Jacada's own expert travel designer Kit Wong recently travelled to Kenya on a research trip to visit a range of luxurious lodges and spot the region's exciting wildlife. This is her third trip to Kenya, a magical country renowned for its amazing safari and striking landscapes. Immerse yourself and feel inspired with this photo journal filled with snaps taken by Kit on her recent trip. Here, Kit tells us in her own words all about her trip.
The high plains of Laikipia sit to the northeast of the Great Rift Valley, the snowcapped peak of Mount Kenya towering in its southern corner. It is regarded as one of Kenya’s premier wildlife destinations with big cats, huge herds of elephants and endangered black rhinos roaming the plains. Here, I stayed at Segera, a beautiful and modern property. It was love at first sight! The design is contemporary chic, the service is top-notch and the food is wonderful. The hotel team embraces farm-to-table and they grow the food there at the lodge, so it is all incredibly fresh. Every villa has its own distinctive decor, while artworks from some of Africa’s most exciting artists are to be found everywhere. The owner Jochen Zeitz is also behind the world’s largest museum of contemporary African art, which is definitely clear to see.
Segera’s newly built Bird Nest has recently been the focus of a lot of media attention. It is simply stunning! The Bird Nest is a solitary wooden building next to the river which offers guests incredible 360° bird’s-eye views of the African wilderness. At nighttime guests can gaze at the night sky filled with stars, while during the day they can listen to delightful singing birds. This setting really can’t be more romantic. It is set up for two guests to stay there together, so it is perfect for honeymooners.
Next, I headed to Lewa, a private conservancy with a diverse mix of habitats from grassland plains, forest, wetlands and hills. The area is famed for rhinos: after its successful conservation efforts, it is now home to over 12% of Kenya’s black rhino and over 14% of the country’s white rhino. Each time we went on a game drive we spotted many rhinos. I feel so grateful to all of the conservationists who work so hard to provide a safe haven for these treasured animals. Seeing rhinos relaxing in the wild is truly special.
I stayed at Lewa House for several nights. This lodge is a totally different mood to the first property. This is an elegant thatched lodge which feels cosy and reminds me of a cottage. The building is still a family-run lodge and has been in the family for generations: our host Sophie’s great-grandfather came here from the UK after the War. It was fascinating to hear all of Sophie’s family stories during our stay, from eccentric wedding parties held at the house, the tough life and struggles they faced, as well as the fun animal encounters. Her parents even joined us to enjoy drinking sundowners, so it really felt like staying with a friend. Even some of the artworks on show are created by her father so it has a personal family touch. This is definitely another special place.
The Mara Conservancies
Finally, I headed to the Mara conservancies. that border the Maasai Mara National Park. These conservancies are great because they offer exceptional game viewing and far fewer visitors. Much of Kenya’s wildlife lives outside the boundaries of national parks on land that belongs to the local Maasai. A limited number of camps are permitted in the conservancies, helping to create a low-impact, more sustainable form of tourism. No trip to Kenya can skip the iconic Maasai Mara.
Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp
During my stay in this beautiful region, I stayed at Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp. The camp is located on a 6,000-acre private conservancy. There are 11 tents in a rich colonial style, all with ensuite bathrooms. This is the height of luxury in the bush. The wildlife to be seen at the Maasai Mara is always a highlight of every Kenya trip. As it was spring season, I saw lion and cheetah cubs and even baby elephants!! They were so cute, as you can see from my photos, a picture is definitely worth more than a thousand words. My experience here really can’t be any more perfect.