Made famous by Kuki Gallman’s ‘I Dreamed of Africa’, the Laikipia Plateau is located in central Kenya and sweeps from Mount Kenya, all the way east, to the rim of the Great Rift Valley. Originally, the area consisted mainly of cattle ranches and farms, but the economic viability of wildlife tourism soon came to light amongst locals. Consequently, farmers, ranchers and local tribesman partnered up in the 1990’s to establish a wildlife conservation area that now stretches over 800,000 hectares of savannah. Presently, several of the biggest ranches operate as private game reserves – some of which are among the most luxurious in Africa.
The partnership manifested in the formation of The Laikipia Wildlife Forum (established 1992). The result is an area preserving more endangered mammals than anywhere else in East Africa. The Big 5 are protected here, including half of Kenya’s highly endangered black rhino population. The area also contains one of the largest elephant populations in East Africa
Laikipia is second in size only to Tsavo National Park, and is larger than all other Kenyan game reserves and national parks. This plateau is also the only part of Kenya in which wildlife numbers have actually increased over the past 20 years. With the continued conservation efforts of the LWF, Laikipia will, in all likelihood, be one of the most important areas for biodiversity in Kenya within the next two decades.
For the energetic, the area is home to the world’s only marathon run in a game park. Competitors run on dirt roads within the 62,000 acre Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The marathon is run annually, and offers gruelling challenges as runners battle the high altitude (3000m) with one eye on the dirt road and the other on spectating cheetah, rhino and elephant.