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Why New York Times lists Laikipia as a top destination

The New York Times recently listed Laikipia as one of its “52 Places to Go in 2017”.Poldark Country was the sole British location making the list.

Summarising what Laikipia has to offer, Tim Neville writes in the January 4th edition: “The Borana Conservancy of central Kenya’s Laikipia region forms part of a 90,000-acre protected area for elephants, lions and cheetahs, among other charismatic megafauna.

“Game drives and lodges abound, but a spectacular new property, the five-suite Arijiju, opened in 2016 with guides who take guests on excursions, including fly fishing, trail running, horseback riding and treetop canopy tours. The region is home to both the Samburu and the Maasai, tribes with equally colourful and fascinating cultures.”

The newspaper has also asked readers to list their own suggestions about what visitors should experience during a visit to the region on Facebook. Why is Laikipia so attractive?

Space, personal experience, wildlife, heritage and culture – are the five elements, which define the Laikipia tourism experience, which makes it unique and different from many other destinations.

The county is richly endowed with wildlife, which is widely distributed in the semi-arid lands extending to Aberdares, Samburu, Meru and Mt Kenya wildlife corridors and ecosystems.

Laikipia has great numbers of wildlife outside of the gazetted protected areas. Most of the wildlife is found in the large-scale ranches, which occupy over 50 per cent of the county. The rest is found in smallholdings, group ranches owned by local communities in Mukogodo, Rumuruti and Marmanet forests.

The major wildlife species are the lion, giraffe, leopard, elephant, buffalo and the rhinoceros though other smaller wildlife species are also abundant particularly the African wild dog, zebras, grevy zebras and gazelles. Most of the tourists are hosted in conservancy lodges.

The county has four international standard classified hotels —Sweet Waters Tented Camp at Ol Pejeta, Sportsman Arms Hotel in Nanyuki town, Thompson Falls Lodge in Nyahururu and Illingwesi Lodge at Illingwesi Community Ranch.

With 43 active tourism facilities and over 1,200 hotel beds, the county receives over 86,000 visitors (tourists) annually and generates annual gross revenue of over Sh1.5 billion. The number of visitors is projected to increase with a minimum of 14 per cent annually in the next three years. Below are a few gems.

Arijiju conservancy:

Arijiju is a word which originated from the Maasai word for the hill on which it was built. It stands on the Borana Conservancy, owned by Michael Dyer, a third-generation Kenyan.

It operates both as a working cattle ranch, traversed by the nomadic Maasai with their cows and goats, and as a wildlife sanctuary. The property is well stocked with plains game zebras, giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, eland and hartebeest as well as lion and enormous herds of elephant.

Ol Pejeta Bush Camp

Owned by Alex Hunters of Insiders Africa, the camp is located in Ol Pejeta Conservancy. It is an informal, rustic-style bush camp set on the banks of Ewaso Nyiro River.

During the day you get to enjoy the encounter of wildlife conservancy. It offers great flexibility due to its small size and focuses on good food and guiding.

Kitich camp

This camp is surrounded by lush landscapes and overlooks a river glade in Mathew Mountain Ranges in the outskirts of Nanyuki town.

Apart from wild animals such as elephants, leopards, bushbucks and giant forest hogs, the camp is home to various species of butterflies and birds. An Italian influence dominates its cuisines.

Ol Jogi Private Reserve

Located on the Laikipia Plateau around 45 minutes’ flight from Nairobi, Ol Jogi is simply one of the most impressive luxury villas in Kenya. It occupies a stunning 58,000-acre private wildlife conservancy home to lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, buffalo, three species of primate and incredible birdlife to name just a few.

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