Laikipia County

Discover Laikipia County

View of the Laikipia Plains from Loisaba Conservancy.  Photo Courtesy Gamewatchers Safaris
Laikipia Plains from Loisaba Conservancy. Image Courtesy of Gamewatchers

Brief Overview of Laikipia County

Occupying 9,462 km2 in the west-central part of Kenya and just about 130 kms across east to west and about the same distance from north to south, Laikipia County is dominated by the Laikipia Plateau which covers much of its western and southern parts. The Plateau is rather featureless, level to gently sloping, with vast expanses of grass and bushlands plains at elevations of 1,700 to 1,800 metres, that only tilts upwards in the south-eastern part to about 2,000 metres near the foothills of Aberdare Ranges. It is dissected by two principal streams – Ewaso Ngiro and Ewaso Narok – both with their headwaters in the Aberdares. North to southwest, it lies between the hillocks of Marmanet Forest and Mount Kenya. The equator crosses through the southern area along its primary towns of Nyahururu and Nanyuki. Thus, latitude of Laikipia County is near 0 degrees.

The plains of Laikipia County are, without a doubt, one of the most acclaimed wildlife destinations in Kenya, and the abundance of wildlife is second only to that of Masai Mara National Reserve. It does, however, hold one big advantage over the Mara, that it has less constraints and trippers can enjoy more activities including horseback and camel safaris. Against the backdrop of Mount Kenya, its thrills are almost a guaranteed success, yet, in addition, it retains a beyond-money aura of the wild untamed Africa enjoyed in the comfort of the epochal lodges. Of a more recent development, Laikipia has been a driving force in the conservation of wildlife and their habitats in Kenya. Nowhere is this triumph easier demonstrable than on the 3,785 km2 wilderness landscape covered by a patchwork of successful private wildlife sanctuaries, conservancies and ranches.

Laikipia County forms part of the 56,000 km2 Ewaso Ecosystem: Kenya’s most extensive wildlife haven. It’s one of few places in Kenya where people on private and communal lands have deliberately consolidated habitats in an earnest bid to conserve biodiversity, while working smart to sustainably use these natural resources for the benefit of all. The principal lines of communication in Laikipia County are A2 Nairobi-Isiolo Road and B5 Nyeri-Nyahururu Road, traversing its outer southern half . The A2, extending from the Tanzanian border upto the Ethiopian border, travels northeast along the eastern boundary through Naro Moru, Nanyuki and Timau. The B5 travels northwest from Nyeri, stitching into the edges Lakipia, back to Nyeri, into Laikipia again, then through the edges of Nyandarua before finally returning to Laikipia near Nyahururu Town. The two roads from a near perfect V shape from Nyeri, that holds Laikipia in the middle.

Salient Features of Laikipia County

  • County Number 31
  • Area – 9462 km2
  • Altitude – 5577 ft. (1700 ms)
  • Major Towns – Nyahururu, Nanyuki, Rumuruti
  • Borders – Samburu, Isiolo, Meru, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Baringo, Nakuru

Brief History of Laikipia County

The earliest inhabitants of Laikipia County are widely thought to be lost tribe of the Ndorobo hunter-gatherers from Mokogodo Forest, who were displaced by the Maasai and absorbed into larger groups like Agikuyu. During the late 19th Century, the Maasai also lost most of the plains to the colonial government and the Maasai exodus of 1912 left very few Maasai speaking pastrolists in Laikipia. According to historic documents, the last group of the Maasai were to pushed to peripheral areas like Mukogodo Forest by colonial administrators in the 1930’s.

View of the beautiful Laikipia Plains.  Photo Courtesy of Nation MG
View of the prominent Laikipia Plains. Image Courtesy of Nation Media.

Places of Interest in Laikipia County

1. Solio Game Reserve

More popular as Solio Ranch, the 300 km2 privately-run Solio Game Reserve began in 1970 by Courtland Parfet is notable as the first conservancy in Kenya dedicated to the preservation of the endangered rhinos. Up until now, it is still an indispensable forte in many rhino conservation projects, and its success in breeding rhinos and providing a safe habitat for them to thrive is a highlight of Kenya’s conservation efforts. Callers to the inter-territorial Solio Ranch (shared by Nyeri and Laikipia Counties) can enjoy uninterrupted open-top game views of its prolific wildlife, with the option of self drive or guided tours. “The wildlife experience at Solio is intense and exclusive with 19,000 acres of conservancy surrounded by 45,000 acres of ranch and just one lodge” – Safari Collection. A trip through the elaborate network of roads around Solio Ranch would not be complete without visiting the rhino sanctuary and the bespoke Solio Lodge. The main gate is situated 22 kms from Nyeri along the B5 Nyeri to Nyahururu Road.

2. Aberdare Range

The scenically-splendid drive from Nyeri to Nyahururu is one of quickest way to apprehend how beautiful Kenya is, particularly as you go past the magnificent views of the Aberdare Range that forms part of the 766 km2 Aberdare National Park. The section of road between Mweiga Town and Maili Saba Center offers a poignant displays of Kenya’s ecological gamut, as the road appears to magically cuts across two divergent ecosystems. On one side, the verdant thickly-wooded Aberdare Forest, with its peaks standing sentinel, is a cornucopia of beauty and fertility. On the other side, the sun-beaten savanna grasslands of Laikipia Plains resolutely marches into the horizon. The intrepid with a few hours to spare may find a detour through Aberdares National Park a great experience, using either Kiandongoro Gate near Nyeri, or Ruhuruini Gate near Mweiga, then exiting the park at Wanderis Gate near Ndaragwa. This, of course, requires 4-wheel-drive and a watch for weather. The park contains the famed Ark and Treetops Lodges.

Aberdare National Park – Kenya Wildlife Service

3. Thomson’s Falls

104 kms from Nyeri along the B5 Nyeri-Nyahururu Road you reach Nyahururu Town, located on the southwestern corner Laikipia County and just north of the Aberdare National Park. Its proximity to Aberdares and the volcanic footridges that more or less radiate out from the uplift along the Great Rift Valley makes Nyahururu the highest (and coldest) area in the county. Shortly before arriving at the main town sits one the fine launches of Laikipia, simply known locally as Ndurumo. The 100-feet sheer drop of Thomson’s Falls (or Ewaso Narok Falls) over a ledge of the Thomson’s Fall phonolite is a thing of beauty, and one of the most spectacular and easily accessible waterfalls in Kenya. It is especially worth a visit soon after the rains, in May or November. Thomson’s Fall is named after the region’s first European explorer, geologist and naturalist Joseph Thomson who arrived in Kenya in 1883. It occurs along Ewaso Narok River that collects many tributaries on the way to Rumuruti where it loses its identity in the Ewaso Narok Swamp. A small cover fee, payable via Mpesa, is charged at the entrance. At the site, there are a few walking trails to the bottom of the falls and a handful of vantage points along a secured paved area. Other amenities include plenty of dukas and curio shops. From Nakuru, Nyahururu is 63 kms away along the B5 Nakuru-Nyahururu Road that goes over the eastern shoulder of the Rift Valley.

Spatial Location of Thomson's Falls in Laikipia County
Spatial Location of Thomson’s Falls in Laikipia County

4. Panari Resort, Nyahururu

The nature-centric 98-rooms Panari Resort, which overlooks the Ewaso Nyiro, Marmanet Forest and pulchritudinous steep sided gorge where Thomson’s Falls cascades over, is among the latest establishments in the fast-growing dormitory area of Nyahururu Town. Set on 20-acres, much of which is overlain by ancient indigenous trees and patches of excellent lawns, Panari Resort is held in high regard by both business and leisure travellers – with all the modern amenities to suit both kinds of travellers. This has earned it a repute as one of the most sought after weekend lairs. Some of the highlights include: the Eucalyptus Spa, steam and sauna; and wondrous outdoor areas overlooking Thomson’s Falls. Panari Resort is also located within easy reach of wildlife conservancies, Lake Ol Bolossat, Marmanet Forest, Dundori Forest and the Aderdare National Park.

5. Nyahururu Golf Club

It’s easy to argue that the best golf courses in Kenya are found in Nairobi and its environs, and one would be correct considering the sheer number of courses in that region. Around the country, golf has a become a byword for the blossoming middle-class in Kenya, with many long in the tooth courses started in colonial years receiving substantial revamping, even complete overhauls, to cater on a professional standard for the avid golfers. The high altitude Nyahururu Golf Club course, just 2 kms outside the main township along the C77 Nyahururu-Maralal Road, is one of the better nine hole courses in the country. It is a fairly capacious course on the edge of Marmanet Forest played 6,570 yards for men and 5,937 yards for women, with a par of 72. In 2016 the Nation Media Group, the largest independent media house in East Africa, supported the inaugural Nation Classic Golf Series, bolstering the popularity of the club which also host tournaments like Kenya Golf Union Series and Smirnoff Cup. The last few years have been anything but great for golfers in Kenya, with a healthy catalog of well maintained golf courses with cheaper rates and attractive reciprocating terms. The prosperity of Nyahururu Golf Club in meeting the needs of the country’s growing craze for golf could only get better if, as enthusiasts hope, it continually develops the facilities. The club was officially inaugurated in November of 1936.

6. Marmanet Forest Reserve

Nyahururu Town is bound to the west by Marmanet Forest, part of an ancient migration corridor linked to Laikipia ranches, Rumuruti and Lariak Forests. Much of the greater part of the land around Nyahururu and its environs is laid out in farms, part of which were annexed from this forest over-particularly in the Moi Era for settlement. Following these earlier settlement, it was reduced to about 30 km2 (by 1990), and by 2010 it has lost an additional 12 km2 of forest cover. The anthropogenic pressure on Marmanet Forest is cosmic. An estimated 530,000 households living within a radius of 5 kms from Rumuruti, Marmanet and Lariak Forests depend directly on forest cultivation, collection of fuel wood, herbal medicine, among other economic gains. Shortly after leaving Nyahururu Town en route Rumuruti along C77 Nyahururu-Rumuruti-Maralal Road, the bald-pated hills of Marmanet Forest, appearing smooth in texture and brown in colour, specked with the orange colour of hewn rocks, are a striking landscape (seen to the east) against the fast-descending road with the wide-angled views of Laikipia Plains unfolding squarely ahead. Motorists along this route should take caution of the precariously set up road bumps especially near town centers.

7. Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy

Just about 10 kms from Nyahururu via the C77 Nyahururu-Rumuruti-Maralal Road you reach the turnoff to Maili Saba, and in 48 kms along this road beyond Gatero, Maili Saba and Kinamba Shopping Centers you’ll arrive at the 100,000-acres Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy. In the past year, Laikipia Government laid the first bitumen surface on this entire stretch of road as well as on the connecting Kinamba-Sipili-Muhotetu Junction (36 kms): a previously hard to reach back of beyond backwoods. This road travels more or less along the western boundary of Laikipia with Baringo County through farmlands of mostly maize, wheat and hay interspersed with patches of bushland, and far between seemingly deserted shopping centers that are no more than a row of dukas. Described as ‘a valley of unbelievable charm’, Ol Ari Nyiro is best known for its wondrous landscape and as the home of Kuki Gallman – the Italian-born Kenyan author and penman of the 1991 bestseller I Dreamed of Africa. Despite its generous size, it lacks very little in dramatic scenery notably of the Mukutan Gorge, describes by Professor Truman Young as “the most varied botanically non-forested location in Kenya.”

The northwestern corner of Laikipia County, where Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy is set, takes in small parts of the Rift Valley Escarpment. The physiography here is consisted of rugged, steep rough broken areas, that lead up to the magnificent Mukutan Gorge curved along the boundary with Baringo County. Then, there’s Enghelesha Forest and Tugen Hills easily sighted from here; close to 62 man-made lakes; Mukutan River and several some thermal hot-springs. Originally a working cattle ranch, Ol Ari Nyiro was reestablished as a nature conservancy thanks to the doughty and dedicated efforts of its conservationist founder Kuki Gallmann. Beside its wildlife, Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy supports 471 identified species of birds and 2350 species of plants. Mukutan Retreat is its anchor lodge. ‘Perched on the edge of Mukutan Gorge which plunges deep into valleys filled with palms, vines, orchids, dotted with waterfalls and hot springs, it feels as far away from the rest of the world as it gets, yet each detail and desire is carefully attended to in 4 large cottages crafted from local stone and sustainably collected woods and furnished with tasteful textiles and antiques from around the world.’

Spatial Location of Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy in Laikipia County
Spatial Location of Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy in Laikipia County

8. Kaptuya Conservancy

This is situated 10 kms east of Ruko, along the boundary with Laikipia in Churo Ward of Tiaty. Kaptuya Conservancy is, despite the sweltering heat, a beautiful and colourful boonies. On the Laikipia side, it is contiguous with the wildlife rich grasslands between Ol Ari Nyiro and Mugie Wildlife Conservancies. The 80 km2 Kaptuya Conservancy, on the upper slopes of the Laikipia Escarpment (the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley), is home to a plethora of wonderful vistas epitomized by the impressive Mukutan Gorge. Similar to Ruko, Kaptuya is not well developed. Both lack reliable access routes and accommodation. They have abundant game but because of scant parkways, it is a spine-rattling excursion. Nevertheless, they offer adventures into an unusual flora. It is necessary to be self-sufficient especially at Kaptuya, and is also wise to link-up with the warden.

9. Rumuruti Livestock Market

26 kms from Nyahururu along the C77 Nyahururu-Rumuruti-Maralal Road you pass Muhotetu-Ngumo-Karaba-Sipili Road, and 18 kms thereafter you arrive at Rumuruti Town. Upgraded to status of County Headquarter in 2013, this is the fastest-growing towns in the county. If your visit to Laikipia County coincides with a Thursday and along the C77, this little town holds an unusual attraction. “Held every Thursday a couple of hundred metres north of the town, Rumuruti Livestock Market attracts livestock sellers from as far as Turkana and Samburu, and buyers from as far as Meru and even Somalia. This is the biggest and best-planned market in Laikipia, and definitely one of it’s unique attractions, a place where you can see business conducted, Kenyan style” – Clicking with Purpose. On average, 500 cattle and 1,200 sheep and goats are sold at the auction every Thursday. This trade has an estimated value of Sh. 30 million. Rumuruti-based Ngare Narok Meat Industries Limited is set to embark on an ambitious Sh. 200 million expansion project that will also see the creation of many opportunities. From Rumuruti, the untravelled C76 Rumuruti-Nanyuki Road (murram road) swings southeast then east before arriving at Nanyuki Town 82 kms away. The C77 keeps north through Kisima to Maralal, in Samburu County, 116 kms away.

10. Laikipia Plateau

From Nyahururu Town, the footridges (and terrain) generally slope downwards to the north and east, and merges into the Laikipia Plateau close to Rumuruti Town. From here, the Laikipia Plateau, bordered west by the Great Rift Valley, extends as a near levelled grassland, covering much of the eastern and southern parts of Laikipia County. It was built up from several large sheets of lava flows extending westwards, over a distance of 9,000 km2, to as far as the foothills of Mount Kenya. “The Plateau is a rather featureless nearly level to gently sloping or undulating expanse of grassy-bushland plains at elevations of 1,700 to 1,800 metres, with acacia-thicket covered hills from the Rift Valley up to the slopes of Mount Kenya”. Sometimes dubbed as Laikipia Plains, this distinguished plain is partially occupied by the lofty patchwork of privately owned conservancies. The conservancies are all administered under the mutually agreed Laikipia Wildlife Forum, whose overarching mission and goal is to conserve Laikipia’s wildlife, the ecosystems and to improve the lives of the communities in Laikipia County. Laikipia Plateau has abundant wildlife and is a refuge for the rare Black Rhinos.

11. Ewaso Narok Wetland

The Ewaso Narok Wetland, or Ewaso Narok Swamp, is formed along the Ewaso Narok River (a tributary of Ewaso Nyiro River) and stretches 25 kms from near Rumuruti Town. Rising in the Aberdare Range, the Ewaso Narok River descend steeply northeastwards to the high plateau and then spreads its waters over the 50,000-hectares expanse of the wetland. “Ewaso Narok Swamp has a very rich species diversity of over 170 bird species, resident and migrant, over 100 plant species and it also provides an important dryland refuge for both domestic and wild animals. The swamp also provides socio-economic products such as plant matter for building material. The result of its land use transformation has been ecosystem alteration, habitat modification and of destruction both for wetland and rangeland species”. The rivers in Laikipia County flow largely to the north. Both Ewaso Narok and Ewaso Ngiro Rivers flow across the Laikipia Plateau in the central part of the county. Nanyuki and Engare Ondare Rivers head on the slopes of Mt. Kenya and flow northward in the eastern part of Laikipia. Engare Ondare River forms the east boundary. All these rivers eventually flow into one, the Ewaso Ngiro, outside of Laikipia and, it in turn empties into Lorian Swamp.

Spatial Location of Ewaso Narok Wetland in Laikipia County
Spatial Location of Ewaso Narok Wetland in Laikipia County

12. Sosian Ranch

15 kms northeast and east of Rumuruti Town sits the expansive 24,000-acres of Sosian Ranch, founded in 1920 by Major Gerald Edwards to combine ranching and wildlife tourism. “Today the original ranch house is now the centre piece of Sosian Lodge, made up of a large sitting room, dining room, bar and billiards room, with an expansive wrap around veranda, offering undisturbed views of the bush beyond. The bedrooms (eight in total) are spaced out across the lodge gardens” – Sosian Ranch. The swimming pool is a popular place at Sosian and is the ideal way to cool off after a long and dusty game drive, trekking, camel safaris, animal tracking, fly camping, fishing excursions, ranching and cultural tours to nearby villages. Sosian has varying landscapes and diversified habitats, where you can expect to see elephant, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, zebra, antelope, lion, leopard and warthog to name a few. There is also over 350 species of birds at Sosian. It has over five decades heritage of luxury safaris and as a prospering cattle ranch, all done in the prepossessing landscapes with pleasing panoramas. Over and above its ranching and wildlife conservations, it is actively involved in well-being community projects centered on wildlife, healthcare, and education.

13. Ol Maisor Ranch

The 30,000-acres family-run operating cattle and camel Ol Maisor Ranch sits north of Sosian Ranch along the C77 Rumuruti-Maralal Road. It is situated 29 kms northeast of Rumuruti Town, and using a 4×4 is advisable to navigate the off-road section especially during the rain seasons. Ol Maisor is now run by the third generation of the Evans family and it combines ranching with wilderness safaris. Unique to the ranch are the wilderness camel safaris and their camel polo derby – a first of kind in Kenya – which despite its rarity is an entertaining and memorable encounter. For the more adventurous intrepid, there are long-distance camel walks out to Suguta Valley, Lake Bogoria and Samburu. What’s more, the camel safaris and camping rates at Ol Maisor Ranch are impressively fair and offer the traveller an excursion into the wilderness of Laikipia plains. There are over 80 recorded mammal species roaming Ol Maisor which provides plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. Accommodation is available at Bobong Campsite overlooking Ewaso Narok Wetland and Laikipia Plateau. Ol Maisor Ranch gained unwelcome notoriety when herders invaded it in 2017 killing one worker but, “calm has returned to ranches in the county a year after a series of invasions by illegal herders left several people dead and livestock stolen.” NMG

14. Mugie Ranch

The 49 km2 family-run Mugie Ranch, 62 kms north of Rumuruti at the north-eastern boundary of Laikipia County, was begun by the Hahn’s family who have worked tirelessly to effectuate innovative projects to manage both wildlife and livestock in their community for the past 40 years.  Towards this, Mugie Ranch sets aside 22,000-acres for wildlife conservation, as Mugie Conservancy, which is teemed with wildlife not least of the critically endangered Grevys zebra and Jacksons Hartebeests. Holiday-makers at Mugie Ranch are hosted at Ekorian Mugie Camp comprised of 6 spacious safari-style chalets, or at the Mutamaiyu House perched on a hilltop with views of the golden savanna. There is plenty to do while enjoying a safari vacation at Mugie Conservancy including a round of golf at the Mugie Golf Course, lazing around Mugie Dam that is never without plenty of wildlife. Mugie Ranch also admits day-trippers who can enjoy these facilities and visit the Mugie Conservancy. “The Mugie Annual Rangeland and Pastrolist Show within the Mugie Conservancy” is a celebration of the cultural diversity found in Laikipia County. It includes livestock competitions, braai and traditional dances. It was started with the aim of sharing techniques in animal husbandry and range management with their neighbouring pastoralist groups.

15. Loisaba Conservancy

The 56 km2 privately-run Loisaba Conservancy is adjacent to Mugie Ranch on the southeastern side and it straddles the northwest notched corner of Laikipia with Samburu and Isiolo Counties. Loisaba is distinguished for its bounteous concentration of elephants as well as other wildlife, and since the 1920’s it has sought to protect and enhance their habitat. For tourism, Loisaba has the 12-tents Loisaba Tented Camp overlooking Mount Kenya, Loisaba Starbeds and Acacia Campsite. “Perched on the edge of an escarpment, Loisaba Tented Camp is designed to make the most of the unobstructed views of the mottled Laikipia landscape up to Mount Kenya. All the 12 detached camps and main areas enjoy the breathtaking vantage vista over the wide panorama”. Highlights at Loisaba include walking, open-top and camel safari. It is located 58 kms northwest of Rumuruti along the C77 Rumuruti-Maralal Road, and Kinamba to Sosian Road.

Spatial Location of Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia County
Spatial Location of Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia County

16. Ol Malo Sabuk Ranch

Almost completely surrounded by Loisaba Conservancy, with the Isiolo County border flanking its eastern marches, the 5,000-acres family-run Ol Malo Sabuk Ranch carries the heritage of three generations of the Francombe’s family, who settled in Laikipia eager to experience Magical Kenya. Traversed by the Ewaso Nyiro River and looking-out to the spectacular plains of Samburu to the north, this offers a great safari experience. As with many ranches and conservancies of Laikipia, Ol Malo Sabuk is committed to improving their neighboring Samburu Community, through the Samburu Trust, to engender useful conservation and welfare projects. The Ol Malo Lodge, built in the quintessentially Laikipia safari clifftop novelty, is the anchor lodge. There’s also the six-rooms Ol Malo House which offers a large and beautiful hideout, specially suitable for group-holidays.

17. Naibunga Conservancy

The 477 km2 Naibunga Conservancy is comprised of 9 Maasai group ranches: Koija, Kijabe, Tiamamut, Ilmotiok, Nkiloriti, Munishoi, Musul, Morupusi and Ilpolei, and adjoins Loisaba on the western border and is flanked by Mukogodo Forest to the east. Inaugurated in 1995, to set a balance between cattle grazing and wildlife, the area is a mix of bush and grassland with a contrasting riverine vegetal profile along Ewaso Nyiro River. Key wildlife species within Naibunga Conservancy embraces – elephant, common and Grevy’s zebra, Grant’s gazelle, gerenuk, eland, greater and lesser kudu, baboon, spotted and striped hyenas, leopard, lions, wild dog, cheetah, ostrich; with hippos and crocodile along the Ewaso Nyiro. Its official headquarters was began in 2015 and its anchor lodge is the Ol Gaboli Lodge. Travellers can choose to stay at Koija Star Beds in Loisaba Ranch, Lewaso Cottages, or Sanctuary at Ol Lentille. One of the main highlight at Naibunga is the Twala Cultural Centre which introduces cultural buffs to the Maasai lifestyle, notably of their bead works. The project employs close to 250 local Maasai women earnestly producing the intricate Maasai art, souvenirs, craft and jewelry. It is easier to approach Naibunga Conservancy from Nanyuki, heading north along Nanyuki-Doldol Road through Ilpolei Town, about 72 kms.

18. Oldonyiro Conservancy

Formerly known as the Mpus Kutuk Conservancy, the mega 111 km2 Oldonyiro Conservancy, which was established in 2007, covers the entire Oldonyiro Ward serially made up of four locations bordering Isiolo and Samburu Counties. It is set on the northern tip of Laikipia County and is almost completely surrounded by several community conservancies, excepting its western side, and flanked by River Ewaso Nyiro. It is contiguous with Ol Lentille Conservancy on the eastern side. Over the past few years, it has struggled with spells of insecurity, elephant poaching and its atrophied rangelands.  It’s hoped that the establishment of the Conservancy will enable communities to spearhead dialogue and foster tourism.

19. Ol Lentille Conservancy

The northeast part of Laikipia County beyond Laikipia Plateau is dominated by a rolling to hilly topography. This hilly area, running north-south just a few kms inside of the western boundary, includes Mukogodo Forest, Lolldaiga Hills and some of the adjacent rolling backwood. The elevation in this area falls generally between 1,600 to 1,800 metres, but dips down to around 1,000 metres in the northeast frontier of the county where the Engare Ondare River flows out of Laikipia. The 90,000-acres Ol Lentille Conservancy is located at the northern most part of this hilly country and comprised of Ol Lentille Ranch, in Isiolo County, and the Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, in Laikipia County. Both offer serenity and exclusivity on unprecedented levels. The conservancy itself is comprised of 3 group ranches: Kijabe Ranch, Nkiloriti Group Ranch and Narupa Communal Conservancy, with abounding wildlife, fine vistas of Lolldaiga Hills, Mukogodo Forest and Mount Kenya. Callers to Ol Lentille Conservancy (and the Sanctaury at Ol Lentille) can choose to stay at any of its four beautifully-appointed African inspired houses – Eyrie House, Chief’s House, Sultan’s House and Colonel’s House. Safaris can be done on foot, on bike, camel, open-top and air excursion which can be easily combined with passages into Samburu and Maasai Villages.

20. Tandala Ranch

The budget-friendly Tandala Ranch was opened in 2016 and is comprised of six comfortable lodges and a camping site. It is situated alongside the splendorous Mokogodo Forest in the northeast area just below Ol Lentille Conservancy, and, even though ways off the beaten track, boasts modern amenities of civilization including electric light, private bathrooms, lounge and a well-stocked bar. It is located 58 kms north Nanyuki near Doldol via a back-country road that runs through the ever-changing pageant of the Laikipia Plains. The modest, family-run, Tandala Ranch offers its guests a chance to soak-up the beauty of Laikipia Plains at a reasonable cost in stark-contrast to most of the middle-upper budget safari camps in the area. The ace-in-the-hole at Tandala Ranch is the plenitude of wildlife in and around the ranch.  Its owners, who double as the host, go an extra mile to guarantee their guests make the best of their holiday by suggesting adventures and building an action-packed itinerary.  Tandala is also a birding site with a hatful of bird species. Aside from the spacious lodges, the ‘Nyumbu nyama-choma gazebo’ is a much-liked section on the ranch. There is also an art gallery and a traditional African Village all set within their 15 hectares property.

Spatial Location of Tandala Ranch in Laikipia County
Spatial Location of Tandala Ranch in Laikipia County

21. Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy

Some of Laikipia’s greatest attraction today are found in the middle of Laikipia Plateau in award-winning safari properties. They are unique in that they cater, luxuriously, for the wealthy travellers. The 58,000-acres privately-run Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy, set dead-center on the plateau (with Sosian Ranch to the west, Ol Lentille Conservancy to the north, Mukogodo Forest and Il Ngwesi to the east, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy to the south) is hailed as one of the most remarkable private wildlife conservancies in Africa, epitomizing Laikipia as the most enliven wilderness in Kenya. Booked onliest by families and friends with deep pockets, it offers a wildlife experience on fleek perhaps like no other. The lodge and house are set on the side of an isolated hillock, above mile upon mile of savanna, and boasts of a paradisal pool, a chain of ornamental lakes, riverine drifts of Ewaso Nyiro River, and such facilities as riding, air safaris to Suguta Valley and superb garden greens. The top of the hill is an easy-to-reach beyond-money vantage point to sight the dramatic scenery interspersed with wondrous kopjes, which is easily combined with look-sees of its private animal orphanage (hosting the only bear in Kenya), walking with baboons tour, touring the Twala Cultural Centre and open-top game drive. Ol Jogi is rented on exclusive terms and accommodates a maximum of 14 guests. It’s found about 48 kms north of Nanyuki via Nanyuki-Ol Jogi Road. It is also reachable via small charter planes.

Experiential Video of Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy. Published by Ol Jogi

22. Mpala Ranch

Mpala Ranch is situated on the southwestern limits of the Ol Jogi Conservancy. Started in 1952 by Sam Small, and reestablished in 1989 as the Mpala Wildlife Foundation and Mpala Research Trust, this 48,000-acres research epicenter is typified by vast savanna cut in by acacia, and the dense is commiphora wait-a-bit of thorn scrub interspersed with groves of huge ancient trees. Mpala Ranch, a “living laboratory where experiments and answers to pressing wildlife issues and conservation are addressed”, is especially popular with researchers who use the land and its resources to conduct research on everything from parasites to elephants. It is strongly committed to using the research findings to benefit the surrounding conservancies, Kenya and beyond.  Mpala Ranch is home to nearly 7,000 elephants and a ragbag of other species. It’s found 43 kms from Nanyuki. 

23. Enasoit Game Sanctuary

The 4,500-acres Enasoit Game Sanctuary is situated 9 kms southeast of Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy. It has delightful vistas of the rippling Lolldaiga Hills and the majestic Mount Kenya, and enjoys gobs of the magic of this enliven Laikipia wilderness. It welcomes up to 16 guests, seeking a unique and exclusive safari experience, on an exclusive term basis, and living is offered in their beautifully appointed luxury camp with six double (twin) en-suite tented cottages which overlook an engaging wildlife watering-hole. All their cottages have access the infinity-style pool overlooking the knock-out landscape. Unique to the Enasoit Game Sanctuary is “the thinking man’s safari” which is focused on providing a different but enriching safari experience, by adding an intellectual dimension to the wildlife and nature experience of Laikipia. It includes guided day and night game-walks, animal tracking, explorations to look for the resident lions, bush dining and sun-downer drinks; all combined in a seamless excursion aiming to provide a memorable lens to eye-shot the landscape and sight the wildlife. The easiest way to reach Enasoit is by air with two main options: charter flight by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft to Enasoit’s own air strip with a 5 minute drive into Enasoit Camp, or daily schedule flights from Nairobi to Nanyuki followed by a 1 hour road transfer to Enasoit. It’s located 38 kms north of Nanyuki Town.

24. El Karama Ranch

Originally known as Nyamuluki Ranch, the 14,000-acres family-run El Karama Ranch (ranching and wildlife sanctuary) is one of the leading ranches in Kenya, breeding close to 200 Sahiwal Bulls and using a holistic approach that restores, protects the environment both for their livestock and for the enormous wildlife resources that exist within its acreage.  At the heart of El Karama is the pretty El Karama Ecolodge comprised of 6-stone, thatch and canvas cottages, a kitchen area and a central mess.  Callers to the secluded El Karama Ranch get to enjoy unlimited trekking safaris considered one of the most engaging ways to delight in its fetching landscape. Tours of the ranch are done in company with Maasai local expert guides. El Karama Ranch sits between Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy (north) and Ol Pejeta Conservancy (south) and is located 42 kms from Nanyuki.

The peaceful setting of the lodge and the sound of the river at the bottom, plus views and wildlife close by makes it a wonderful location. Excellent food, eco swimming pool, educational and fun activities for adults and children alike and helpful, with polite staff. Numerous game drives by trustworthy and experienced guides; delicious, quality meals in various locations within the lodge and outside in the bush if we wanted (we did !), added to our wonderful experience in this unique part of the world. – Trip Advisor

25. Segera Ranch

Recognized for its bespoke Nay Palad Bird Nest – an architectural marvel that impressions a bird’s nest, rested amid the treetops near a riverine teeming with wildlife and overlooking one of Kenya’s most spectacular safari locales – that’s the centerpiece of the 201 km2 Segera Ranch, one of the most exciting safari locations in Laikipia. This one of a kind award-winning luxury hidey-nest was designed by Jochen Zeitz, the founder of Segera Retreat, alongside its other two safari-villas (Villa Segera and Segera House) tucked away in different areas of the ranch, aiming to combine privacy with a knockout safari experience. Segera Ranch is committed to 4 C’s – culture, community, commerce and conserve – and all its programs are sustainable and done in partnership with local Maasai. “A cascading waterfall flows from the Segera River and the natural Ivy Springs, found in the Valley of Kiseregai Creek, attract herds of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, warthog and many other native species throughout the year. Preserving the unique biodiversity in the Laikipia Plains is an essential cornerstone of the conservation efforts at Segera, and Kenya as a whole. Here, wildlife resources and their habitats are being conserved on mostly private and communal lands.”

26. Eland Downs

The 69 km2 Eland Downs Ranch, originally owned by 2nd president Daniel Moi and which in the latter-day was handed over to the Government of Kenya by the African Wildlife Foundation and the Nature Conservancy, is set to be Kenya’s newest National Park christened Laikipia National Park, under Kenya Wildlife Service. Once a working cattle ranch, Eland Downs Ranch when reestablished aims at taking full advantage of the rich wildlife Laikipia Plateau by linking to nearby wildlife sanctuaries. It will also serve as a safe-area for wildlife dispersal. Laikipia is, of course, Kenya’s second most important wildlife area after Maasai Mara National Reserve and where great wildlife roams its plains, in abundance. 

27. ADC Mutara Camp

Set on 20,000-acres within the 63,000-acres A.D.C (Agricultural Development Corporation) Ranch adjacent to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the 15 luxury-tents ADC Mutara Camp enjoys top-rated vistas of the wildly scenic landscape of Laikipia Plains. Its setting, on a prominence, makes wildlife viewing rather easy.  ADC Mutara Camp is allied to Jambo Chester Resorts. Highlights at Mutara Camp include bush-walks, driving safaris, biking, birding, visits to Mutara Dam, tours to the neighbouring Ol Pejeta Conservancy or Mount Kenya, and air excursions.

28. Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Dubbed “the Best Western” owing to a subtle resemblance of a classic western movie scene, the obscurity of Nanyuki has always been fascinating. Spatially, it marks the northeast gateway into Nyeri County and conversely as a gateway to Northern Kenya. Nanyuki is also the main jump-off to the ranches of Laikipia. World-famous as a model for conservation of wildlife in Kenya, the 360 km2 Ol Pejeta Conservancy, located west of Nanyuki Town, boasts the largest sanctuary for the endangered black rhino in East Africa. Ol Pejeta Conservancy burst into international fame as the home to the last remaining “Northern White Rhino” in the wild, indelibly named as Sudan. In addition to the 100 plus rhinos which thrive in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, it hosts all members of Africa’s high-minded big five – lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant and Cape buffalo – which represent safari royalty. Then, there’s their Chimpanzee Sanctuary which is the only place in Kenya where these rare primates can be sighted. On the whole, close to 1,000 mammals coexist in Ol Pejeta Conservancy handily spotted on wildlife tracking tours. It is located 22 kms west of Nanyuki along C76 Nanyuki-Rumuruti Road.

29. Sweet Waters Tented Camp

Launched in 1988 on 24,000-acres within Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Sweet Waters Tented Camp is one of its eight accommodation options; the other seven are: Ol Pejeta House, Ol Pejeta Bush Cottages, Ol Pejeta Bush Camp, Porini Rhino Camp, The Stables, Pelican House and Kicheche Laikipia Camp.  Sweet Waters Tented Camp is consisted of 50 beautifully-appointed safari-style bandas that overlook a large watering-hole where considerable wildlife gathers throughout the day to recharge. Aside from relishing these views, travellers to Sweet Waters Tented Camp may take part in one of sundry enriching adventures centered around nature and wildlife. For those who fancy adventure extraordinaire, Ol Pejeta offers private air excursions around Laikipia, and the Northern Frontier. 

30. Maiyan Villas

Maiyan Villas are found just a short hop northeast from Ol Pejeta Conservancy. From the simple contemporary block design with large windows, to the pretty minimalist rooftop verandas, the emphasis at the beautifully-appointed Maiyan Villas is the surrounding landscape of Mount Kenya and Lolldaiga Hills. Set up on 84-acres, Maiyan Villas ooze an avant-garde off-grid secluded atmosphere with spectacular vistas. These remarkable views are best experienced in the comfort of the private and individual rooftop pool lounges in each of the villas. Likewise, no expense was spared in creating a peaceful and romantic ambiance inside the villas, which are fitted with state-of-the-art furniture. Other highlight include Maiyan spa, the equestrian and sports centre, the kiddies area, Maiyan club house, the sun-terraces and visiting Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Mount Kenya Wildlife Orphanage, Nanyuki Civil Airstrip, and to Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve.

31. Mukogodo Forest

Formerly known as Dorobo Reserve, a term refering to the cave-dwelling Yiaku Community and its first-known inhabitants, the 303 km2 Mukogodo Forest is among the best-kept indigenous forests in Kenya and which is protected by the Council of Maasai Elders as a greatly valued forest. “Its rolling hills blanketed in indigenous trees are home to 45 mammal species to include prolific elephants, buffaloes and leopards, as well as, around 200 bird and 100 butterfly species”. For centuries, the local Yiaku Community watched over and protected the forest from harm and exploitation. In turn, the Maasai Tribe living around it retained the edicts governing the use of the forest. As a result, Mukogodo Forest which remains a no-go-zone – save for the dry seasons – is among the best preserved forest in Kenya. Traditionally, in times of drought, the Maasai Council of Elders convenes to plan-out where and when the livestock should be grazed. There are two campsites within the forest open to the public, who should be self-catering while visiting the area. Of the 7 protected forests in Laikipia County, Mukogodo Forest remains the most cultural importance. The other six forests in Laikipia are: Lariak, Ol Arabei, Samanek, Ngare Ndare, Rumuruti and Marmanet Forest.

32. Lekurruki Conservancy

The 11,950-acres Lekurruki Conservancy marches along the northeast and east boundary of Laikipia County contiguous with Leparua Community Conservancy in Isiolo County. Lekurruki occurs on the outer side of the Lolldaiga Hills and is adjacent to Mukogodo Forest. It forms part of the large patchwork of connected conservancies on the western boundary of Laikipia alongside Il Ngwesi Ranch, Borana Conservancy, Lewa Conservancy, Ngare-Ndare Forest Conservancy and Leparua Community Conservancy. Unique to Lekurruki Conservancy is that it encompasses a large section of Mukogodo Forest, which has a stellar diversity of floral habitats and serving as a wildlife dispersal area for the proximate triad of community conservancies. Tassia Lodge, perched dramatically on the edge of a rocky bluff jutting out from Mukogodo Escarpment and overlooking a gaping valley, is the single lodge on Lekurruki Conservancy offering its guests complete privacy in a wilderness plain largely untouched by tourism. Tassia Lodge was founded in 2000 and officially opened in June 2001. “The lodge and the 60,000 acre Lekurruki Conservancy, on which it is situated is owned by a community of ‘Mukogodo Maasai’. It is set 61 kms north of Nanyuki via Nanyuki-Doldol Road.

33. Leparua Conservancy

The 34 km2 Leparua Conservancy butted up against Lekurruki and Il Ngewsi, in Burat of Isiolo County, utilized as a shared “common grazing ground” by the Samburu, Turkana, Somali and Borana pastroralist community, also doubles as a notable wildlife corridor linking the communal conservancies of Il Ngwesi, Lekurruki, Nasuulu and Mpus Kutuk.  Lepaura Conservancy seeks to emulate several of the successful models used by the neighbouring conservancies with regards to the management of land, peace building and in the conservation of wildlife.  Currently,  there is no lodge at Leparua but’s well in their future plans.

34. Il Ngwesi Conservancy

Set between Lekurruki (north), Lewa (east) and Borana (south), on the eastern limits of Laikipia County, the 95km2 Il Ngwesi (meaning the people of wildlife) was established in 1995 as a community conservancy under NRT, with a vision to sustainably conserve the environment for grazing livestock and to manage its wildlife. Il Ngwesi Conservancy, formed by the Il Ngwesi Maasai Community living in Kenya’s high country to the north of Mount Kenya, is now continually patrolled by 18 Maasai scouts dedicated to the wildlife conservation projects. Il Ngwesi is much in demand for its award-winning Masai community safari lodge that is consisted of 6 secluded en-suite bandas built using natural materials and communally run by the local Maasai. All the rooms have open-sided design to provide uninterrupted views of the plains, and two rooms have a star bed which can be moved onto the deck for a wonderful night sleeping under the enliven African night sky. Some outdoor highlight here include: watching wildlife at the waterhole from the comfort of a shaded deck; relaxing in any of the three other outdoor areas near the pool or on the tree top decking; bushwalks with Maasai guides; cultural passages into Maasai villages; traditional archery and spear-throwing; or forest excursions to Ngare-Ndare or Mukogodo. It’s found 65 kms from Nanyuki via the A2 Nairobi-Moyale Road and through Lewa Conservancy.

35. Borana Ranch

Borana Ranch is found on the eastern part of Laikipia where there are extensive volcanic deposits, mostly of fairly flat relief, originating from Mount Kenya. The area is a wildly-beautiful one, recognized by the New York Times among the 52 Places to Go in 2017 “for its natural beauty, conservation projects and superior services…” The 90,000-acres Borana Ranch that specializes in rearing Borana cattle, averaging 2,000 heads of cattle, is also bristled with variegated wildlife including elephant, lion and cheetah, among other charismatic megafauna. In 2014, Borana Ranch and the adjoining Lewa Wildlife Conservancy eliminated their common fences with the requited aim of expanding Kenya’s largest black rhino stronghold. Borana is also a member of The Long Run: One of the world’s largest sustainable development initiatives led by nature oriented businesses.  Borana Lodge, Laragai House and Arjiju House offer scenic and top-tier living within Borana Ranch and from where their guests can enjoy horseback safaris, open-top, game drives, biking expeditions or flying excursions. Then, there’s the Kabati Regenerative Farm, a 100% organic farm where guests can get their hands dirty as they learn about healthy living. It’s located 43 kms from Nanyuki along the A2 Nyeri-Nanyuki-Meru Road, taking a turnoff at Timau into Borana.

Lengishu Experiential Video | Borana Conservancy

36. Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve

The 55.5 km2 Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve, an indigenous forest linking Mount Kenya National Park, Borana Ranch and Lewa Conservancy in the southeastern area of Laikipia County, forms part of the lower-lying areas of the Mount Kenya National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site in amity with Lewa Conservancy. Revered for its African olives and red cedar trees, Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve serves as a dominant elephant migratory route. It was one of the finalist for the 2014 Equator Prize Initiative awarded for the laudable work by the indigenous people living around forests whose efforts are geared towards their protection and restoration towards mitigating climate change. The azure pools glistening at the base of a waterfalls and the 200 year old trees stretching into the canopy and supporting a rich variety of bird and animal life are the biggest pullers to the Ndare-Ndare. Other attractions include the 0.5 km tree canopy walk, forest camping, walking, game drives and birding. The main entry into Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve is found 42 kms from Nanyuki along A2 Nanyuki-Moyale Road.

37. Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya, a landmark which seems to conjure up all that is dainty in Kenya, is easily sighted from most areas of Laikipia County. At 5,199 ms, Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa and one of the iconic and most breathtaking landscapes in East Africa. Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, Mount Kenya is considered holy by all three communities – Ameru, Aembu and Agikuyu – living around it.  Quite impressively, the snow-capped Mount Kenya straddling the southeastern border of Laikipia and set just a stone’s throw south of the equator, on most days, shows off its rugged glacier-clad peaks to be seen from hundreds of miles out. It is against this most impressive backdrop that the golden savannas of Laikipia piece themselves to one of the unique safari locales in Kenya. It is separated from Ngare Ndare and Borana Ranch by the A2 Road.

38. Mount Kenya Animal Orphanage

The secure and secluded Mount Kenya Animal Orphanage situated adjacent to Mount Kenya Safari Club, is a safe refuge and rehabilitation centre for harmed and orphaned wildlife. At the orphanage, they give orphaned, injured, abused and frightened animals a second chance to thrive in safety before being released back to the wild. Likewise, travellers and students benefit from their education program and get to see the wildlife up-close. Their rehabilitation project which aims to prevent “extinction” has been a big success – not least, the breeding of the endangered mountain Bongo and the Grevy’s zebra.  With the help of their program, the rare “white zebras” are finally safe from extinction, thanks to their captive “breeding and release” back to the natural and ancestral wild habitat. It is located 10 kms east of Nanyuki Town, taking a left turnoff near the Equator marker or an alternative along Mt Kenya Road near ASK Nanyuki Showground.

39. Nanyuki War Cemetery

Nanyuki War Cemetery is found 4 kms along a rough road from the township, turning left onto the road into Mount Kenya Safari Club. The cemetery is down the roadway on the left hand side, set well back with the grassed entrance drive marked by boundary stones. The route is well signposted from town. During the Second World War, Nanyuki Town was the key rail head for the advance into Ethiopia, via Isiolo, Marsabit and Wajir, and was also an important advance base for the Royal Air Force. The war cemetery was started during hostilities by the Army, the first burial taking place in February 1940. In 2008 the nearby Civil Cemetery burials were transfered here. Today, the Nanyuki War Cemetery contains 196 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. There are also 36 non-war burials and one Abyssinian war grave situated within the Cemetery.

40. Nanyuki Equator Marker

Despite the travel-liked gesture of crossing the equator, and by the same token crossing both hemispheres of the planet, this is not at all rated highly in Kenya considering the Equator traverses Kenya from east to west, virtually splitting it into two almost equal halves. Most equator crossing points in Kenya along the major roads have an obligatory pillar, but are otherwise bland and uneventful. Rather oppugnant, the equator crossing at Nanyuki has earned a reputation as a must stop-over for its equator crossing ceremony. Considering Nanyuki is a busy jump-off town to Laikipia County, the locals have devised pawky and fairly simple set-ups to demonstrate the Coriolis Effect: An inertial or fictitious force that seems to act on objects that are in motion within a frame of reference that rotates with respect to an inertial frame. Owing to the earth’s rotation, the air mass curves relative to the earth’s surface. In the north (hemisphere) this effect causes the air to deflect to the right of the direction of the air movement and in the south the deflection of the air is to the left of the air movement. “If you are standing on the equator at Nanyuki in Kenya and see this experiment live, the Coriolis effect will have a long-lasting effect on your memory”. – Be on the road

41. Mukima House

The easy-on-the-eye 8-rooms single-storey Mukima House is found just 11 kms from the Equator Marker (and Nanyuki Town) within Nturukuma Village. Set within 360-acres, the elegant Mukima House of a roughcast stone and timber clad facade with an end-to-end sun-awning covered veranda could have using any other material looked stack, grand and imposing, yet, this earthy finish also graciously shifts the focus outward to the sprawling lawns punctuated by large ancient trees that give lovely shade, and to its worth-a-kings-ransom swimming pool. From here, the view stretches to the fetching vista of Mount Kenya. Its all about the joy of the outdoors at Mukima House, and trippers may enjoy tennis, badminton, boating, trekking, sun-downer and picnics at Lolldaiga Hills Ranch, 22 kms away. Mukima House is also within reach of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, 24 kms away. A stay at Mukima House would not be complete without a visit to one of many wildlife sanctuaries and ranches in the area to enjoy game viewing.

Spatial Location of Mukima House in Laikipia County
Spatial Location of Mukima House in Laikipia County

42. Lolldaiga Hills

Lolldaiga Hills, forming part of the hilly landscape in the southeastern quarter of Laikipia County and contiguous with Mukogodo Forest in the northeast area, are extensive volcanic deposits, of mostly fairly flat relief, which originated from Mount Kenya. Although they occur in almost all of Mukogodo, and typified by rolling to hilly topography within Mukogodo Forest, these are more pronounced in the southeastern, near Mount Kenya, and mostly in private ranches notably of Lolldaiga Hills Ranch. Lolldaiga Hills are defined largely as inselbergs, made of ridges, some with massive rock outcrops that are partly covered by bush and scrubs. Immediately below these are moderately steep to steep boulder-strewn upper and mid-slopes, and beneath these are the footslopes. In the southeast, their elevation is mostly between 1,600 to 1,800 metres, but dip down to about 1,000 metres in the northeast end. These hills are best explored from the south.

43. Lolldaiga Hills Ranch

The 49,000-acres Lolldaiga Hill Ranch, doubling as a functional livestock ranch and as a wildlife conservancy, makes up part of the Lolldaiga Hills Conservation Landscape by the side of Ole Naishu Ranch, Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy and Enasoit Ranch. Lolldaiga Hill Ranch engages in holistic care of both livestock and wildlife, and specializes in rearing Sussex and Boran cattle and Merino and Dorper sheep.  The ranch is popular for its surpassing views of the Lolldaigas – a series of high, forested, folding hills towering over the open grassland and the shruby valleys. From the comfort of the cabins-styled Lolldaiga Farm House, callers to the ranch can enjoy fine vistas of Mount Kenya and Aberdare Ranges. Adventure offerings at Lolldaiga Hill Ranch include open-top game safari, cave exploration, birding and bush-dining. It is located 21 kms from Nanyuki along the A2 Nanyuki-Meru Road, taking a turning to Lolldaiga 11 kms from Nanyuki.

Lolldaiga Range is an ancient land form, comprising of a series of magnificent high folding hills, cedar forests, open grassland and wooded valleys. A well documented series of archaeological finds, cave paintings and burial mounds show these have been a treasured home since early times.

44. Tapendoi Farm

With no fence separating Tapendoi Farm and the Lolldaiga Hills Ranch, visitors here enjoy an unlimited walking range through the amply-wild biosphere. The rustic and cozy 5-rooms house at Tapendoi Farm is the establishment’s biggest-trump card, and a great spot for a weekend getaway. The area around Tapendoi Farm is exceptionally-pleasing, butted up against Lolldaiga Hills and Lolldaiga Hills Ranch, and within eyeing shot of Mount Kenya. Tapendoi is also within easy driving distance of some established conservancies like Lewa, Borana, Ol Pejata, El Karama and Lekurruki. It is found about 15 kms from Nanyuki Town.

45. Olepangi Farm

Bordering Ole Naishu Ranch and 11 kms north of Timau along the A2 Nanyuki-Meru Road, the 120-acres Olepangi Farm focuses on being a highly eco-friendly destination, with a long standing history as an equestrian retreat. Some of the main activities include its archery targets, croquet, horse-back explorations and farming the organic garden. Olepangi Farm is also revered for its long views of the Lolldaigas, to the north, and sacred views of Mount Kenya, to the south. For living, there are 5 charming villas all built along the northern marches looking-out to the wildlife rich plains. From Olepangi Farm, trippers can easily tour Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Borana Ranch, Ngare-Ndare Reserve, and Lolldaiga Hills.

46. Nanyuki Airstrip

Nanyuki Airstrip, which has been operated and maintained by Tropic Air since the early 1990s, is the main jumping-off place for many prodigious air journeys to the labyrinthine and wondrous Northern Frontier of Kenya and even further to Congo. “Despite having evolved into a vibrant air hub, the airfield’s charm has remained unchanged – with its simple wooden buildings, extensive lawns, and incredible scenic location” – Tropic Air. It has a 1.2 kms strip running parallel to A2 Nairobi-Nanyuki-Isiolo Road, with all-around picturesque views best enjoyed from the impressively rough and ready time-honoured Barney’s Bar and Restaurant which has also remained unchanged for decades. It is set in a spacious garden betwixt the air strip and highway providing a unique place to have a nice meal before travelling north. Rated highly, the exquisitely prepared European continental dishes are the star here. Seeing the small planes landing and taking off back-dropped by Mount Kenya is a bonus. It is open daily from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. It’s found just 2 kms before the main town en route Nyeri.

47. Mau Mau Caves

Another of the great launches within easy reach of Nanyuki Town, about 15 kms along the Nanyuki-Nyeri Road and 8 kms north of Naro Moru if approaching from Nyeri, accessible through Mountain Rock or Bantu Lodge (also popular as a starting-point for circuits taking to the northern face of Mount Kenya) are the Mau Mau Caves. These prevail as a solemn reminder of one of British Empire’s bloodiest struggles in East Africa and a beacon of some significant steps to the independence of Kenya. Located at the foothills of Mount Kenya, the Mau Mau Caves were utilized by the infamous Mau Mau fighters as a military rendezvous point, between 1953 to 1959. Although much of the history of the fierce battles in and around these caves was censored by the colonial government, historians estimate that about 11,000 Mau Mau fighters lost their lives in the insurgence waged in the adjacent forests; including native fighters who died in 1959 when the Caves were bombed by the Royal Air Force. Mau Mau Caves were gazetted as a National Monument in 2003. These are found 15 kms from Nanyuki Town.

48. River Ewaso Nyiro

The Ewaso Nyiro River is a wide ranging muddy stream rising in Aberdares and Mount Kenya, and in due course disappears into the Lorian Swamp. Rather a dramatic scene, contrasting to the wildlife rich plains, Ewaso Nyiro River forms a vital life-line along its entire treacherous journey across the scorching semi-arid terrain of Laikipia, Isiolo, Samburu, Garissa and Wajir Counties. It is the largest river in Laikipia County. By the time it nears Garissa, River Ewaso Nyiro is just a pale shadow of itself, reduced only to a non-perennial transient stream.

View of the Mukutan Gorge in Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy.  Photo Courtesy of Gamewatcher
Mukutan Gorge in Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy. Image Courtesy of Gamewatcher

Geography of Laikipia County

Laikipia County is roughly demarcated by Mount Kenya (5,200 ms) to the east and southeast, Aberdares Range (4,000 ms) to the south and southwest, the Rift Valley (970 ms) to the west, Karisia Hills (2,580 ms) to the northwest, Mathews Range (2,688 ms) to the north and Buffalo Springs National Reserve and Samburu National Reserve (900 ms) to the northeast.  Laikipia County consists mainly a range land plateau dominated by the Ewaso Nyiro North basin tributaries that flow from the south to the north. Aside from some of the spectacular inselbergs occurring in Mukogodo Division and Lolldaiga Hills with bare rock boulders on their summits, much of Laikipia County is mostly flat, marked by the Laikipia Plateau that covers most of the western and southern parts. The equator crosses through the south part near Nyahururu and Nanyuki

Land Use in Laikipia County

90% of land in Laikipia County is deemed too dry for cultivation. 80% of people depend on livestock farming. 37% of Laikipia is used for large-scale ranching, 32% used by pastoralists, 21% used by small-hold farmers, and 50% used for wildlife-based tourism. 10 of its largest ranches span over 200 km2; its largest covering 375 km2. Most encourage wildlife tourism and conservation research and several have training centers. Some are managed primarily for conserving biodiversity and water catchments. The same is true for many smaller ranches. There are eight forest reserves; the largest being Mukogodo Forest, at 295 km2.

Highlights in Laikipia County

Laikipia County is richly endowed with wildlife; widely distributed in the semi arid areas extending to Samburu, Meru and Mount Kenya wildlife corridors. Most of the wildlife is found in the large scale private ranches, which occupy over 50% of the total area of the county. The rest is found in group ranches predominantly owned by the Maasai as well as in the gazetted forest areas of Mukogodo, Rumuruti, and Marmanet and the other uninhabited areas of land.

Population in Laikipia County

The population of Laikipia County according to the 2009 National Census was 399,227, in equal parts male and female. Laikipia County has multiple ethnic communities, Kikuyus and Maasai Communities forming the largest portion of residents. Other tribes are Borana, Samburu, Kalenjin, Meru, Somali, Turkana.

View of Nanyuki Civil Airstrip.  Photo Courtesy of Tropic Air
View of Nanyuki Civil Airstrip. Image Courtesy of Tropic Air

Airports in Laikipia County

Laikipia County is served Nanyuki Airfield, managed by Tropic Air Kenya. There are 5 other airstrips within the County found within the private ranches.

Roads in Laikipia County

The total road network is 1,038.1 kms, of which over 80% are feeder roads. The bitumen surface in Laikipia County stand at 139.3 kms, covering mainly the Nyeri-Nanyuki, Nyeri-Nyahururu and Nyahururu-Kinamba-Rumuruti Roads. The gravel surfaces stand at 296.9 kms, and the earth surface are at 601.9 kms.

Climate in Laikipia County

The long rains occur from March to May, while the short rains are in October and November. The area neighbouring Aberdare Ranges and Mount Kenya form an exception to this pattern, as they receive rainfall between June and August.  The mean temperature of Laikipia County ranges between 16 C to 26 C.

Laikipia County Distance Chart
Laikipia County Distance Chart

View of Thomson's Falls near Nyahururu Town.  Photo Courtesy
View of Thomson’s Falls near Nyahururu Town. Image Courtesy

National Monuments in Laikipia County

  1. Mau Mau Caves

Laikipia County Map

Laikipia County Map