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Memories of Kenya’s private reserves

In light of the current world climate, I’d like to start off by saying that I hope as you read this, you and your family are well. As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to develop on a daily basis, there is an air of uncertainty casting a shadow over the entire notion of travel, at least for the near future. Yet, I continue to dream of far flung places; savannahs teaming with plains game, the sight of leopard lazing in a tree, the purposeful steps of a herd of elephant on their journey to water. At this time, these memories bring joy and help sustain my passion for travel.  Safari is Swahili for ‘journey’ and I am sure that as we recover from these challenging times we will all once again be considering our next life enriching ‘journey’ one of our world’s wild places. In the meantime, here is something to help you dream of Africa. Every year the prospects of Kenya’s wildlife improve as more private wildlife reserves are established through innovative partnerships with tribal communities. These reserves provide the chance to enjoy wildlife in privacy on wild savannahs, winding rivers and beneath snow-capped Kilimanjaro. Enjoy each aspect to the fullest from a series of intimate lodges with unexpected charms and comforts. The land area of Kenya’s private reserves is many times larger than the Masai Mara, each offering an exclusive and remote experience that is a million miles from the image of overcrowded “safari buses”. The Masai Mara is Kenya’s most famous protected area and surrounding it lie a number of private reserves, sharing and further preserving the ecosystem, whilst ensuring an exclusive experience. This is the setting for the Great Migration of countless wildebeest and zebra, which brave crocodile infested rivers and deadly lion prides on their immemorial journey. You’ll also encounter those other members of the Big Five – leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant. Experience this and more from the luxurious seclusion of your lodge, hidden like a jewel on the epic vastness of the plains. The prestigious Mara Plains on the Olare Motorogi Conservancy is a Relais & Chateaux property offering just 14 guests the chance to stay within an exclusive 35,000-acre conservancy. If you fancy a change from walking or driving through one of the richest ecosystems on the planet, you can always go for an early morning hot air balloon trip, rising above the forest for an entirely different perspective. Further north, Segera Retreat sits nestled between Mount Kenya and the Great Rift Valley in Laikipia, overlooking a world of tropical botanical gardens and open plains. Then there’s the extraordinary NAY PALAD Bird Nest, which not only gives you a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the wilderness, but also allows you to fall asleep under the stars of the endless African skies in your own little nest. In the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, among the rolling Chyulu Hills, Ol Donyo Lodge sits on a dramatic location owned and leased by the local Maasai people. The lodge provides you with every comfort while still living in the heart of wild Africa, with giant bull elephant roaming freely, and the calling of leopard heard in the night air. The black rhino is critically endangered, and the owners of Saruni Rhino on the Sera Conservancy are dedicated to protecting it. The camp offers the first authentic rhino tracking experience in East Africa. And you will have to track – the rhino wander the vast sanctuary’s 54,000 hectares. But encountering a two-tonne rhinoceros is something you will never forget. Sanctuary at Ol Lentille is, arguably, the most private safari lodge in Kenya. It’s totally secluded, and set in over 40,000 acres of pristine wilderness – that’s three times the size of Manhattan just waiting to be explored, guided by local Maasai and Samburu warriors. As you can see, in modern times luxury is increasingly about the extraordinary privilege of privacy in combination with expert guides, impeccable service and comfortable accommodation.Have you been to Kenya or hoping to go? Comment below with the number one safari destination on your bucket list. Laura Burdett-Munns is Managing Director at Africa Exclusive. Africa Exclusive has been creating the finest tailor-made safaris since 1990, specialising in luxurious accommodation in beautiful remote places. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. I haven’t been to Kenya but I’ve thought about visiting Nairobi quite a bit. There certainly seems like plenty of room to dream with the places you’ve mentioned especially the 35,000-acre conservancy. It’s nice to know that the locals there take care of their land and wildlife, something other countries could surely learn from in the future.

  2. It’s so long since I visited Kenya that I can’t even remember which reserves I visited. Nice to read this and to look at the pictures as it brought back some amazing memories of the sun rising beyond a vast plain, lions lazing after lunch and elephants bathing themselves.

  3. I know that these reserves are going to have a tough time over the next few months. After that I think there will be many of us travel addicts heading off on some big adventures.

    If Covid 19 achieves anything positive it will be to make us seize opportunities whilst they are there – carpe diem and all that.

  4. You know, in all my years of hearing the word ‘safari’ I never knew it was Swahili for journey, amazing. It’s certainly nice to dream about such far flung places and wonder about future travels. There will be a time when the current crisis starts to abate and we can get a sense of things returning to some semblance of normality, even if they’re not quite what they once were. I imagine there are going to be a lot of people keen to travel once the restrictions are lifted and the virus seems to have been wiped out.

    An old school friend that I went to high school with is a big fan of Kenya. She worked at an animal shelter there and has been back a couple of times since for a few months each time and I think if she could she’d probably move there. She adores it (sadly her hubby doesn’t seem as keen to live his family in the UK so I think for now it’ll be regular trips back as often as they can manage!) I’ve seen lots of photos on her Facebook and it’s learning more about the private wildlife reserves here makes it very tempting. It must be incredible to see nature like this, the so-called Big Five and the vast plains, and it’s nice to know you can still get some kind of home comforts with a little luxury despite being out of your comfort zone in a place so remote in comparison to home if you’re from somewhere like England.

  5. Kenya is such a beautiful country that has faced so many difficulties over the years when it comes to tourism. I do hope that the nation will be able to bounce back soon from the current pandemic.

    How are things looking for international tourism later in the year or is it too early to tell at the moment?

  6. We’re still to do a big trip in the post-COVID age. Last summer everything was still a bit dicey. Now this year UK airports are having loads of problems. I’m really reading this looking ahead to 2023. And it’s been very helpful and quite inspiring too. Hoping to get to Kenya in 2023!

  7. I’m so glad that I read about these private reserves. I was really disappointed with our last safari, there were so many vehicles around that it really didn’t feel right at all. I’m no animal behaviourist but I could see that some of animals were looking a bit uneasy.

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