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Mukutan Retreat - Laikipia, Kenya

Laikipia West - Laikipia Nature Conservancy - Kenya

A unique refuge, the romantic Mukutan Retreat stands high on the cliffs that overlook the spectacular Mukutan Gorge, with its spectacular waterfall, palms and extraordinary thermal Hot Springs. Located on the community owned ranch known as Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch, it offers just three cottages, all of which are located on the. Each cottage has a spacious bedroom, a double fireplace, a private verandah and a spacious bathroom. The central building offers a luxurious dining, lounge and bar space, which has been presented with considerable rustic elegance. The décor also reflects the intricate carving of the Swahili tradition, much of which has been done by local craftsmen from sustainable indigenous hardwoods. With a maximum of six guests, the retreat offers a degree of exclusivity, cuisine and service that is seldom found in modern-day Kenya.

The area itself is wild and beautiful and provides a much-needed haven for 250 species of birds and 50 species of mammal, amongst which, elephant, buffalo, Grevy's zebra and greater kudu abound. It also promises sightings of those species that are only found in the north of Kenya, such as gerenuk. The wilderness is also rapidly gaining a reputation for big cats and the elusive wild dog, which was thought for many years to be extinct.

Location
Situated on the northern edge of the Laikipia plateau, Mukutan Retreat overlooks the spectacular Mukutan Gorge on the western edge of the Laikipia plateau, which is a pristine wilderness area approximately 100 kms north of Mount Kenya. In size, the wilderness equates to that of the world-renowned Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania; and, as such, is larger than many of Kenya's national parks. The Laikipia Plateau extends west from the foothills of Mount Kenya to the wall of the Rift Valley at Lake Baringo, and north from Nanyuki and Nyahururu to the lands of Samburu and Isiolo. It merges with the Lerochi Plateau south of Maralal. In the north the edge of the plateau drops abruptly to the northern frontier district. The land is generally flat (1800 m and 2100 m).

Kenya hotels and accommodation
Amongst the wide range of Kenya hotels, some make the ideal Kenya safari destination. Choose a safari lodge, safari hotel, bush camp, luxury lodge, safari camp, tented camp or bush lodge. National park accommodation usually takes the form of a traditional safari lodges or tented camps, but numerous other options exist on the park boundaries. Luxury lodges and luxury camp options are also offered in the private wildlife conservancies.

Background
The vast plateau of Laikipia rolls from the foothills of Mount Kenya to the arid deserts of what used to be known as the NFD, the Northern Frontier District. Wild and very beautiful it is not part of a national park or reserve, but is mostly occupied by large cattle ranches dating from the colonial period, when vast areas were sold at low cost as part of the ‘soldier-settlement scheme' to soldiers British soldiers returning from the first world war.

Home of community tourism
These days, cattle-ranching has largely been replaced by ‘community tourism', an entirely new concept in Kenyan tourism, which represents a unique cooperation between the local people (Rendille, Samburu and more) and the old ranchers - who represent the new face of Kenyan ‘eco tourism'. As a result, visitors can enjoy not only an exclusive and private wilderness, but also pursuits such as walking, biking, camel-riding and horse-riding, none of which are permitted in the national parks).

More endangered species than anywhere in East Africa
As a result of its long exclusion from the normal tourist circuits, and its isolation in the arid north of the country, the region offers a real and pristine wilderness experience. More endangered species can be seen here than anywhere else in East Africa. Here too, the wildlife densities rank second only to the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve.

Elephants, Grevy's zebra, rhino and oryx
Half of Kenya's black rhino are protected in the Solio, Lewa, Ol Jogi, Ol Pejeta and Ol Ari Ng'iro sanctuaries. The area also has largest elephant herds (over 3,200) outside the national parks, and is one of the few places in Kenya to see Jackson's hartebeest. Laikipia is also home to about 25% of the world's population of rare Grevy's zebra alongside such other rare species as; wild dog and the semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope. This is also the best place to view such northern species as; reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich, Beisa oryx and gerenuk, while the numerous impala and Grant's gazelle ensure healthy numbers of lion, leopard and cheetah.

Eco conservancy, the new frontier of Kenyan
Prime areas to visit include the Lewa Conservancy, the Ol Pejeta Game Conservancy (which contains one of Laikipia's biggest concentrations of wildlife, especially black rhinos and also offers a chimpanzee sanctuary), and the Sweetwaters Game Reserve (Sweetwaters Tented Camp - Serena).

An umbrella body, the Laikipia Wildlife Forum was formed in 1992 to conserve the integrity of the Ewaso ecosystem and to monitor a number of research programmes, such as the Mpala Research Centre, the African Humanities and Biodiversity Centre and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

Accommodation
In terms of accommodation, the retreat offers three cottages, all of which are located on the Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch. Each cottage has a spacious bedroom, a double fireplace, a private verandah and a spacious bathroom.

Dining and bars
The central buildings offer a spacious lounge, dining and bar area, all of which offer spectacular views.

Activities
The retreat offers a wide variety of activities;
• Walking in the hills and valleys with a trained local guide
• Relax in the natural mineral rich hot spring, or enjoy a massage.
• Games drives and night drives to spot lion.
• Game viewing on horseback or camel rides.
• Picnic breakfast and lunch.
• Swimming in the rock-carved pool or one of the waterfall pools.
• Night under the stars in the ‘moonlit cottage'.
• Fishing in one of the dams or streams for black bass and fresh water crayfish.
• Bird watching - 400 identified species in the area.
• Cultural visits to Pokot, Turkana and Samburu tribes.
• Visit the newly discovered archaeological remains.


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