Laikipia is a massive region consisting of private ranches, communal gazing areas and game reserves forming an area larger than any national park in the country. In general, a stay in Laikipia is more about the stunning scenery, cultural experiences and activities, but areas such as the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Ol Pejeta and Solio still offer excellent game-viewing. In fact, these areas are some of the most reliable in all of Africa to see not only see rhino, but also to get an in-depth look at conservation work in action.
Activities include camelback safaris and horse riding, quad biking, tubing, bi-planes, walking safaris, fly camping, mountain biking, fishing and participating in conservation projects such as Grevy’s zebra or rhino research in Lewa or the Laikpia Predator Project. Cultural experiences are extremely special, and you can visit villages and schools, special community projects or simply chat with the camp owners and learn from them directly. All these activities make the area great for families and a perfect addition to days of game viewing in the Mara.
The area is known for its family-run properties, owned by former ranching families (some of whom actively participate in the daily guest experience) with generations of history in Kenya who have now put their energy into conservation and combating poaching. You get the sense you are staying in someone’s home and the experience feels hosted and extra special.
Finally, because these are privately-owned properties, you are not subject to the restrictions of the national parks, so can enjoy a more flexible safari; stay out late on a night drive, drive off-road to get the perfect picture, or take a hike up to a camp’s ‘Star Beds’ for a night under the African Sky.
Best time to visit the Laikipia Plateau
Laikipia Plateau experiences two dry and two rainy seasons. Temperatures vary, but with daytime highs of 22°C in the cooler seasons and 32°C in the hotter months, conditions are comfortable for year-round visits. Generally, early mornings and evenings are cool, so we would advise packing a fleece or a jumper… although most of the lodges will have extra blankets, a piping hot chocolate and a roaring fire to make you all that more comfortable!
January to March is the hottest and driest season in the year. During these months, water sources can be quite limited, especially in remote locations like many of the lodges. As a result, wildlife usually gathers around the last remaining waterholes or sources, which can be a blessing for game viewing!
May and April bring the arrival of the long rains. During these months, water sources and wetlands disperse along the plateau and as a result, bring out an abundance of animals. However, because of these heavy rains, many of the safari activities that are usually offered across Laikpia Plateau (bush walks, horse and camel rides, hiking etc.) are not available and as a result, the majority of the lodges are closed.
The long and dry season occurs from July to October, and as a result, is the most popular time of the year to travel. During these months, temperatures are pleasant in the day but nights are a little on the cool side, especially as most of the lodges sit at the top of the plateau. This is nothing to be worried about though, as the majority of lodges have roaring fireplaces, blankets for night drives and even leave a hot water bottle in your bed to warm it up when you tuck in at night!
The months of November and December bring in the second rainy season, which is characterised by short and heavy showers, usually in the afternoon. These months are particularly great for bird lovers, as a range of migratory species arrive at Laikipia from as far as Europe and Russia. Although the rains make the plateau lusher, be aware that some of the roads become muddy. This may hinder the safari activities, as pathways for walking safaris may become too slippery, or camel and horseback safaris may be unavailable, subject to weather conditions.