Laikipia is a vast expanse of wild and rugged country in the central highlands of Kenya - running from the foot of Mt Kenya in the East to the rim of the Rift Valley in the west. Laikipia itself lies outside the jurisdiction of National Parks, and is somewhere to get out of a vehicle and embrace a completely different kind of safari.
The eastern escarpment of the Rift Valley, known as the Laikipia Plateau, is divided into a patchwork of enormous ranches and small subsistence farms. Over the years, and with cooperation from their owners, these farms have been transformed into game reserves and now contain some of the most exclusive and luxurious lodges in this remote and still relatively untouched part of Kenya. Many of the lodges are owner-run by families who have grown up in the area and transformed their beautiful homes into boutique lodges to welcome guests, thus providing a real 'home from home' kind of stay.
There are activities galore in Laikipia, from traditional game drives or tracking game on foot to horse or camel riding safaris accessing remote areas that vehicles cannot get to. In addition, there are quad bikes, mountain bikes, inflatable tubes for drifting down rivers, and fly camping. Visiting local Samburu markets and manyattas (local farm areas) and getting involved with the local culture is also highly recommended.
The Laikipia terrain is wonderfully varied, with the escarpment giving way to wooded acacia gorges, tangled riverine thickets, cedar forests and kopjes. These plains have historically been used for low intensity cattle grazing, and so remain the perfect habitat for big game as well. In fact, overall Laikipia now has the second highest wildlife density of any region in the country bar the Masai Mara. The plateau itself has a considerable animal population and is one of the last refuges of the endangered black rhino. As well as having the largest elephant population outside of Kenya's national parks and reserves you can also see Grevy zebras, impala, gazelle, lion, leopard, buffalo, and wild dog.
We at Original Travel are huge fans of this area and feel that a safari to Kenya would not be complete without a few days spent in this area. In fact, due to the sheer variety of places to stay and activities on offer, the area works well for those looking to spend up to a week or two in Kenya and without necessarily moving around too much. Have a look at our safari houses section and rent a private house in the bush for a week or two and pack it with family and friends. This also combines well with a private beach house on the coast.