Ol Pejeta Conservancy - Laikipia, Kenya
Kicheche Laikipia Camp is a small luxurious tented camp, which stands on the Laikipia Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The camp is surrounded by indigenous forest and overlooks a waterhole. Offering just six custom-built luxury tents, there is also a central dining tent and safari lounge.
The camp lies at the centre of the 110,000-acre Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which lies on the Laikipia plains 17 km from Nakuru and 217 km from Nairobi. Just three hour's drive from Nairobi, the conservancy is open from 7am to 7pm and is accessed via its main gate, which is 14 km from Nanyuki (signed just before the outskirts of town).
By road: transfers by road from Nairobi take approximately 2-3 hours.
By air: the airstrip is 2 km from the camp and a ‘meet and greet' and transfer service is offered.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Nanyuki, Kenya
Situated between the foot hills of the Aberdares and the magnificent snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya, the 110,000-acre private wilderness of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy boasts an astounding variety of wildlife, including all the members of the ‘Big Five' (the endangered black and white rhino , leopard, elephant, buffalo and lion).
Offering one of the highest wildlife densities in Kenya and a higher wildlife to acre ratio than any Kenyan national park, the conservancy offers sanctuary to a number of endangered species, most notably the rare Grevy's zebra and the Jackson's hartebeest. The largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, the conservancy also hosts the only sanctuary for chimpanzees in Kenya.
The largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa
The conservancy is home to 79 critically endangered black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli). At present there are only 539 black rhinos in Kenya, though it is hoped that this population will rise to 650 by 2010. Take into consideration that fact that in the 1970s, Kenya's population of black rhinos was thought to be in excess of 20,000, and that by the 1980's it had dropped to only 300, and the scale of Kenya's conservational challenge becomes all too clear. As the largest black rhino sanctuary in Kenya, the conservancy is at the forefront of the present conservation schedule and already runs a number of revolutionary tracking and monitoring schemes. Additionally, the conservancy is working towards contributing a further 75,000 acres of prime black rhino habitat towards the national conservation programme.
The conservancy is home to 40 lion, 20 cheetah, 30 leopard and 60 spotted hyena as well as numerous smaller predators such as; jackal, caracal and bat-eared fox.
Elephant migration corridor
There some 300 African elephant on the conservancy, though their numbers are dependent upon seasonal migration patterns. The conservancy features a number of major wildlife migratory corridors, which link the Laikipia/Samburu ecosystems, and which offer vital migratory paths for the elephants.
Preserving ancient cattle species
The Conservancy holds the largest single herd of pure Boran cattle in the world (2,000 top quality Boran breeding cows). The Conservancy is also a pioneer in proving that livestock ranching and wildlife conservation need not be mutually exclusive.
Glorious game drives
So abundantly populated is the conservancy that every game drive offers the possibility of sightings of elephants, lions, rhinos and hippos and the virtual certainty of sightings of giraffes, zebras, gazelles, warthogs and buffalos. Visitors can also enjoy the varied scenic habitats of; the elephant swamp, the hippo hide, the oryx plains and the winding reaches of the Ewaso Nyiro River.
One of the few places to enjoy a night game drive
Because the conservancy is a private reserve, it is not restricted by the usual rules that apply to the national parks, where night game drives are not normally permitted. A uniquely specialized activity, a night game drive is the ultimate safari luxury. Night is the exclusive domain of such hunters as lions and leopards, and the only time when you may catch a glimpse of such elusive nocturnal creatures as aardvarks and bush babies. Typically, safari vehicles will be equipped with a powerful hand-held lamp, which can be used to sweep the bush for likely sightings. Amongst the many creatures you can expect to see are: aardvarks, bat-eared fox, porcupines, bush babies, bushbucks, mongoose, genet cats and a number of nocturnal birds.
A non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of wilderness and wildlife, the conservancy charges fees for entry, the proceeds of which go towards the support of both the conservancy and the human community that surrounds it. Typically, these fees will be included within the rates charged to those staying overnight in one of the conservancy's accommodation options. Alternatively, and in the case of day visitors, there are day fees charged by the conservancy.
The camp offers just six luxury tents, each with an en-suite bathroom area with hot and cold running water, showers and a flushed WC.
Dining and bars
Meals are served in the central mess tent, or on safari in the bush.
Children are welcome and additional beds can be provided.
What to see and do
A number of the conservancy's 30 lions are equipped with GPS radio collars, which are linked to GSM (Global System for Mobile communication technology) tracking devices. The collars allow the movements and behavior if the lions to be monitored; they also allow the conservancy staff to maintain the balance of wildlife on the conservancy by observing the impact of the lion upon such prey species as hartebeest, whose population had fallen by 50% over the last ten years, largely as a result of lion activity. With prior arrangement, guests may accompany the lion-tracking patrols on their rounds, affording a unique insight into the life of lions in the wild.
The Ol Pejeta ‘Morani' Conservancy Centre
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy Centre is a research station dedicated to the preservation of this unique environment, which is one of only four such reserves in Kenya. The Centre offers a colourful educational facility where visitors may look, touch, feel and learn more about the wildlife, the birds and the flora. It also offers a basic grounding in the ancient art of bush craft, such as spoor identification, tracking and the use of medicinal herbs.
The Centre is open 8 am-6 pm daily. Entry to the Centre is free, as is the guided tour offered by the professional rangers.
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Established in cooperation with the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Jane Goodall Institute for Conservation Projects for Chimpanzees Throughout the World, the sanctuary is a non-profit-making venture and the only sanctuary of its kind in Kenya. A gentle and charming diversion for children and adults alike, it introduces the visitor to two communities of chimps, one of which can be viewed from a timbered hide, and the other from across the Ewaso Nyiro river. A total of 43 chimps live in the sanctuary, most of them rescued from captivity in Burundi and now adjusting to a new life of peace and harmony within the natural environment. The sanctuary also offers a fascinating interactive information centre where visitors can learn more about the chimps by means of a series of hands-on activities.
The Sanctuary is open 9 -10.30 am and 3- 4.30 pm.
The Ereri Multi-Cultural Community Manyatta
Located just beyond the boundary fence of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Ereri Manyatta (village), offers a charming and unusually authentic cultural experience that is not to be missed. The village is home to three groups of nomadic people, the Maasai, Pokot and Turkana; who though historically often at war, have been brought together by a common need to escape the crippling droughts of northern Kenya, earn a living and preserve their culture. The manyatta visit includes; a traditional welcome, an invitation into 3 homesteads, a tri-cultural display of dance and song, a meeting with the medicine man or ‘witch doctor' and a colourful range of interactive demonstrations ranging from fire-making to the fashioning of traditional tools. The tour is guided by an English-speaking ‘moran' (warrior) who will be delighted to promote questions, cultural exchange and photographic opportunities. Children are welcome.
• Guided wildlife walks on the open plains and along the river
• Day and night game drives
• Visits to the Morani Information Centre
• Guided visits to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary
• Visits to local community projects such as schools
• Rhino tracking with the Ol Pejeta rangers (maximum 2 guests per patrol)
• Individual rhino assessments with researcher identification material
• Input of data discovered into the Ol Pejeta computer database Boran and Ankole cattle pastoral care eg. herding, spraying
• Learn how to use radio-tracking equipment to find, for example, the resident cheetah Toki (featured in the BBC documentary ‘Toki's Tale')
• Radio-collared lion tracking with the Ol Pejeta lion researcher
• Elephant and general wildlife monitoring with resident rangers and researchers
Guests may have the opportunity to observe special activities such as animal capture/release should they be going on during their time on the Conservancy.
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