Reviews of Kicheche Laikipia
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
This was our first stay at a Kicheche camp and we were certainly not disappointed. The trip in from the Nanyuki airstrip is not long, and we were initially concerned that it would feel too close to town and not feel like we were in the wilderness. However, once we arrived at the camp, its setting feels remote and uncrowded. Managers Andy and Sonja are gracious and welcoming and we thoroughly enjoyed dining with them at each meal. Sonja always joined us for lunch outdoors overlooking the waterhole, and Andy joined the guests each evening for dinner.
The tents are luxurious, with great lighting and ample hot water supplied even though the camp is very eco-friendly and runs on solar power. The charging station for our batteries is located in the lovely dining tent. The staff was attentive and helpful, and even the askari who escorted us to and from our tents after dark greeted us by name and asked after our welfare whenever we saw them. The camp does have an electric wire fence around it to keep the large game out, but we nevertheless needed guards to accompany us in the evening.
The food was wonderful, fresh, and plentiful and I'm sure that we gained weight during our stay. Sonja is responsible for the menus, and even has published a cookbook of some of the camp favorites. It was hard to pass up the delicious desserts that were served at both lunch and dinner! A variety of wines were offered each day, and we know that the kitchen is able to accommodate special dietary needs.
We stayed five nights and had Peter as our guide each day. He was quite new to this camp, but did a great job of finding wonderful things to see and we never felt crowded. In the Ol Pejeta area, the wildlife is not as plentiful as in some other areas we have visited, so the guides must work harder to find it. But our patience was amply rewarded with great sightings of cheetah, lions, giraffe, and of course, rhinos.
Rhino viewing is amazing in the Ol Pejeta area. We saw both Southern white and black rhinos, and visited the conservancy headquarters to see the few remaining Northern whites and heard the story of their attempts to save them from extinction. We did a morning walk there with a ranger, and then returned another day to see how they train the team of search and attack dogs that defend against poachers. We had the fun experience of hiding in the bush and being tracked by a bloodhound to demonstrate his searching skills to us.
We enjoyed this camp very much and highly recommend it.
Kicheche Laikipia review
There was quite a cold wind blowing for the duration of our stay, which we felt may have contributed to the wildlife being rather hunkered down for a fair bit of the time, and certainly made for pretty dusty conditions. We were however very taken with the beautiful landscape and fantastic views of Mt Kenya, the Aberdares etc and managed to get some lovely sightings including a superb black rhino on our last morning.
The tents were very spacious and secluded, though certainly on the chilly side early in the morning and in the evening - the hot water bottles and blankets provided were much required and appreciated. Water flasks were supplied for drinking, tooth cleaning etc and the other non potable water for washing was very brackish (not so great for sensitive skin . . . ).
We found the manager Andy a charming and professional host (unfortunately Sonja was unwell during our visit and we did not get to meet her) and the food almost too plentiful; three courses at lunch as well as at dinner was a bit overwhelming even for us after a day or two! Special thanks however are due to the camp for all the efforts they made with a specific dietary request we had.
Finally we really enjoyed the short game walk we did and in particular our visit to the Northern White Rhino sanctuary which was a very nicely done and educational experience.
It doesn't get any better than this!!!
After our slightly disappointing departure from Campi ya Kanzi, we approached Kicheche Laikipia with some trepidation. Any worries were immediately dispelled. We were met at the airstrip by Albert, who was our guide for the rest of the trip and proved to be wonderful.
Arriving at the camp an hour later, we were met by Andy who showed us to our beautiful lodge and sat us down with a drink to gently explain how the system worked and what was available to us. All the time sitting by their lovely lake watching an elephant walk by on the other side. Sonja joined us for a late lunch which was absolutely delicious and we received some good advice from other guests, suggesting half portions in future!
The game drives with Albert were wonderful, including breakfasts and sundowners, seeing lots of animals, birds and plants, all in beautiful surroundings. Albert was so considerate, always seeming to know where to stop the vehicle for the best light for photos. His knowledge and gentle humour totally charmed us for the three days we were with him. When he took us back to the airstrip at the end of our stay, he even insisted on staying until our plane took off.
Andy meahwhile, sorted out an itinerary for us, including a visit to the rhino sanctuary and a guided walk with Ranger Robert. At this point Russell developed toothache and we had to disrupt everything and be driven to Nanyuki for antibiotics, ;meaning that Andy had to re-organise our itinerary which he took in his stride. Nothing was too much trouble.
The food was fantastic, as was the attention to detail. William and Nixon, our two serving staff were so professional and charming as was our night security, Bernard. They all always had a smile and a chat and were interested to hear what we had been doing. Once the guests who were there when we arrived had departed, we were the only ones left and there was always Andy or Sonja waiting to welcome us back and entertain us with their charming stories at lunch and in the evenings.
Andy and Sonja are the most charming hosts anyone could wish for and their lovely, relaxed management style obviously engendered great respect and affection from their staff which was reflected in their wonderful treatment of us. We were sad to leave and will be back if possible.
Wonderful stay at Kicheche
The food at Kicheche is absolutely superb but I had to move to half portions and still ended up skipping one or two meals. Sonja's reputation as a cook is well-deserved but I couldn't do the food justice. The tents are huge and nicely decorated. All the staff were friendly and anxious to be of service and there were one or two lovely unexpected touches such as the hot water bottles when we went on a night game drive.
Also excellent is the resident guide Andrew (silver-qualified and thinking about gold). He added immeasurably to my safari experience; he was so knowledgeable about the birds and animals we saw. He was able to explain why an animal was behaving in a particular manner.
There were so many special moments; feeding the 3-month-old baby rhino, being surrounded by a pack of very curious Spotted Hyenas (including one who tried to eat the spare tyre cover), watching a pair of lions stalk and fail to kill a warthog.
Kicheche Laikipia review
An excellent camp, very comfortable, excellent food. We really appreciated the flexibility to focus on game viewing. We had a very good bush breakfast every day.
Guiding was superb. Ol Pejeta is a lovely area to visit (especially the quieter western side where the camp is located). We saw few other vehicles and wildlife viewing was excellent and varied. It was also very interesting to see how the conservancy model operated. Bean bags in the vehicle for photographers were much appreciated.
The camp make a big effort to make your stay special with personal attention.
Kicheche Laikipia - super camp !
We really enjoyed our stay at Kicheche Laikipia.
The assistant manager - Andrew, made us feel very welcome and was very entertaining company at lunch and dinner.
The poor man even ate vegetarian meals along with ourselves . I felt very guilty and was sure he'd have preferred a nice steak or something.
Our guide was Onesmus .He gave us some amazing wildlife viewings including a lioness moving her cubs one by one !
Cheetah mom and two youngsters, hyena - babies with no fur , elephants - And of course rhino !
He really knows the area well and unlike many wildlife areas , he operated without the help of radio information from other guides.
We also met Sonia - one of the managers. Unfortunately we missed Andy (her husband) as he was not well when we visited.
( Hope he is OK now ?)
The camp is situated in the wilderness area of Ol Pejeta and benefits from having very few vehicles in the area which gives a wonderful "wilderness" feeling. The camp's vehicle can go offroad if need be - which can be helpful.
We had a night drive there , which I haven't done for years and was such a different way of seeing animals.
We also visited the East side of the conservancy , which is open to the public ( not that the West side is closed to the public but they don't maintain the roads or put up road signs - so drivers have to know the area really well to drive there)
We had excellent sightings in the East as well as the West however - so if you only visit the East you will see a lot.
Kicheche is a small camp of 6 tents - which felt a really nice size.
It overlooks a waterhole - which at the time of our visit was getting to be a puddle ! I hope the rains the following week sorted that out for the animals .
Nevertheless, puddle or not - many animals , including a herd of 11 elephants visited for a drink.
The camp has a low electric fence around it which keeps elephants and buffalo away from the tents.
Laikipia was a bit colder than I expected - we visited at the end of August and on our first game drive ( staring at 6am) I was wearing about 4 layers and was still cold.However , it was very windy - so that probably made it feel colder than it was.
Each day got a little warmer while we were there and if there is no wind it's probably OK.
As soon as there was no sun - it was cold . First time I've had a sundowner inside the vehicle :) Recommend bringing a pair of gloves.
As regards the accomodation - the tent was very spacious with wardrobe, desk,chairs and table inside . Chairs outside on the deck. The usual bathroom arrangement behind a screen and another wardrobe in there too.
Drinking water is provided in an urn in the tent and two metal water bottles for you to use either in the tent or on a game drive.
Good to see so many camps trying to discourage the use of plastic water bottles.
Lighting is solar-powered so rather dim ( bring a head-torch)
Hot showers are available in the evening automatically and at other times by request.
Hot water bottles in the bed and extra duvet and blankets available.
Food was amazing ! We are both vegetarian and were astonished each mealtime by the inventiveness of the chef.
I know Sonia is a foodie ( she revealed her addiction to recipe books to us) and many of the recipes are ones she has chosen.
We ate no processed food at all while we were there and left feeling very healthy indeed.
I did pack two chocolate bars in case I should feel the need for something sweet - but both bars remained untouched.
The presentation of both the food and the dining table would not have been out of place at a top London restaurant.
I would say that three courses at each meal was really too much for us and they could make life easier for themselves by doing a salad buffet for lunch and not bother with a hot course ( delicious though it was).
The dining tent had two long wooden dining tables in it and a fire at each end ( as well as one outside)
The morning game drives were marvellous and much longer than you normally get.
We tended to go out at 6am - have a picnic breakfast in the bush - return about noon - then lunch was at 1pm.
Tea and cake overlooking the waterhole and it's visitors at 4pm - then a game drive from 4:30 pm til 7pm-ish
Dinner was at 8pm or 7:30 if doing a night drive.
There is a small shop on site that I only discovered the day we were leaving. Bought a nice fleece, hat, tee-shirt etc..
The visit to the rhino sanctuary was really good and well worth doing.
I only realised as we left that nobody had asked for a donation.
I think we paid $35 each and obviously tipped the rangers too. They do a great job there and it was so lovely to see Sudan, Baraka, Najin and Fatu living in a lovely spacious enclosure under the African sun. ( Baraka is a local anyway - but you get the point). We didn't get around to seeing the chimpanzee sanctuary unfortunately ,due to lack of time - and we had seen chimpanzees both wild and in a sanctuary last year in Uganda. Sorry to Sweetwaters - maybe next time?
Poor Baraka had a microfilaria infection when we were there which they were trying to treat.
He is very happy for an old, blind rhino ! Loved feeding him alfalfa.
The whole experience was really enjoyable but over in a whoosh - so try and savour each moment while you are there.
I recommend downloading a map of the area too , as I had not realised how separate the camps and the sanctuaries are.
Excellent food and great guiding at Kicheche
For three out of our four nights we were the only guests here so it was strange having the camp to ourselves.
The food here was probably the best we've had anywhere in Africa. Michelin style in the bush with beautiful presentation. The staff were lovely. They gave Adam a birthday cake with candles and performed a Swahili rendition of Happy Birthday with makeshift musical instruments and dancing. Very special memory for him.
Unfortunately the Wild Dogs haven't been seen on the conservancy since April, having been regularly sighted, so that was a major disappointment but we had some great lion and rhino sightings. We had a very good guide in Onesmus who was willing to go the extra mile and tried very hard to find us some of the less fashionable game like Beisa Oryx and Patas Monkey, sadly neither with success.
The Night Drive wasn't particularly productive either but win some lose some.
Great Service, Food, and Wildlife
Great restaurant quality food. Friendly service and beautiful location.Read more about the whole safari
Kicheche Laikipia review
We received a very warm welcome on arrival to the camp. The position was beautiful overlooking a waterhole where eland, waterbuck and elephants drank. The tents were very well equipped and had hot and cold water. The food and drink were excellent.
We travelled early in June and it was cold in the early mornings and late evenings. We wished we had taken two fleeces! However the hot water bottles kept us warm in bed at night.
We were combining this with a trip to the Masai Mara so our focus here was on things we would not see in the Mara and we were not disappointed. We saw both white and black rhino everyday and at close quarters, as well as reticulated giraffe (which are beautiful), Grevy's zebra, and oryx. Unfortunately the wild dogs were not denning in the area when we were there. However there was plenty of other wildlife such as lions, elephants, plains game etc so it provided a diverse wildlife experience. This was enhanced by the excellence of our guide, Onesmus.
Kicheche Laikipia review
Andy and Sonia looked after me very, very well indeed.
My Guide Onesmas was excellent. We got on very well and his abilty to 'read' my mind in what we wanted to see was spot on.
Andy and Onesmas included in part of their desire to track (and help assist the tracking team) for the wild dog research project.
We took Andy's 'configured' tracker pc out for a trial with the channels of the collars on one of the dogs to assist locate the pack.
We found (not due to the pc as it turned out) but through good spotting on teh three (maybe Onesmas) behalf.
Andys diner table stories very interesting and Sonia's recipes she compiles for the camp (and the chef's to fathom out) are just superb. Different meal every night as I understand it.
The staff in that camp are just a great bunch and can see teh team all working well together.