Kenya Wildlife Conservancies

Discover Kenya’s Wildlife Conservancies

Kenya's Wildlife Conservancies

Kirinyaga County

21. Ragati Conservancy

Found within the Kamweti Forest, on the higher reaches of the Kamweti Route and at the doorstep of the Ragati River, Ragati Conservancy is an enchanting alpine wonderland which is rhapsodized as Kenya’s number one fly fishing spot – especially for trout. Established in liaison with the Kenya Forest Service and covering 5,000-hectares consisted in essence of afro-montane forest and afro-alpine heath on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, at an altitude of 2200 ms to 3000 ms, this off-the-grid magical pie-in-the-sky is a salubrious and restful hideout. Adventure-makers to Ragati Conservancy get to enjoy a stay at their wonderful Ndongoro Log Cabin, or at the Kichachu Tented Camp from where they can explore Mount Kenya National Park along Kamweti Route, enjoy fly fishing, walking safaris, visiting nearby waterfalls or engage in some of its noble projects centered on preservation and protection of this unique ecosystem. The only safe way to get Ragati is by 4X4, through the Ragati Forest Station – 20 kms from Karatina, off the Karatina University Road just before Karatina Town.

Kitui County

22. Kanyonyoo Conservancy

Kanyonyoo Wildlife Conservancy is 231 km2 of arid bushland interspered with acacia accommodating remnants of once prolific plains game that freely roamed the previously unsettled area. It is about 76 kms east of Thika near Kanyonyoo Market. The A3 Thika-Garissa-Liboi Road progresses along its southern flanks, while the B7 Kibwezi-Kitui-Kandwia-Usueni Road travel on its western frontier, so it is approachable from the south as well as from the east. So far there is no accommodation within the conservancy but it is served by Thatha Hills Resort and Kitui Premier Resort both within a reasonable distance. The conservancy was established to preserve the existing wildlife in harmony with ranching. Some of the notable wildlife include buffaloes, zebra, antelopes and giraffes. It is also home to a variegated bird life. The generally dry climate of Kitui means that its parkways are passable almost all year round. Against the backdrop of Thatha Hills it is almost guranteed success, yet, in addition, it has impressive game. The fact that Kanyonyoo Wildlife Conservancy lacks a focal point or a much-talked about spectacle makes for pleasant afternoon game drive full of adventure. From Kitui Town, this is located 30 kms northerly in Thatha Village.

Wilderness Landscape around Laikipia County. Image Courtesy of HuffPost
Wilderness Landscape around Laikipia County. Image Courtesy of HuffPost

Laikipia County

23. Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy

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.’

24. 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.

25. 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.

26. 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.

27. 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.

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. 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.

30. 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.

Lamu County

31. Kipini Conservancy

Situated near Lake Kenyatta, the expansive inter-territorial Kipini Conservancy, shared by Lamu and Tana-River Counties, is among the best preserved coastal areas whose ecological gamut is both wondrous and highly specialized, skirted by Tana River Delta and parts of Witu Forest Reserve. It is both a shelter and wintering habitat for plenty of migratory bird populations. Kipini also offers a safe refuge for prolific threatened native shore birds. Moreover, archaeological sites containing the ruins of a stone cemetery, minarets and other intriguing historic buildings make up for a great historical adventure. The forest itself consisting of purely of natural trees and vegetation is rich in terms of resources, owing to the trees that have got many uses including timber usage, medicinal value among others. Among the trees contained in Kipini Conservancy include: Dume plams, Triclulia Emetia, Mvule, Terminalia, black palms, elephant tree, among others. Additionally, it has a diversity of marine-fauna associated with more than 1,000 coral fish and turtles. Several species of whales, dolphins and the globally threatened dugong can also be sighted. It’s located near Mpeketoni.

Machakos County

32. Athi-Kapiti Conservancy

The Athi-Kapiti Plains roll-out in the western part of Machakos County marked by an exceedingly level plane, being cut only by seasonal stream channels. The scale and beauty of Athi Kapiti Plains from a distance is best appreciated on the approach into Nairobi from Athi River, or from a vantage point in the southern area of Nairobi. A seemingly endless flush plain only broken by three inselbergs – Wami, Theki and Kyumbi- it only slopes upwards to the east, becoming more undulating, utill it merges with the uplands near Machakos Town. Athi-Kapiti Plains that’s contiguous with Nairobi National Park is a major wildlife dispersal area and also one of the most expansive wildlife plains. Inside the Aithi-Kapiti Plains sits the 40 km2 Athi-Kapiti Conservancy and one of the easily accessible wildlife viewing areas in Kenya outside of the Nairobi National Park. This holds a great diversity of Kenya’s most stirring wildlife, some rare, including the only white-morph cheetah found in Kenya. It is located 41 kms south of Nairobi City.

33. Swara Plain Wildlife Conservancy

The family-run 20,000-acres Swara Plains Wildlife Sanctuary nearby Lukenya Hills holds about 3,000 game animals on its acacia-wooded savanna. Originally acquired in the 1960’s by the conservation pioneer Mr. David Hopcraft, Swara Plains remained an untravelled sanctuary up until 2000 when the Swara Acacia Lodge was opened to the public. Unique to Swara Plains Wildlife Sanctuary is that there are no dangerous animals within the sanctuary and nature walks and biking through extensive 100 kms parkways – through the wilderness – is as popular as safari game drives. By the same token, children of all ages are very much welcome and encouraged to explore here. “One of the unique features of Swara Plains, and what I think is one of its biggest selling points, is the ability for guests to go on night game drives. In those conservancies where they aren’t forbidden, night game drives are often really expensive, where as in the Swara Plains it’s free if you have your own car and provide your own spotlight” – Jan Fox. At the heart of Swara Plains Wildlife Sanctuary is the 13-cottages Swara Acacia Lodge, with its traditional thatched roofs and rustic stance contrasting beautifully with the savanna and thicket surroundings. For the avid campers, there’s a great camping ground with running water and washrooms. Firewood is included in the Shs. 1,600 camping fee. Then, there’s the snugly Hop-Inn Bar.

Makueni County

34. Kilalinda Conservancy

The 8,000-acres privately operated Kilalinda Conservancy situated between Ngai Ndeithya National Reserve and the eastern border of Tsavo East National Park is an inviting safari destination. The cozy 6-cottages Kilalinda Lodge looks out to Galana River, the pitted Tsavo Plains and Yatta Plateau, which compose a bonny landscape. “The lodge is designed to take its guest as far as urban life as possible to give them a home from home in the middle of the bush”. Kilalinda Conservancy offers an intimate experience of the region that’s best experienced on walking safari and open-top safari. It hosts a sizeable collection of wildlife to include herds of elephants, waterbucks, leopards and over 200 species of birds. Guests at Kilalinda Conservancy can also enjoy fishing and a swim at their pool.

Marsabit County

35. Jaldesa Community Conservancy

Established in 2013 through Northern Rangelands Trust, the 650 km2 Jaldesa Community Conservancy of a gently undulating plain interspersed by low-lying hills and craters situated east of the Marsabit National Reserve (around Badasa, Jaldesa and Gachacha) is a community-run rangeland aiming to set a balance between livestock keeping and preservation of wildlife through a participatory process led by the Conservancy Board. It lies within a 1,039 km2 communally owned land traditionally swayed by the Borana (90%) and Gabbra (10%) people who are agro-pastoralists keeping livestock and doing subsistence agriculture. Critical wildlife species include elephants, reticulated giraffes, Grant’s gazelles, leopards, lions, ostrich, impala, common zebras, greater kudu and lesser kudu among many others. It is accessed via Marsabit-Jaldesa-Yamich Road passing through Jaldesa borehole and Shurr Town. Callers to Jaldesa Conservancy may be interested in exploring its striking and primitive landscape, viewing wildlife, and exploring the cultural tribal sites. Being a relatively new conservancy, the communities in Jaldesa are concentrating on improving security, infrastructure development and sustainably management. As such, there’s little tourism in the area yet. However, Jaldesa holds great promise, with fascinating, breathtaking natural landforms. So there is no reason natives here could not mark a blossom.

36. Shurr Community Conservancy

This was launched in 2008 through Northern Rangelands Trust. The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) partners with local communities to foster peace and stability through conservation. Conceived in 2004 by Lewa Conservancy with support from USAID, NRT brings together local pastoralist communities with land owners and the Government to proselytize the long-term conservation of wildlife in Kenya’s northern rangelands. At present, NRT oversees more than 30 community-owned and managed conservancies, which cover nearly 32,000 square kilometers. The 364 km2 Shurr Community Conservancy nearby Shurr Town and abutting with Jaldessa Community Conservancy (and also accessed via Marsabit-Jaldesa-Yamich Road) was formerly used as a grazing ground by the native Gabbra Community. As a conservancy it aims to protect, restore and bring up to code the rich wildlife and natural resources of the area. Unique to Shurr Conservancy, a dry grassland and bushy savannah with pockets of acacia growth covering a rocky lava-terrain, is that it is a wildlife corridor and a buffer section between the wildlife-rich Marsabit Mountain and Jaldesa Conservancy.

37. Songa Conservancy

The 1,011 km2 Songa Conservancy, to the north of Marsabit National Reserve, is dominated by arid grass-land plains. It is marked by diverse landscape with thick grasslands and bushy savannah with numerous acacia trees to the south and thick forest vegetation to the north, close to Marsabit National Reserve. It primarily serves a buffer and wildlife dispersal area. The overall goal of Songa Conservancy and its two adjacent conservancies is to achieve sustainable use of natural resources and optimize ecological functions, especially water, grazing land and energy. Bordered by Jaldesa, Shurr and Marsabit National Reserve, Songa acts as an important wildlife corridor and dispersal area for elephant and buffalo during the rains. Key wildlife species include elephant, buffalo, Beisa oryx, lion, Grevy’s zebra, lesser and greater kudu, leopard, among others. Songa Conservancy has five small shopping centres in Kamboe, Karare, Parkishon, Hula Hula and Songa. There are schools and health clinics in all these locations. There is also a water bottling company around Songa and a police post in Leyai.

38. Melako Conservancy

The 387 km2 Melako Conservancy is best known as hot-spot to view the rare Grevy’s Zebra, hosting almost 200 Grevys, which represents 9% of the global population. Began in 2004 under the Northern Rangelands Trust, and covering the five locations of Laisamis, Koya, Lontolio, Merille and Logo Logo, Melako Conservancy’s main focus has been on sustainably managing their rangeland to ensure both their livestock and wildlife continue thrive and flourish as well as improving security and relations with neighboring tribes. Sirikoi Lodge (Lewa Conservancy) has been hugely supportive of Melako, bringing guests here to experience the wilderness and learn more about NRT’s work. Visitors pay a conservancy fee which provides valuable revenue for the community. Sirikoi is looking to expand their involvement with NRT in the future, a prospect many communities in the northern conservancies look forward to. The main Isiolo-Moyale road passes through the settlement areas of Merille, Laisamis and Logo Logo. Other roads are murran/earth roads which connect to the villages and outlying areas however many of these roads are impassable in the rains limiting access to the livestock markets, relief food and trading, and security operations.

Lewa Conservancy in Meru County. Image Courtesy of Ndege News
Lewa Conservancy in Meru County. Image Courtesy of Ndege News

Meru County

39. Lewa Conservancy

24 kms from Meru Town en route Nanyuki the B6 Embu-Meru Road meets A2 Nanyuki-Meru Road on an approach which would cut across Lewa Conservancy and Ngare Ndare moving forward. Lewa Conservancy, which stretches across north from the intersection lining-up with the A2 Road as its eastern limit and bound in the north by Leparua Community Conservancy in Isiolo County, was begun in 1983 as Ngare Sergoii Rhino Sanctuary and reestablished in 1995 as Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Its far-reaching wildlife conservation projects have anted-up the complex game of endangered wildlife bouncing back and a second chance to thrive. A multi-award recipient for its conservation model, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 and featured on the IUCN Green List of successful protected areas, Lewa is the nexus of conservation and sustainable tourism in Northern Kenya and their working model has provided a framework used widely in the region. Today, the 250 km2 Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, that is contiguous with Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve in the south, is home to 11% of Kenya’s rhinos and the world’s largest bevy of Grevy’s zebra. 70 other species of mammals including elephant, lion, giraffe, leopard and buffalo also roam freely here. Almost 50,000 people directly benefit from Lewa’s projects in education, health, water management, infrastructure upgrades, micro-enterprise projects, improved security and much more. Lewa is home to five luxury lodges – Craig’s House, Sirikoi House, Kifaru House, Lewa Wilderness and Lewa Safari Camp. In addition, travellers can enjoy three additional accommodation options at the adjoined Borana Conservancy: Borana Lodge, Laragai House and Arijiju Lodge.

Nakuru County

40. Oserengoni Wildlife Conservancy

Formerly known as the Oserian Ranch, the 18,000-acres private sanctuary and adventure site has for years focused on extenuating the age-old human-wildlife conflicts in Lake Naivasha Ecosystem. Oserengoni Wildlife Sanctuary works to guard and conserve endangered wildlife through sustainable programs centered on preserving and perpetuating a natural balance.It has two luxury properties – Chui Lodge and Kiangazi House. The wildlife sanctuary surrounding Chui Lodge was created in the mid 1990’s with the sole purpose of giving the resident wildlife a place of safety and refuge. Over 18,000-acres is girded by an electric fence, as much to keep illegal cattle grazers out as it is to keep the wildlife from straying into the nearby farmlands. Within the sanctuary and game corridors there are over 50 mammal species, that include, leopard, topi, zebra, serval cat, impala, warthog, and lesser galago. All year round, there are over 400 species of birds that thrive in the different ecosystems. On the other hand, Kiangazi House offers pretty views of the Great Rift Valley and the shimmering Lakes Oloiden and Naivasha. Kiangazi House is located 5 kms from Elsamere Nature Reserve.

Conservation of Wildlife in Kenya