1. OL PEJETA
As well as conserving wildlife, preserving wilderness and providing sanctuary to endangered species, Ol Pejeta has a host of activities that’ll keep even the most active visitor happy. Those who are interested in their innovative conservation techniques can ‘get their hands dirty’ working behind the scenes with the rangers. Tracking lions, working with anti-poaching dogs, visiting the endangered species boma, participating in feeding time with the chimpanzees and dropping in on the local communities are just some of the ways rangers spend their days. For those who enjoy safari, there are many ways to view the animals and birds: game drives, bush walks, bird watching and more. For the most energetic of all, try a safari on horseback or mountain bike, then slake your appetite with one of Morani Restaurant’s famed burgers or a healthy fresh salad.
2. NGARE NDARE FOREST
This lush forest is dotted with cascading waterfalls, gleaming pools, rugged crags and towering trees. Not only that – according to the Northern Rangelands Trust, it’s the only indigenous forest in Kenya with an expanding canopy cover, some of whose trees are thought to be as much as 200 years old. There’s plenty to do here. The canopy walk – a mesh bridge over 450 meters long, dangling around 15 meters above the ground – takes you through the tops of the trees; if you’re lucky, a black rhino, elephant or buffalo might stroll beneath you. Many walking paths and mountain bike trails meander through the forest and guides are available to show you the way. If you’re brave enough, why not leap from the towering rocks and plunge into the icy water below. Afterwards, if you need a drink, head for Ngare Ndare Village which – it is said – is home to 500 people and 26 bars!
3. MT KENYA WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY
Kenya’s highest mountain, and the second highest in Africa, is home to unique species of flora and fauna; the mountain is a National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and has a Wildlife Conservancy on its shoulders. The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy was started in the 1960s by film star William Holden and TV personality Don Hunt, and immediately seized the interest of the then President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta. The conservancy aims to prevent the extinction of species by breeding endangered species and rehabilitating them into the wild. It also has an animal orphanage for orphaned, injured or abused wild animals, and an education programme that hosts over 10,000 future conservationists. Visitors can become a friend of the conservancy or adopt an animal. The conservancy is now home to 28 species – the rarest of which are breeding herds of mountain bongo and white zebra.
4. NANYUKI TOWN
Nanyuki, previously thought of as a country town, is growing fast and a plethora of new joints have sprung up. For the best kuku wet, head for Checkers – but be ready to wait: this delectable dish takes two hours to make. The Flower Shop has much more than just flowers – come for gifts, cards, artwork, bags, cushions and honey fresh from the flower farms. I love Nanyuki coffee shop has fresh coffee, full breakfasts, light bites and a stash of humorous I Love Nanyuki merchandise. Cape Chestnut has delicious food served in landscaped gardens: don’t miss Friday night tapas or every second Sunday curry buffet and carvery. On the same compound, Cookswell Jikos sell their popular eco-jikos, as well as kilns, eco- charcoal and tree seeds – and they’re happy to offer baking advice too! Le Rustique, which relocated from Nairobi several years ago, continues its tradition of fine dining in a garden atmosphere. Soames Hotel and Jack’s Bar has rooms, a great menu, Wifi and events, all in a comfortable contemporary setting.
5. THOMSON’S FALLS
A striking waterfall that plunges almost 75 meters, Thomson’s Falls is on the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The waterfall, near the town of Nyahururu, can be seen from a viewing platform in the grounds of Thomson’s Falls Lodge; there’s a small charge for entering the platform where there are curio stalls and local traditional dancers. The trail leading down to the foot of the waterfall is a winding path that takes around 20 minutes. After the climb back up, you’ll be ready for a plate filled at the lodge’s plentiful buffet, and perhaps a stiff drink at their bar. The waterfall is named after Scottish geologist and naturalist Joseph Thomson. He also gave his name to the dainty Thomson’s gazelle and – it is said – was the first European to walk from Mombasa to Lake Victoria.