Read part I of my Laikipia experience here.
I’m running late. No surprise there. If I had a dollar for every time I was late, I would be a millionaire! I want to capture as much of Sweetwaters Tented Camp as I can before breakfast and departure. We have a long day ahead of traversing at least four conservancies in Laikipia, and we wanted to get an early start. But I have to take some pictures of the camp. The camp offers accommodation in two wings – the standard wing which has the stand alone and double-storey tents and the new Morani wing tents which are more spacious and can even accommodate triple beds. The camp’s lawns are lush and green and impalas are often seen grazing on them. Are you looking for a property to have a staycation with family and or just to have a chilled couple of days with bae? Sweetwaters Camp should be top of your list. It is an easy drive from Nairobi. Bring your fleeces though; it does get chilly at night.
The rest of Laikipia is not as easily navigable, what with the puncture we get about an hour after leaving the nearest centre where we had gone to restock supplies (read, alcohol). It’s all part of the adventure though and we are soon off to our first stop of the day: Enasoit Camp. Enasoit is a small camp with just six cottages set on its own sanctuary. The camp is only booked on exclusive use! It’s all yours. The beauty about Enasoit though is not its exclusivity. What makes it special is the waterhole located in front of the camp lounge area. Goodness, it is something I’ve never seen before – tens of reticulated giraffes and zebras less than 500m away quenching their thirst and licking from the salt lick! Extraordinary! I become a little daring and move close to the giraffes. The photo op is too good to pass! The animals pay no heed though and keep drinking and licking.
After gin and tonic with the Enasoit managers (very cordial couple!), we are off again, this time to Sanctuary at Ol Lentille. I have seen the photos and cannot wait to see whether the actual measures up to the pics. The drive there though is long and winding over rough terrain. Laikipia is larger than all of Kenya’s national parks and reserves with the exception of Tsavo in southern Kenya. It has such varied landscapes from green hills dotted by scrubs and bushes to dry, dusty plains. Sanctuary at Ol Lentille is perched high on a rocky hill with spectacular views over the Ol Lentille Conservancy. The views are breath-taking! The lodge comprises four varied fully staffed and serviced houses. They come with everything you need for your stay – a butler, kitchen, cook, driver, guard – everything! The Eyrie, recommended for honeymooners, is a dream! For families/group of friends, book the 3-bed-roomed Chief’s House which can accommodate up to six adults with children. The only downside with Sanctuary at Ol Lentille is you have to walk steep slopes so it will not do for people with problems with mobility.
Lunch is booked at the Loisaba Tented Camp. It is way past lunch time, though and as hard luck would have it we lose our way. You do not want to get lost in the African wilderness! Three people each give David our driver different directions. I’m almost resigned to spending the night in the bush. Luckily, we bump into the area chief who points us in the right direction and we pull into Loisaba late into the evening. Sleeping under the stars in Loisaba’s starbeds has been rated as one of the most amazing experiences in Kenya and a must-do when in Laikipia. We don’t get to see the starbeds but are taken round the tented camp. The original camp was destroyed in a fire in 2016; the re-build is fantastic. Loisaba has the largest, most remarkable tented rooms I have ever seen. The space, the views, the lavish amenities, the infinity pool are just some of the reasons I will come back here, someday.
After a hurried lunch, as the sun set over the horizon, David drives the thankfully short distance to Ol Malo Lodge, our home for the night. The moon appears bigger and brighter this evening. “It is the night of the supermoon – the night when the moon is at its closest point to the earth”, one of us says. We get to Ol Malo and are met by Andrew and Chyulu Francombe, the managers. After freshening up in our assigned rustic rooms, we find the managers and staff have laid out roasted goat (nyama choma) and Ugali (cornmeal mush) Kenya’s favourite delicacy for dinner; it begins to feel a lot like home. Andrew, regales us with stories, as we feast around the fire late into the night. It has been a long and memorable day.
I lay still as I watch the sun peek through the large picture frame windows from the comfort of my cedar post bed. I think to myself, how amazing is this? I grab my phone and capture a few photos but they don’t do the awesome sunrise any justice.
I meet a kudu (big antelope) on the way to breakfast. I’m not sure what to do. Should I run? He/she would be faster than me. Should I scream? I don’t want to shatter the morning quiet. Lucky for me, Chyulu comes to the rescue and shoos the kudu who calls the lodge home away. Moments later, Andrew shows up at breakfast with a snake at hand – literally! The yelling that ensues makes him get rid of it quick.
“Would you guys like to go on a heli-ride? You can skip it if you’re in a hurry to get to back to Nairobi”. What is a home?! Andrew, who is the son of the owners, is also a pilot. He pairs us in groups of three and takes each one on a scenic flight over the area. He flies high over the hills and goes low over elephants taking a bath in a seasonal river in a thrilling flight that ends too quickly!
As we drive back home, I search for words to summarize my Laikipia experience. It boils down to enormous space, exclusive destination, exquisite accommodation.