For experienced travellers who are truly curious and wanting to explore regions off the beaten track, then a flying safari taking in Northern Kenya is one of the most fascinating trips that one could ever do.
This region of Kenya is simply breath taking with spectacular scenery, allowing you to marvel at stunning landscapes and understand an age-old culture that remains true to its roots. Of course, being Africa, this adventure also has its fill of wildlife, but away from the throngs of tourists.
Being one of my favourite parts of Africa to take a luxury safari holiday, I am delighted to share this inspiration for a fabulous private flying safari that explores the last frontier of untouched wilderness in Kenya and takes in some of my very top recommendations for experiences and accommodation:
Start off with flying privately from Nairobi to Laikipia. This is a beautiful region filled with wildlife, sitting north of the equator. The landscape is semi-arid so attracts all sorts of species entirely unique that you won’t see elsewhere, such as the rare Grévy's zebra, Beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, beautiful vulturine guinea fowl, Somali ostrich and the fabulous gerenuk antelope which browses from the leaves of shrubs by standing on its rear legs.
I recommend staying at family owned Ol Malo on the edge of the Laikipia escarpment with the most breath-taking views. The lodge itself is hewn from the local rock and you are welcomed to the family home with warmth! Most of the food is grown here and is wonderfully fresh and organic.
Apart from safari drives, there is horse riding, walking and camel trekking, with the option to sleep out one night beneath the stars on a raised star-bed perched amongst the branches of a tree. I thoroughly recommend including this as an exciting part of your vacation, it is a worthwhile experience to sleep with all the sounds the wildlife around you, which you hear from the safety of your platform.
After three nights at Ol Malo, you will be flown north to the Suguta Valley and Lake Turkana. ‘The Jade Sea’ was discovered by Count Teleki on his pioneering venture in 1888 and is a brilliant jade green caused by algae in its waters.
Spend two nights of your vacation at the charming but simple Lobolo Camp on the shores of the lake. On your flight here you will have the most incredible experiences, swooping over ancient calderas and through the Painted Valley.
Whilst at Lobolo, you go out by boat and explore the islands. In the evening, perhaps after a swim, you sit around the campfire and watch the mesmerising, rhythmic dancing of the local Turkana tribes. On another day, visit one of the villages, learning about this tribe which lives in some of the harshest condition
You can also have a scenic flight that takes you over the Elyie Springs and the Teleki Volcano, Lake Logipi to marvel at the flocks of flamingos and pelicans within the caldera lake, past Cathedral Rock and touch down in the sand dunes of the Suguta Valley. Your stay here benefits the local Turkana population and directly assists a school that we are raising funds to establish – Lake Turkana school.
From here, fly to Mount Nyiro where your next lodge, Desert Rose, perches 5500ft above sea level on the verdant, cedar lined slopes. The mountain environment is a real oasis after the arid lands around Lake Turkana.
I recommend spending at least one night in this lovely eco-lodge. You come here mostly for the walking; there are beautiful waterfalls where you can have picnic lunch and enjoy being amongst the coolness and the palms and rocks!
The following day, after a leisurely breakfast, you fly to the Northern Frontier district and the Matthews Mountains. Here you have a choice of staying at one of two places. The first option is exclusive-use Kalepo tented camp, which is just beautiful! This luxury camp is shaded by numerous trees on the riverbank, which is usually dry with short, seasonal rain which soon sinks into the sand.
Herds of elephant can be seen and heard walking down the riverbed in search of new pods and berries. There is fabulous walking here, too and finally, this is one of the best places to explore the authentic culture of the semi-Nomadic Samburu tribe.
Walk with them to their singing wells where they feed water to their beautiful Boran cattle and goats. Visit their village and if you are lucky, you might be able to watch them embark on a Warrior’s Olympics – a medley of athletic games, for which the winner is handsomely rewarded. This has replaced the requirement previously to slay a lion in order to prove warrior prowess and manhood! This is a gorgeous camp, owner managed by Storm and Rob who welcome you to their home.
The alternative is Sarara Camp, which has more wildlife than Kalepo but is drier. Sarara is a fabulous conservation initiative which benefits the local community. It is possible to see elephant, leopard and lots of antelope at Sarara, especially in front of the camp drinking from the waterhole, and you can also venture out on safari drives, night drives and walks with your expert guides.
Again, a family-owned lodge, the tents have wonderful views. There is also the option to sleep in their tree houses! Again, this is a very cultural area, and as with Kalepo Camp, you have a good chance of witnessing the singing wells, where the Samburu tribe develop a rhythmic song and chant whilst sating their cattle’s thirst.
By staying at Sarara, you benefit the Northern Rangelands Trust, a membership organisation serving 40 local communities across Kenya aimed at enhancing the lives of the local communities and promoting conservation.
After two nights here, you fly back to Nairobi by private charter. On the way stop at Reteti, the elephant sanctuary where orphaned elephant calves are taken to rehabilitate before being released back into the wild again as an established herd. Your donation goes back into assisting in making this fabulous project possible!
The Explorations Company curates each safari according to your requirements so this serves as a suggestion only, and your private flying safari to Kenya will be entirely tailored to your own interests. Please do get in touch if you would like more information about luxury safaris and vacations to Africa, Asia and Latin America. Or if you would just like to dream for now, you can do so at our Video Library.
Images and video by kind courtesy of Air Kenya, Ol Malo, Sarara Camp, Scenic Air Safaris, Desert Rose Lodge and Kalepo Camp, Ami Vitale, [email protected], Mariusz Marek Ostrowski