If you want to get away from it all, then this is a place where you can do it. In an increasingly connected world, Laikipia Wildnerness Camp(LWC) is refreshingly not connected. It is smack dab in the middle of nowhere. You do not have access to television, email, cell phone(or even smoke-signals). Located an hour and half out of Nanyuki, this is an ideal place to unwind, kick back and relax for a few days.
Although I pride myself in having a natural sense of direction, I found it challenging getting to LWC. I do not often get lost and when I do, I am not above asking for assistance. We managed to get off-track twice. We made wrong turns both on our way to LWC and on our return trip. If you follow the directions provided by LWC, do not neglect the part about calling them when you leave Nanyuki. You will not be able to stop and ask for directions enroute. Also, recognize the distances provided are not precise. Using 20/20 hindsight, the best thing to do is stick to the main track until you reach the second bridge. At that point, throw your vehicle into reverse and look for the right turn about 20 metres back.
First impressions last a long time. Simon, smiling and gregarious, made a good first impression. He greeted us upon arrival and was quickly followed up by Buster and Borris. They are the resident dogs that are super-friendly. They quickly bonded with our children and to everyone’s delight; they even accompanied us on several game drives.
Simon walked us between thistles and thorns along a dry, sandy trail towards the mess tent. Inside, we found a well-appointed room filled with lounge furniture, a large dining table and photographic books, travel magazines and a few children's games. We were given cold beverages and a bit of information about where we were and what we could do.
After a few minutes, Simon escorted us to our rooms. Half of us(two adults, one child) landed in one tent and the other half(three children) were next door. There is lots of space in the tents and the porches face the sunrise for early morning tea(asked for masala) and coffee. We appreciated the large, open-concept, adjacent bathroom that wonderfully combines nature and privacy. You can shower in the sun(or under the stars) without feeling the least bit prudish. You stand on a built-in wooden frame when showering which keeps your feet from getting cold on the concrete. We thought a nice future addition might be to offer massages in the same spot in the mid-afternoon.
Because we care about what we eat(and drink), we were satisfied by the food offered at LWC. We took note of the organic garden growing just outside the kitchen. The meals are cooked to perfection and it is obvious the chef knows how to follow a recipe. With the exception of the porridge, we never ate the same things twice. Fresh grilled zucchini in the middle of the bush? Lasagna that was nearly as good as my mother used to make? Three cheese samosas that melt in your mouth? Where can we buy some of that tomatoe chutney? These are the thoughts you will think as you savour each bite.
Overall, everyone in the family--including the children-- enjoyed the mealtimes, we did notice two things. It could be we are alone in this and it is peculiar to us. But, maybe we are not alone and so we will mention them.
First, we do not drink soda. In our family, pop is anathema. This is problematic because LWC has plenty of options when it comes to soft drinks. Our children have been taught that Coca-cola or Sprite are not good for you. There were lime drinks and juice options given, but when you are on full board, you find yourself wanting other options besides apple and orange juice.
Second, we loved the quality of the food. Because it is so good, you find yourself wanting more. Yet, there were a few times when there didn't seem to be more available. For example, there were four portions of above-mentioned lasagna when we were a family of six. There were a limited number of the cheese samosas(the children fought over the last one). We all wanted to eat more of the ribs on the night we ate by the elephant water-hole but sadly there was none left. I suspect because of the location of LWC that it is not easy to run down the road for extras when a hungry family of six shows up.
The game drives were good. Joseph is Samburu and he knows his way around middle-of-nowhere places like this. He has been trained how to follow the signs(tracks, poop, birds, etc.) to find animals. He got a little more high-tech when it came to finding the wild dogs. We tracked the wild dog packs using an antennae and radio. Apparently, a few of the dogs have been fitted with radio collars. Once we found them, we sat in the truck for an hour listening to the dogs munch and crunch their way through a young water-buck they had just killed. Painted dogs are such a rare find on most safaris. The sight of these alone(almost guaranteed here)makes LWC a place worth visiting. We also saw the other usual suspects: elephants, giraffe, wart-hog, hyena and a wife variety of bucks.
We met Steve(Annabelle wasn't feeling well), the owner of LWC, on our second day. He is an energetic, good-natured outdoors-kind-of-guy. He has years of experience hosting and guiding folks in both Zimbabwe and Kenya. We enjoyed hearing his stories and learning from his knowledge of the area as we sat in the mess tent and around the fire late into the night.
The children were well-looked after by Joseph and Mugambi. In the afternoons, they went for adventure walks, swam and rafted in the river, fished and did some bird-watching. We even did some rock-climbing on a nearby outcrop. There was never a dull moment. This makes it easier for the parents. Even when they were at the camp, they were free to run around and make noise. At one point, our youngest dug out an old paint set(you know the kind with the multi-coloured round cakes) and asked for water and paper. The staff quickly accommodated her request and she busied herself with the paints.
Great memories were created on this weekend getaway. We left with smiles on our faces and a renewed sense that the world is a wild place. The Creator has created some amazing creatures. We only wish that it was closer to Nairobi so that we could make more frequent visits.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Small and personal 10 bed tented camp in Laikipia, Kenya offering real adventure, walking safaris, game drives, excellent wild dog, leopard, elephant, giraffe and special Laikipia species. Homely atmosphere, family run, comfortable tents with en suite facilities and at a good price. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Laikipia Wilderness Camp Kenya/Nanyuki Town