Laikipia straddles the equator, lying between the ice-capped peaks of Mt. Kenya, the arid lowlands of Samburu and dazzling Lake Baringo. The region’s appeal is its startling contrasts; in wildlife, landscape, people, and climate. It is transversed by the Ewaso Nyiro and Ewaso Narok rivers.
The uniqueness of this region is not only due to its wildlife and spectacular scenery but also because of its unique partnerships. Considered the gateway to Kenya’s wild Northern frontier country, Laikipia’s wild and sparsely populated land is mostly made up of privately owned ranches and community conservancies.
Over 6,000 elephants roam Laikipia, an area that stretches from the Great Rift Valley to the magnificent escarpment overlooking the Samburu and Isiolo districts. Laikipia has healthy wildlife population densities, the highest number of endangered species in Kenya including black rhino, Grevy’s zebra, and wild dog and the greatest variety of animal species.
What To See:
Laikipia is home to various antelopes and grazing mammals that also occur in other parts of southern Kenya, such as waterbuck, impala, eland, African buffalo, plains zebra, bushbuck, and both Grant’s and Thomson’s Gazelles. There are no wildebeest, however, or Topi.
Large and medium-sized predators in Laikipia include the lion, the leopard, the cheetah, the serval, the caracal, the African wild cat, the striped hyenas and the spotted hyena. While related to the hyenas, the aardwolf differs in that it feeds on termites. Present too but seldom seen are the honey badger, a voracious predator of beehives, and the omnivorous African civet, which at night sometimes finds its way into chicken coops.
As home to some 450 of Kenya’s estimated 1,100 bird species, Laikipia is a birder’s paradise. Before the sun emerges, Crested Francolins launch into rounds of strident, repetitive cackles. The force and timing of their daily chorus have earned them the soubriquet ‘East Africa’s alarm clock’. The guttural barks of Hartlaub’s Turaco will make a telling contribution to the morning chorus.
A ride through Laikipia’s grasslands will yield sightings of one of Africa’s iconic birds: the Common Ostrich. Other large terrestrial birds include five species of Bustard: Black-bellied, White-bellied, Hartlaub’s, Buff-crested and Kori.
The Ewaso Ng’iro, Ewaso Narok, Naro Moru, or Nanyuki Rivers watercourses are prime habitat for the African Fish Eagle, often seen swooping to the water’s surface to snag fish. Grey and Black-headed Herons stand patiently at the water’s edge, waiting to spear unwary frogs or other prey animals. Kingfishers – Giant, Pied and the small, jewel-like Malachite – streak back and forth between riverbanks, or perch motionless on reeds, scanning the shallows for prey.