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Kifaru takes its name from the Kiswahili word for rhinoceros, and since its founding in 1983, the Lewa Conservancy and its 150 well-equipped rangers have fiercely protected Lewa’s growing population of 169 members of the family Rhinocerotidae, 10% of Kenya’s rhinos. All of which is to say that Lewa, with 69 more mammalian species—including 20% of the world’s population of Grevy zebras, the largest, and, to our eyes, the most comely member of the Equid family—is a veritable pilgrimage site for wildlife enthusiasts. Adding to this safari bounty is the multi-generational expertise and passion of the Craig family, who founded the conservancy and inspired Kifaru House’s intimate yet expansive African ambience.
Kifaru’s five thatched-roof cottages reflect the Craigs’ tradition of understated, warmly comfortable luxury. One of the cottages has two bedrooms, making it ideal for families, and all include the most modern of amenities, not to mention four-poster king-sized beds, two-washbasined bathrooms, a lovely sitting area, a spacious tiled lanai, and glorious, ever-changing views of Kenya’s eponymous mountain.
Dining and sitting rooms, with a well-curated bar, two large fireplaces, and inviting, contemplation-inspiring nooks, make up the main house, and a large library—reflecting the Craigs’ deep engagement with East Africa—is nearby, as is a heated infinity pool with sitting and dining areas and a massage room with shower facilities.
We come to Kifaru for its superb gameviewing, of course. Game drives led by our Micato Safari Director take us down from the lodge’s hilltop, into a wonderful medley of landscapes: highland forests, spring-fed copses, classic acacia-dotted grasslands. All of the Big Five are in residence, along with 440 bird species, all those elegantly designed zebras, and the rhinos—fantastical animals who, the more we see them the more novel they seem. (Another of safari’s often unexpected charms: getting personal and gently close to animals we’ve seen in countless documentaries, cartoons, movies, and pictures, but, when we see them in their homeland, suddenly become beguilingly novel, almost extraterrestrial beings.)
The Lewa Conservancy, and Kifaru itself, wouldn’t exist without the enthusiastic engagement of the local Maasai people, who benefit from the conservancy’s Community Development Program, which offers healthcare, micro-financing, water projects, and supports a number of local schools. Micato guests enjoy school visits, and some have spent some of their safari time volunteering at one of the conservancy’s programs—a great way to expand and enrich the safari experience.