Safarilink operates two daily scheduled flights to Nanyuki, Lewa and Samburu. These flights allow passengers access to all the conservancies in the Laikipia region, and to the trio of northern reserves: Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs.
Nanyuki is both the gateway to the exciting region of Laikipia, and a popular town in its own right. This booming town has shed its wide west reputation and is attracting a steady flow of Nairobeans to up-sticks and move. It now has a selection of restaurants, coffee bars and swimming pools, and a range of places to stay, from conferencing hotels to quirky lodges to luxurious safari camps – most of which have lovely views of nearby Mt Kenya.
Laikipia, accessible from Nanyuki, is one of Kenya’s best-kept secrets. The region has no national parks, but a proliferation of conservancies, sanctuaries, game ranches and conservation initiatives. Laikipia Wildlife Forum, established in 1992, is dedicated to preserving and managing wildlife populations and wilderness habitats in Laikipia. Mpala Research Centre studies and monitors Laikipia’s environment and wildlife, helping ensure its people and wildlife coexist in harmony.
Laikipia – or the Ewaso ecosystem – is home to the highest populations of endangered species in Kenya. The eight protected rhino sanctuaries together hold over half of Kenya’s black rhino population; the region also has the second largest elephant population in Kenya. Laikipia is a haven for many endangered species including Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and Lelwel hartebeest, and has a significant number of predators including all the big cats, and wild dogs.
Many of the safari camps in the region are as opulent as you’ll find anywhere, and offer top-end game viewing and bird watching. However, what makes this area truly unique is the incredible range of activities available. Quad biking and buggy driving make for an adventurous way to traverse the rocky terrain. Horse riding and camel safaris allow riders to get close to wildlife. Rafting and rock-jumping on the Ewaso Ngiro River are only for the daring. Mountain biking and trekking appeal to the fit. And on Mt Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa, visitors can mountain-climb, trek and fish in the lakes, or take scenic flights over the peaks.
Annual events in the area – all in aid of conservation – are as appealing to thrill-seekers as any of these activities. Held in February, the 10-4 mountain bike challenge is a demanding race down Mt Kenya, from 10,000 to 4,000 feet. The rhino charge, in May, is an off-road motorsport competition in which drivers and their teams plough up cliffs and down ravines to cover the shortest distance between 13 checkpoints. The Lewa Marathon, in June, pits amateur runners against Kenya’s top athletes in a marathon at high-altitude across demanding terrain surrounded by wildlife. All are open to visitors although, due to their huge popularity, booking early is a necessity.