This spectacular region is considered the gateway to Kenya’s wild Northern frontier country. Wild and sparsely populated, much of Laikipia is covered by large privately owned ranches. These ranches cover a wide range of landscapes, with high plains and low forested valleys. Its exclusive nature and outstanding quality of lodges, the remarkable integrity of the ecosystem with its immense wildlife populations, and more endangered species, Laikipia has become Kenya's premier safari destination.
Known as Kenya’s high country, Laikipia’s vast plains stretch from the slopes of Mount Kenya to the rim of the Great Rift Valley and the edge of Kenya's northern rangelands. Its wild, diverse and scenically spectacular landscape offers visitors solitude, freedom and space and supports great variety and numbers of game.
On most ranches cattle share the land with free ranging wildlife. In recent years this wildlife has become a valuable asset, with many ranches now establishing guest houses, home stays and private camps within their boundaries. This has proven a great success, and many ranches now rely on a thriving tourist trade.
Community ranches are also formed to create new business. These are sanctuaries created by local communities, who have combined small scale farms and grazing land into large group ranches. Once again, the tourist trade has proved infinitely more profitable than agriculture or herding, and this allows them to use their traditional lands in a way that is sustainable and productive. Significantly, they are conserving more than just wildlife, but also a way of life.
These ranches have bolstered a sense of local identity and strengthened community ties. These community ranches are the best place in Kenya to learn more about traditional cultures and their role in modern world. The result is an area of beautiful wilderness, where protected game roams freely and safely. Centered around the original Laikipia National Reserve, this area has become a sanctuary for Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, and a wealth of plains game, including many endemic Northern species. It is also a home to the large population of elephants and supports eight rhino sanctuaries. The region is also safe haven to endangered Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, Lelwel hartebeest, and wild dogs
Laikipia has become a focus for many conservation efforts, and some ranches have become breeding sanctuaries for Rhinoceros. On Ol Pejeta, a refuge for Chimpanzees rescued from the pet and bush meat trade has been established. Visiting a private ranch in this region is an ideal way of exploring the Kenyan wilderness while getting off the well beaten paths of the National Parks.
Laikipia’s biodiversity is unique, and entirely sustained by the Laikipia community, consisting of local community initiatives, private ranches, small scale farmers, cooperatives and tourism ventures.
The real attraction of Laikipia is a wonderful sense of freedom. Not just the freedom of wide open spaces, but freedom of choice. Staying on a private ranch gives a wide range of options for both activities and relaxation. Game viewing tends to be more intimate and adventurous. The emphasis here is on personal services, backed up by excellent local knowledge and guiding. As a personal guest, there is a chance to set your own schedules, explore at your own pace, and discover the wild in your own way.
Laikipia has emerged as a model that continues to play a defining role in community-based conservation success. The remarkable integrity of the Laikipia ecosystem has fostered the development of world class tourism - both community driven and privately owned. There are over 40 tourism operators active in Laikipia, ranging from small lodges and tented camps to ranch houses and adventure based operators specialising in walking, camel and horse safaris. Typically Laikipia’s tourism facilities are low impact (just 14 beds), high value and highly creative. Together, they offer over 50 different wilderness-based activities.
This area of wilderness is a sprawling, rather loosely defined area, accessible by road from Nanyuki, Baringo, Eldoret or Isiolo. It is important to remember that many of the ranches, and the roads therein, are privately owned. Many ranches and sanctuaries have their own airstrips, which can be used by charter aircraft.