Articles

Laikipia: The Destination

Laikipia tourism

Laikipia is one of the world’s most exciting wilderness safari and wildlife tourism destinations. The combination of abundant wildlife, spectacular scenery and extraordinary cultural diversity in a setting dominated by the iconic backdrop of Mount Kenya makes for an unforgettable experience.

Lying on the thresholds of Kenya’s wild Northern rangelands, Laikipia stretches from the slopes of Mt Kenya to the rim of the Great Rift Valley and is larger than all of Kenya’s national parks and reserves except Tsavo. Its magnificent escarpments descend into the arid lands and semi deserts of Northern Kenya.

A sanctuary for over 80 mammal species including black rhino, elephant, lion, leopard, Grevy Zebra, reticulated giraffe, aardwolf, wild dog and a wealth of African game, Laikipia biodiversity is globally unique.

After Tsavo, Laikipia is Kenya’s most extensive wildlife haven, forming part of the much broader 56,000-km2 Ewaso Ecosystem. All of the ‘Big Five’ mammals occur in Laikipia. Indeed, the Ewaso elephant population of about 7,000 is, in Kenya, outnumbered only by that in Tsavo. Half of all the endangered Black Rhinos found in Kenya today are in Laikipia.

 

Moreover, Laikipia may now support as many as 250 lions – a significant proportion of the estimated 2,000 individuals that remain in Kenya. The Ewaso Ecosystem hosts the largest populations left on earth of various other endangered mammals, including Grevy’s Zebra and Reticulated Giraffe, the only remaining viable population of Jackson’s Hartebeest, as well as an expanding population of the globally endangered African Wild Dog.

In providing a safe refuge for four of the world’s last eight surviving Northern White Rhinos, Laikipia may represent the final chance this embattled subspecies has of breeding again in a wild setting and of thus staving off otherwise certain extinction. The four rhinos were in December 2009 transferred to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.

Laikipia tourism

It is not just the rare and endangered animals that make Laikipia so special. It plays host to a great diversity of life, from the smallest insects to vast herds of impala, buffalo and zebra. It is renowned for the richness of its bird life.

The ‘Laikipia experience’ comes largely free of the constraints that apply in most National Parks and Reserves. Night game drives, guided nature walks, bike tours, horse-riding and camel treks – all prohibited in most parks – are just some of the exhilarating activities that await visitors to Laikipia. People too are an integral part of the Laikipia experience. A well-developed tourism infrastructure complete with high levels of community involvement and participation gives the visitor privileged access to the cultures and customs of the region’s Mukogodo Maasai, Samburu, Pokot and other peoples.

Laikipia is a classic example of how well-designed tourism investments can lead to major conservation and economic gains. Hundreds of thousands acres of land has been set aside over the years by local communities for conservation and ecotourism developments. The key innovation in these areas is that tourism investments have been structured as jointly owned ventures, in the form of lodges or tented camps, between private investors and the local land-owning communities. Some of these ventures include Il Ngwesi Lodge, Tassia, Koija Star Beds and The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille.

Laikipia has a diverse range of tourism facilities including small lodges, tented camps, ranch houses, community lodges and resorts/hotels. Based in natural wildlife areas, they focus on selling wilderness based tourism. Currently there are over 40 accommodation facilities in the Laikipia area, many of which have been awarded tourism awards both overseas and in Kenya.

Karibu Laikipia! Where visitors are guaranteed a rich and intensely rewarding experience.

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