Laragai House was built as a country retreat for the brothers Valentine and Michael Cecil, both British lords.The Cecil family’s attachment to Africa is strong: the brothers’ Kenyan company was long Africa’s largest internet provider. For many years the brothers and their friends and families enjoyed Laragai House’s “African Baronial” luxury (and doubtless enjoyed awakening each morning with bang-up views of the Laikipia Plateau’s private Borana Conservancy and regal Mount Kenya to the south). Their tradition of aristocratic elegance and no-nonsense comfort persist in this exclusive-use gem.
The great house, remindful of a lushly gardened English country manor beautifully and aptly placed amidst an animal-thronged wonderland, has eight uniquely furnished, interconnectable bedrooms, split into four wings, making it ideal for families whose members may want varying degrees of privacy. Each room has its particular bright personality, but all offer vast views of the Plateau, and, it almost goes without saying, all are a delightful mix of English tradition and the most modern of amenities.
Laragai’s drawing room is the House’s centre. With two large fireplaces and antique mirrors reflecting candlelight, it’s an ideal gathering point for sundowners while watching Borana’s animals—elephants, lions, skittish impala, bouldery Cape buffalo—as they frequent the waterhole just outside its windows. In the evening, we head to the grand dining room for a lavish dinner prepared by the House’s chef and crew. Lunches are usually taken nearby, by the beautifully imagined pool, set above a dammed lake much admired by frolicking elephants. The House has a clay tennis court, gym, and spa, in-house nannies for the younger visitors (and a fine bedroom for those accompanied by their own nannies).
Laragai House has its own airstrip for private flyers, and the Lewa Downs strip, serviced by regular bush flights from Nairobi, is a 45-minute drive away (a lovely mini-game drive; many Micato guests have seen the Big Five on their way to Laragai).
In addition to personalized, flexible, and invariably exciting game drives with your ever-in-attendance Micato Safari Director in the vast, game-rich Borana Conservancy and the even vaster Laikipia, Laragai House offers a wide selection of activities.
But first, about those game drives: The Borana-Laikipia is second only to the Maasai Mara in its bio-diversity; it’s home to Kenya’s largest populations of endangered species, black rhino (half of Kenya’s total population) Grevy’s zebra (70% of the world’s population), rare reticulated giraffes, the country’s only population of Lelwel hartebeest, and one of Africa’s healthiest populations of the rare and immensely fascinating wild dog.
Horseback safaris are a marvelously intimate way to engage with the landscape, as are mountain biking excursions (supported by a Laragai safari vehicle supplied with picnic-in-the-bush delicacies). Stand-up paddle boarding on the House’s lake, quad biking, and accompanying Borana’s anti-poaching rangers as they make their rounds are attractive to the younger set. And few safari outings are as enthralling as easily arranged helicopter excursions into Kenya’s northern areas, a huge land of high mountains (fly-fishing and rambling on Mount Kenya, landing for a picnic on the flat top of Ol Lolokwe), zooming over epic Great Rift lakes like severely majestic Turkana, and flying low above the life-giving Ewaso Nyiro River, on the lookout for hippos and pleistocenic crocodiles.