Laikipia Plateau, Kenya
A great African success story, the Lewa Conservancy serves as a working model for sustainable development and wildlife conservation in East Africa. It’s also one of—perhaps the only—place in the continent’s gamelands where safariers can recreate the great flying scene in Out of Africa, breezing over the Conservancy’s marvellous, animal-thronged landscapes in an open cockpit biplane, piloted by our aeronautically adept host, Will Craig.
Will and Emma Craig own and graciously operate this gorgeous property, and Lewa Wilderness’ eight cottages are arranged around their private home, where they’ve been entertaining guests for thirty years. The cottages feature glorious woodwork construction that blends perfectly with their soothingly natural surroundings. Each has its own sitting room and veranda with stunning views of the wildlife-rich savannah valley and the green Aberdare Range beyond. The main lodge is the hub of activity, where we gather for cocktails around the fireplace in the cosy sitting room, or feast on meals from the organic garden at the banquet table in the open-air dining room.
Game viewing in Lewa is extraordinary, even by East African standards (and regal Mount Kenya, just to the south, provides a dramatic backdrop for our gamedrives). The Conservancy is a leading force in rhino reintroduction, and the Pleistocenic beasts roam free and well-protected. The local population of Grevy’s zebra, a rare, elegantly coated species, is one of Africa’s largest, and it almost goes without saying that the Big Five are very much in residence, along with giraffe, ostrich, impala, and more than 400 bird species. And after a foray into the wild, Lewa Wilderness’ infinity pool offers vitalizing refreshment, the stables are full of horses for guests to ride, and the clay tennis court beckons.