Last month Simon and Rosy put together a lodge to lodge ride in Laikipia using the Offbeat Horses. Offbeat in fact always include a Laikipia ride in our set departures, however the popularity of the Mara means that we do not always run them. This was the first time that I have done the Laikipia ride and I must say it was absolutely fantastic. The landscape and wildlife varies so much from the Mara that it makes a wonderful change. We had a fantastic group, some return clients from New Zealand who had done our Mara ride last year and were keen to experience something different.
The first two days were spent at Sosian Lodge and started off with a bang as the first leopard was spotted on the second evening after sundowners. We spent the first two days riding the Sosian horses whilst some of the Offbeat horses journeyed from the Mara, via Deloraine up to Sosian in time for the first moving day.
After a fantastic time at Sosian we set off, following the Ewaso Narok river to Laikipia Wilderness. Along the river we came across lovely big herds of elephants, reticulated giraffe and a Grevy zebra. We reached Laikipia Wilderness in time for lunch and were greeted by our very friendly host Steve. After lunch a few of the team decided that a swim in the river was in order before setting out for an evening game drive.
The next day we had our longest moving day to El Karama Eco Lodge. After a tasty breakfast we set off with our saddle bags bulging full of treats that Rosy had packed for us. It was another spectacular ride down a valley and after a slight rerouting in order not to disturb a grumpy bill elephant we made it to our lunch spot beneath a big Yellow Fever Tree.
After lunch and a siesta we had a quiet ride into camp. On arrival we received the exciting news that a leopard had taken up residence at the exact same spot we had planned to picket line the horses for the next two nights.
El Karama Eco Lodge is a beautifully placed lodge and managed by the charming Della and Rich. It was simply fascinating listening to all the processes involved in making a lodge Eco-friendly. Our two days here were spent exploring the area and trying to find the ever elusive lions.
Our next stop was at Mogwooni (Simon and Rosy’s home). We were hosted by the lovely Claire Jones and her amazing cooking skills. On route to Mogwooni we stopped for a picnic breakfast under a very cool tree and had an extremely exciting moring cantering with a big herd of buffalo, seeing gerenuk for the first time and even saw the extraordinary sight of some elephants chasing a buffalo.
After a night at Mogwooni and a morning spent with Jackie Kenyon showing his finest Boran cattle to the enthusiastic Kiwi farmers we rode up to the Loldaiga hills. We were met by Claire and Rosy for a roast chicken picnic lunch and a swim in the dam with the horses. An evening game drive to Hyena Rock for sundowners resulted in our second leopard sighting.
The following morning we rode to our final destination Laragai, a beautiful house on another of Laikipia’s famous ranches, and rhino haven Borana. No sooner had we stepped onto Borana and got told by Simon to keep our wits about us, we bumped into a big male white rhino. He was so relaxed we managed to watch him for a full 20 minutes before our stomachs started rumbling for lunch. However the rhino was not too impressed when we decided that viewing time was over and as we tried to sneak around him he gave us a good show and a bit of a charge. Luckily the going was good and we managed to canter off around the hill only to bump into a black female rhino.
This was most definitely the first time in my life where I have had a black rhino in front of me and a white rhino behind me. The horses were incredible and kept their cool, while Rosy was in our supply car and witnessed the whole thing. Luckily Simon had his wits about him and we all (including the rhino) managed to escape unscathed. Full of adrenaline and stories we arrived at lunch and managed to stop talking for 5 minutes to enjoy the delicious lunch that had been prepared for us.
We spent three nights at Laragai enjoying the swimming pool, some well-deserved massages, afternoon game drives resulting in beautiful sundowners and Jay’s entertaining jokes and stories. The rides around Laragai were stunning with Mount Kenya showing itself in the early mornings ....
and the oryx cantering past.
The ever elusive lions were sighted near a dam with elephants to the left and buffalo to the right. A cheetah was spotted whilst we were enjoying a bush breakfast and we were also lucky enough to see honeymooning lions.
All in all what a fun safari it was. The wildlife was spectacular and on a par with the Mara. The big 5 were seen in a 24 hour stint, 4 of the big 5 were seen from horseback in one morning, 3 separate leopard sightings, 1 cheetah and plenty of rhinos. The Laikipia ride is definitely worth considering and exploring. We have one set for October and I personally cannot wait to head back up there.
Megan, and the Riding team.