preserved, along with a good population of Black and Southern White Rhinoceroses. Big cats are also found here in good numbers, as are Reticulated Giraffes, Elephants, Grevy’s and Burchell’s Zebras, and Lichtenstein Hartebeests.
Descending the kenyan highlands to the north is the magnificent Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a hub for wildlife conservation and a model for conservancies in the region. Stunning landscapes form the backdrop for teeming wildlife. Big cats are often seen, along with many Rhinos (both species), Elephants, Grevy’s Zebras and plains game.
Probably the most reliable place to see Wild Dogs in Kenya is Laikipia Wilderness, on the Ewaso Nyiro River. The guides here are amazing at tracking the packs that roam the area. Once found, they can be tracked on vehicle and on foot, providing an experience similar to that of Mana Pools in Zimbabwe. Also Leopards (including Black Leopards, with a lot of luck), Elephants and other plains game is commonly seen here in this great landscape of rugged hills and Acacia woodland.