Laikipia. I think I am moving there soon. Sam and I made a commitment in 2018 that we would keep going to Laikipia to see new conservancies. So when we were thinking of what to do for NYE- it seemed like there was no better plan – then yet another conservancy in Laikipia. Now I have heard of Lolldaiga Hills and once even camped on my Maasai friend Shuel’s land opposite the hills. So I was super excited when I found out that they have a lovely farmhouse and campsites for the public. The first time I asked in 2018, they told me about their lovely farmhouse, which unfortunately was full for NYE. But they did tell me that camping was an option. Now, who am I to turn down a camping option? So Sam and I booked ourselves in for two nights before NYE – and didn’t think we needed a ranger so decided to not get one. We were also being set up next to a dam so we could draw water for our needs directly. Our friends Al-karim and Jade also joined us, which made it all the nicer. We drove from Nairobi and followed the map on the website -easiest way to get there.
We got there first, and just sat around, in our hammock and on mats, while we waited for our friends. While we sat, the beautiful Mount Kenya, goddess in all her glory, smiled upon us. We could even see the snow! Lolldaiga is also a working ranch so we had lots of camels, cattle and sheep come to the dam to drink water.
The first night, us without our rangers, had a lovely coq au vin in the wild (let it not be said that we don’t do gourmet meals in the wild! As we were setting up, we heard a lion grunting – the gate ranger walked by and said there were quite a few resident lions around but that they don’t come close to the camp. When he left, we kept hearing the lion – then he stopped. And two hours later – surprise, surprise – we heard him right behind us! While this is quite ‘adventurous’ (read also spooky!) – we still took precautions – and we were happy that he/she was actually making all those noises. It would be worse if there was only silence – usually predators waiting to attack are quite silent. So I guess this lion was just making themselves known so that we would not freak out – kinda cool! Just before we went to sleep we could hear a hyena not too far off. About 4am, I woke up because I heard sniffing – I saw a snout literally sniff across the front of our tent then walk away, and about a minute later, I heard a hyena cackle outside our tent – any guesses to what was sniffing at our tent? While this was pretty cool after the fact, we definitely wanted a ranger with us the next night.
The next day we had a lazy brunch and hung out on the hammock. Our friend Jade started to cook the most amazing turkey chilli I have ever had! After the first cooking round, we drove around Lolldaiga and are pretty sure we didn’t even see a quarter of it – some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen! Just breathtaking, Honestly, we thought we had seen it all. There were probably more than 5 amazing viewpoints for sundowners. We were in search of ellies that we had heard were plentiful but had only seen one elephant behind and were a little dissapointed about that. That night after some amazing turkey chilli made by Jade, we gazed at the stars, heard all sorts of tales from the ranger, wished upon shooting stars, and finally retired to bed – happy and blissfull.
On our last morning I was the first one up and got out of my tent – as I walked around to the back of the tent to go do my business, I saw a HUGE elephant right there – behind the tent, just looking at me. I guess they knew we had looked for them so they came over instead – so shy though – by the time I woke everyone else up, they had scurried into the bushes and away. Honestly, what an experience!
I have been to some pretty wild campsites – but this one takes the cake! I plan to be back – for those who don’t like camping, you can choose to stay at the farmhouse or Olepangi farmhouse about an hour away – read my next blog for more details.
Happy Gaga-ing in Lolldaiga!