Kenya is one of few places where Mother Nature still reigns supreme. For me, it’s the wildlife – those wondrous beasts we gawk at with equal amounts of fear and admiration – that makes a visit to Kenya truly worthwhile.
The Laikipia Plateau is one of the country’s lesser-known wildlife areas.
Stretching from the foothills of Mount Kenya to the shores of Lake Baringo, the plateau is divided into huge wildlife conservancies, and is home to more endangered species than anywhere else in East Africa.
It’s the place to see Jackson’s hartebeest, Beisa oryx, Waller’s gazelle, and Somali ostrich.
But in amongst the various wildlife populations are a plethora of ranches and camps where luxury travellers can get up close and personal with Kenya’s rare desert species.
There are no gates here ... so the best way to embrace the wild environs of Laikipia (without having to forego creature comforts like toilet and electricity) is to go glamping.
Borana Lodge, the inspiration behind Disney’s The Lion King, is an obvious choice.
Home to the Dyer family for three generations, the lodge houses eight cottages within the vast Ewaso ecosystem and overlooks the Samangua Valley and lake, where large elephants populations often enjoy a quick dip.
Whether you’re on the lookout for the endangered black rhino, or searching for Gravy’s zebra, a bush dinner on Pride Rock at sundown is a must.
Lemarti’s Camp is another gem – a little-known designer camp established by Anna Trzebinski and her Samburu warrior husband Lemarti.
Situated on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro river, Lemarti’s camp takes camp-goers off the beaten track – literally. There are no safari vehicles or armed guards here and guests walk through the jungle with Samburu warriors who only carry traditional weapons.
Guests are encouraged to connect with the wildlife through guided walks, tracking game on foot, camel trekking, and high altitude running.
Five stylish safari tents with ensuite bathrooms open to the skies as Lemarti encourages cultural interaction with both the local tribesmen and the land.
Like Lemarti’s, Joy’s Camp is in amongst the arid lands of the Samburu. The ten chic canvas bedrooms have breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and overlook a large natural spring where elephant and lion jostle for watering rights with herds of buffalo.
Each tent has its own private veranda, ideal for game viewing, and is uniquely decorated with handmade glass and vibrant fabrics of the local nomadic tribes.
The camp is built on the site of Joy Adamson’s tented home in Shaba National Reserve, the same place Penny the leopard, the herione of Joy’s last book, called home.
The ultimate in tented luxury, Richard’s Camp in the Masai Mara, is for the discerning traveller. The boutique camp has eight tents, all beautifully furnished with ensuite bathrooms and 24hour solar lighting.
Set amongst a grove of enormous African olive trees, Richard’s Camp overlooks the open plains characteristic of the Mara, where local wildlife is a frequent addition to the campsite.
At night, guests can dine in the bush alongside the hippo pools and then head back to camp on a night safari with the chance of spotting the elusive zorilla or genet cat.