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Laikipia Plateau

Overview

Wildlife

Birds

Best Time To Visit

Weather & Climate

Getting There

Malaria & Safety

Overview – Laikipia Plateau
The Laikipia Plateau offers a unique Kenyan safari experience. Unlike national parks, Laikipia is dotted with community-run conservancies. These conservancies provide amazing wildlife viewing, stunning scenery, and luxurious tented camps and lodges, often alongside commercial cattle ranching. It’s a prime area for spotting the Big Five, especially rhinos. Laikipia is also home to many indigenous communities, including the Laikipia Maasai and Samburu.
Laikipia Plateau
Best Time To Go
High Season
Size
Altitude
Pros & Cons
Excellent wildlife viewing with all of the Big Five easy to spot.
Wildlife densities are comparable to those in the Masai Mara National Reserve.
A variety of experiences and accommodation styles available.
Night drives, horseback riding, and walking safaris offered.
Stunning views of Mt. Kenya from some conservancies.
The presence of cattle can lessen the wilderness feel.
Most conservancies are accessible only to high-end safaris.
Wildlife
The Laikipia Plateau offers outstanding wildlife viewing. You can easily spot all of the Big Five, with unmatched sightings of both black and white rhinos. All big cats are accustomed to vehicles, and the area boasts the only viable wild dog population in the northern hemisphere, though they are hard to see. Night drives provide a great opportunity to spot nocturnal animals like genets, bush babies, and aardvarks.

Guided game drives, including night drives, are the main activities in the Laikipia Plateau conservancies. All guided drives can go off-road, allowing for close-up wildlife encounters. Self-guided drives are only permitted in Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Other great activities include horseback riding and walking safaris, the latter led by an armed guide.
Scenery
Laikipia is one of Kenya’s most beautiful regions. Semi-arid plains are dotted with basalt outcrops and lush, forested slopes, often set against the stunning backdrop of the snowcapped peak of Mt. Kenya, which appears magically when the clouds part. The scenic Ewaso Nyiro and Ewaso Narok Rivers cut through the plateau, creating spectacular rocky gorges.
Weather & Climate
Laikipia, being near the equator, has fairly consistent temperatures throughout the year. The climate is governed by two main seasons: the Dry season (June to September) and the Wet season (October to May). During the Dry season, there’s plenty of sunshine, though occasional rain is possible. The Wet season has three distinct stages: light rain, moderate rain, and heavy rain.
Best Time To Visit
You can go on safari in Laikipia year-round. However, the best time for wildlife viewing is during the dry months from July to September and, to a lesser extent, January to March. During these times, animals gather at reliable water sources due to the scarcity of water in the bush. Roads can become very bad after heavy rains in April, May, and November, causing many lodges to close. December to March is the best time for birdwatching.
​Wildlife & Animals – Laikipia Plateau

Laikipia Plateau hosts all of the Big Five. Each ranch on the plateau offers a unique wildlife experience, with some having higher animal densities than others. Overall, wildlife viewing here is excellent. The area is home to large numbers of elephants and many predators. Most reserves also have healthy populations of both black and white rhinos.

Elephant
Giraffe
Hippo
Buffalo
Zebra
Wildebeest
White Rhino
Black Rhino
Lion
Leopard
Cheetah
Hyena
Wildlife Highlights

Laikipia hosts more than 70% of the world’s remaining Grevy’s zebras and is a prime location for spotting the striking reticulated giraffe. While wild dogs are present, sightings are not always guaranteed. The region also supports one of Kenya’s most significant lion populations. Additionally, the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary at Ol Pejeta Conservancy offers a safe haven for rescued chimpanzees.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

For the best wildlife viewing at Laikipia Plateau, visit during the dry months from July to September when animals gather around water sources. January to March is also a good time to visit. Be aware that some lodges close in April, May, and November due to rain. The region’s black cotton soil can become very muddy, making it easy to get stuck after heavy rain.

Wildlife Photos
Laikipia Plateau
​Birds – Laikipia Plateau
Laikipia Plateau is a fantastic birding destination with over 350 recorded species, including many unique to northern Kenya, like the impressive Somali ostrich. The plateau’s diverse habitats blend the arid north with the more fertile south, allowing you to see ground-dwelling birds like sandgrouse near colorful forest species like turacos, as well as grassland birds such as bustards. Raptors are also abundant here.

Notable Birds in Laikipia Plateau

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Birding Specials – Treats for Avid Birders
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Best Time for Bird Watching

Laikipia Plateau is great for bird watching year-round, with the best months being December to March. Migratory birds from Europe and North Africa arrive from November to April, coinciding with the Wet season (October to May) when many species show their breeding plumage. Note that some lodges close in April, May, and November. For general wildlife viewing, the best time is during the dry months from July to September, with January to March also being good.

Facts & Figures

Bird Species

450+

Migratory Birds

Nov to Apr

Best Time To Visit – Laikipia Plateau

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Dec

Wildlife viewing in the Laikipia Plateau conservancies is excellent year-round, but heavy rain can sometimes disrupt safaris. Road conditions can be challenging during the Wet season (October to May), especially in April, May, and November when rain is heaviest, causing some lodges to close. The best time for wildlife viewing is during the Dry season from July to September. January to March is also a good period for spotting wildlife.
Best Time
July to September: Little rain
High Season
June to October and December to March: Some lodges get busy
Low Season
April, May, and November: Roads might be in bad condition, and some lodges are closed
Best Weather
June to September and December to February: Less rain
Worst Weather
April, May, October, and November: Long and short rains
June to September – Dry Season
Sunny Days with Little Rain: Enjoy mostly sunny weather with minimal rain.
Easier Wildlife Spotting: Animals gather around water sources, making them easier to see.
Better Visibility: Thinner vegetation allows for clearer views of wildlife.
Good Road Conditions: Roads are generally in good condition, and off-road driving is allowed in some reserves.
Book Early: Some lodges and reserves can be fully booked months in advance.
Dust in the Air: High levels of dust can sometimes reduce visibility.
October to May – Wet Season
Quieter Reserves: Enjoy less crowded reserves with potential low-season rates.
Excellent Bird Watching: Migratory birds are present, offering fantastic birding opportunities.
Newborn Animals: Many animals give birth, providing the chance to see newborns.
Lush Scenery: The landscape is lush, and the air is clear and crisp, offering stunning views of Mt. Kenya when clouds lift.
Mini Dry Season: December to February or March can feel like a mini Dry season.
Long Grass: Tall grass can make spotting smaller animals more challenging.
Muddy Roads: Roads can become muddy, making off-road driving impossible.
Rain Impact: Rain can occasionally interfere with game drives.
Wildlife Photos
Laikipia Plateau
Weather & Climate – Laikipia Plateau
The climate at Laikipia Plateau is cool and temperate, with consistent temperatures year-round due to its proximity to the equator. Daytime temperatures average in the mid-twenties Celsius (seventies Fahrenheit), but it cools down significantly at night. It’s strongly recommended to wear warm clothing for early morning game drives.
Dry Season – June to September

The Dry season at Laikipia Plateau features mostly sunny days, though rain is possible at any time. Daytime temperatures are around 24°C (75°F), while nighttime and early morning temperatures drop to about 12°C (54°F). Warm clothing is recommended for early morning game drives.

 

June & July

Weather: Mostly sunny days with occasional rain.

Temperature: Afternoon highs around 24°C (75°F).

Tip:Bring warm clothing for chilly early morning game drives.

 

August & September

Weather: Rainfall slightly increases in August.

Temperature: Afternoon temperatures reach up to 24°C (75°F).

Wet Season – October to May

A drier period from December to February breaks up the Wet season, separating the short rains from the long rains. Days are often overcast, but it rarely rains all day. Mornings are cold, so warm clothing is necessary.

 

October & November – ‘Short Rains’

Weather: Rains usually start in October.

Temperature: Afternoon highs around 24°C (75°F).

 

December, January & February

Weather: Less rainfall during this period, which separates the short and long rains, though some days will still see rain.

Temperature: Cooler mornings; warm clothing recommended.

 

March, April & May – ‘Long Rains’

Weather: April is the wettest month. Rain is frequent but doesn’t usually last all day.

Temperature: Early morning temperatures average around 12°C (54°F). Roads can become slippery, making driving more challenging.

Laikipia Plateau
Laikipia Plateau Photos
Laikipia Plateau
​Getting There – Laikipia Plateau

Your entry point to Kenya will likely be Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), located 15 km (9 mi) southeast of Nairobi.

 

The drive to Laikipia Plateau takes about 4 to 8 hours from Nairobi and 3 to 7 hours from Lake Nakuru National Park, depending on which Laikipia reserve you visit. You can also combine a visit to Laikipia with Meru National Park and/or Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. Laikipia is often included as part of a 4×4 tour of the country, which comes with a driver-guide.

*Driving times are approximate, so it’s important to account for potential delays.
Main Park Map
laikipia plateau map
Airlines & Ticket Prices

Please use Skyscanner to find available airlines and ticket prices for flights to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO).

Domestic Flights

Many people travel to Laikipia by plane from Nairobi or other parks, as all the reserves in Laikipia have airstrips. Charter flights between parks are typically arranged by tour operators as part of the tour package.

 

Scheduled flights are available from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport (WIL), located 6 km (4 mi) south of Nairobi, to some reserves in the Laikipia Plateau.

 

These include:

 

Air Kenya: Flies to Lewa Downs or Loisaba from Wilson Airport, Nanyuki, Meru, Samburu, and the Masai Mara.

 

Safarilink: Connects Lewa Downs and Loisaba with Wilson Airport and several Masai Mara airstrips.

Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements

Please visit our “Kenya Page” for detailed information on passport, visa, Vaccination, and other entry requirements.

​Malaria & Safety – Laikipia Plateau
Safety

In our opinion, visiting the Laikipia Plateau is generally safe, especially on an organized tour. Independent travelers should always get local advice before setting out. For more general travel advice about Laikipia and Kenya, check the government travel advisories on our ‘Safety & Security – “Kenya Page“.

Malaria & Vaccinations

Before traveling to Kenya, several vaccinations may be required. Malaria is present in Laikipia, so taking antimalarials is recommended. Using mosquito repellent (preferably those containing DEET) and covering up in the evening can significantly reduce the risk of mosquito bites.

Wildlife Viewing

Following your guide’s instructions will ensure your safety while viewing wildlife in Laikipia. For more details, please read the ‘Wildlife Viewing Safety Precautions’ section below.

Photo Gallery of Laikipia Plateau

Map of Laikipia Plateau

Photo Gallery of Laikipia Plateau

Main Park Map

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