The flight from Nairobi to Laikipia went smoothly, contrary to what I had expected. Past tales of flights around the Mt Kenya region had made me slightly antsy about the trip but it went very well. I was headed to Segera Retreat, in Central Laikipia. I had heard quite a bit about it, including that the ranch and the retreat are owned by billionaire and former CEO of Puma, Jochen Zeitz. The little research I did informed that Jochen was a keen conservationist who fell in love with not only the land but also the community living around it and made it his mission to protect it for posterity. He runs Segera on the 4Cs philosophy: Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – in that order. The aerial view of Laikipia as you approach Segera is fascinating. Laikipia is flanked by the green grasslands of Mt Kenya on one side and the desert lands of northern Kenya on the other. The contrast is mesmerizing. After a one hour flight, we landed as Segera’s own private airstrip and made the short walk to the main building.
The Paddock as it is known houses a bar, a dining area and two lounges – one on the front side of the building and another one at the top. The Paddock like the rest of the buildings at Segera is made of timber and with no paint work on it, the natural colour of timber makes the building blend in with the environment.
Across the Paddock, is the Wine Tower, a tall, cone-shaped building that holds vintage wines imported from South Africa. From the top of the tower hangs a glass chandelier that lights up the building at night. It’s amazing how they are able to regulate the temperatures within the tower so as to keep it and the wine held within cool. On one of the nights at Segera, guests can have a candlelit dinner at the cellar, a wonderful idea for couples.
On the right of the main building are renovated horse stables now used as an art gallery to display local and international art. Here you will find paintings from artists from all across Africa from Morocco to Namibia, Ghana to Uganda. The paintings are the owner’s personal collection and are not for sale. The Stables also have a sitting area with a fireplace and comes complete with a bar where guests can enjoy their favourite tipple.
Right behind the Stables is the pathway that leads to the accommodation that consists of 6 two-storey villas which are spread out over the retreat. What stands out as you walk around the ranch is how lush and green it is. There is a remarkable array of plant life around the gardens which is amazing considering the climate of the region. A stroll around the retreat will reveal various artistic pieces, a testament to the owner’s love for art.
The two-storey villas are made of wood with thatch roofing. Each villa is enclosed by an abundance of plant life, creating a private and secluded environment. There are sun loungers outside each villa where clients can soak up the sun. Below each villa is a suspended swing bed where guests can while the hours away. On one of the nights, the swing bed can be draped with mosquito nets and guests can spend the night under the African sky. On the deck of each villa is a Jacuzzi bath with lovely views over the landscape.
Villa Segera is perfect for honeymooners. These are two separate villas connected by a walkway. One villa acts as a living room while the other houses the bedroom. The décor is simply stunning in Villa Segera – it boasts of antique furniture, chandeliers, candle holders, the old manual, type writer among others. The bedroom is spacious and has a shower as well as a bathtub that looks out into the outdoors. One thing that stands out here is the wall paper – the owner Jochen Zeitz has a collection of old letters written by Karen Blixen, Finch Hatton, Ernest Hemingways and has used these to create wall paper for the bedroom! Villa Segera has its own swimming pool.
Segera house is a 2 bedroom house that accommodates up to 4 people. The house has a beautiful Moroccan door that opens to a sitting area with two stair cases on either end that lead to the two bedrooms. The two rooms feature a bed, a small sitting space, a bathtub and a shower. Segera house is ideal for 2 couples.
Also on the property is a wellness fitness centre with a spa, a well-equipped gym and a steam tower. An inspection of the back areas revealed a much organised laundry area and kitchen. A brief chat with the staff there and it was exciting to learn that each of them is studying to get international accreditation in the different aspects of the hospitality industry. There is an organic garden from where vegetables used in the camp are sourced and should they need more, they buy from the local community, a big boost to the local farmers, instead of sourcing them from Nanyuki. Segera had certainly lived up to its reputation. As we sat down for lunch, I thought I couldn’t be more impressed. But I was, with the presence of a surprise guest, Jochen Zeitz. It was an honour to meet the man behind the vision and his passion about Laikipia. Segera brings sustainable tourism to life. And while the region is teeming with herds of giraffe, elephant and other plain game, Segera’s brand of tourism moves away from the wildlife-focused tourism to one that is focused on the land, the people, talents in the arts, while enjoying all the comforts of this luxurious retreat.