Explore the unique beauty of Laikipia Plateau for a fresh take on the traditional Kenyan safari experience.
Covering almost two million acres, and running from Mount Kenya in the east and the Rift Valley in the west, the Laikipia Plateau is a seemingly endless expanse of wild country in the central highlands of Kenya.
Days spent on safari on the Laikipia Plateau are a strikingly different experience to the rest of eastern or southern Africa. First and foremost it is made up of a patchwork of independent working ranches, rather than being a conventional National Park, so all house rules will be defined by your hosts. This offers a sense of liberation, where you have the opportunity to walk, ride a horse or camel, or travel in an open vehicle across the landscape.
Lying just outside the jurisdiction of National Parks, Laikipia offers a unique and inspiring space to escape your vehicle and embrace the numerous safari activities that Kenya has to offer. Today, the plateau is an interesting amalgam of land that’s almost all either privately or communally owned, whether by large-scale ranchers, small subsistence farmers, Maasai or Samburu communities.
The wildlife on Laikipia is superb — in addition to the big five, including eight separate rhino sanctuaries, the area boasts a large and diverse array of mammals. It is also arguably the best place on the continent to track wild dog. Furthermore, along with the outrageous spectrum of mammals and birdlife, you will see more people than you would traditionally expect to see on safari: herdsmen (typically garbed in colourful traditional robes) and cattle, roads and stockades. This is not the pristine wilderness of the Luangwa, but in some ways, Laikipia is all the richer for getting to witness these slices of life.
From a visitor’s perspective, Laikipia is about freedom, giving you the opportunity to experience the lifestyle of its native inhabitants. The vegetation in Laikipia is extremely diverse, ranging from indigenous forest to rock, arid scrub and steep river valleys. This area sees relatively little rainfall but can be deceptively cold at night during certain times of the year.
The Laikipia Wildlife Forum has been very active in promoting collaboration amongst its members, helping the plateau become an important conservation body. The region is littered with ranches which have involved themselves in ecotourism and conservation projects, both within their own land and in partnership with local communities.
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- Spend part of your safari in private bush houses
- Epic safaris on private conservancy ranches
- Great for rhino and wild dog sightings
- Take to the saddle for a unique riding safari
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To Reasons To Visit Laikipia Plateau
Often the best safaris involve looking beyond the obvious highlights. It’s about the exhilarating encounters that will make your heart sing. These are encounters that nobody could ever predict, but that make your safari genuinely unique.
Best time to go visit Laikipia Plateau
Make the most of Laikipia’s June-to-September dry season for the best wildlife viewing.
While Laikipia technically has two dry seasons, the one which coincides with our summer — and the African winter — is more moderate in temperature, but this doesn’t stop the area’s water reserves from drying up.
This forces the nearby animals to cluster around the same sources to drink, providing visitors with far clearer views of the local wildlife, and giving you a greater cross-section of the plateau’s residents.
For an area that is so incredibly game-rich the Laikipia Plateau receives a surprisingly small amount of rain – averaging under 500mm a year, which means it is seldom too wet to visit. Most of this rain falls in April, May and November although light showers can occur any time of year.
For almost all of the year the area is a veritable wildlife playground, where you can swim in waterfalls, fly-camp under mosquito nets, meet a warrior, or track wild dog on foot.
You can see a different side of the plateau during the October-to-May wet season. Although you may have to contend with some rainfall, the lower proportion of visitors allows has its advantages.
The presence of rain transforms the plateau, heralding the arrival of baby antelopes and other animals. This climate also encourages a greater concentration of birds to return to the area, making it ideal for those who are interested in more than mammals.
Best time to go visit Laikipia Plateau
Top experiences in Laikipia
Laikipia & the Masai Mara under canvasSee Itinerary
Kenya Safari Expedition to Lake TurkanaSee Itinerary
Our Favourite Camps & Lodges
Wildlife is not a highlight here, but you do stand the chance of seeing a real gem such as wild dog, if you have the patience to look.Learn More
Thanks to the initiatives of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, you get an extremely rare opportunity to see Kenya’s largest population of Black Rhino.Learn More
The conservancy in which the camp is found has the greatest game-to-area ratio of any of Kenya’s parks or reserves.Learn More
The wildlife in the surrounding area is supreme, being one of the best wild dog spotting sites Africa has to offer.Learn More
Luxury mobile camp carried by camels for multi-day walking safaris across the vast Laikipia Plateau. This is authentic and comfortable camp to get you off the beaten track in wild Kenya.Learn More
There’s tons to do and great people to do it with. All round, this probably makes Borana one of the best places to stay in Laikipia.Learn More
Even on the days when one wants to relax at the house, game viewing is still possible from the swimming pool that overlooks the watering hole.Learn More
Owned and run by the local Masai community, Il Ngwesi offers something truly special – a full wildlife and cultural experience awaits for you and your family.Learn More
Sabuk is a very pleasing destination in its own right or a fine staging post between intense safari days in Samburu and the Mara.Learn More
Sosian is a working ranch yet absolutely crawling with wildlife and offering an unusually diverse range of things to do from walking to wild swimming, riding camels, horses and mountain bikes.Learn More
There is no better way to experience the raw grit and earthiness of the African bush. This trip is for the moderately fit who are happy to rough it and see a different side of Africa.Learn More
Laikipia Safari (FAQS) NEED TO KNOW
How many days do you need on safari in Laikipia?
A Laikipia safari can be undertaken within a wider itinerary taking in more of the country. As such, and taking the range of activities available into consideration, you can easily spend seven days in the Laikipia Plateau and find something new and memorable to do each day, before taking a drive to the Masai Mara to take in the wilderness there.
What is the best way to explore the Laikipia Plateau?
Not having to adhere to regulations governing the country’s National Parks gives visitors a much wider range of ways to explore the Laikipia Plateau, providing the weather holds in your favour. Outside of a more traditional drive in an open-top vehicle, you could take to horseback, cycle, or enjoy a fantastic walking safari with some of the best guides in the business, allowing you to see Laikipia from all manner of angles.
What is the accommodation at Laikipia like?
Laikipia boasts lodgings which are entirely the plateau’s own, tending to be centred around old farmhouses. This means they are usually more solid, and perhaps a tad more colonial, than traditional safari camps elsewhere. However, you’ll often be in the company of people who have enjoyed an unorthodox upbringing as offspring of the pioneers who first discovered these parts, rendering the whole experience as uncontrived, warm and relaxed.
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