In June 2013, Lewa became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in recognition of its outstanding natural beauty and its importance as a wildlife habitat. Additionally, it features on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Green List and in 2014 it received a silver award from the World Responsible Tourism Awards.
Without doubt, Lewa is a special site. Its plains ripple elegantly at the feet of gentle rolling hills. Its wetlands provide an interesting contrast to the savanna areas and, of course, ample water for wildlife. And it is home to the Ngare Ndare Forest, the only indigenous forest in all Kenya! This lush collection of trees includes African Olive and Red Cedar over 200 years old. Buffalo and elephant are often seen traversing the woods on their way to the fertile slopes of Mount Kenya, to the south. The Forest contains the Ngare Ndare River too, rising from a spring, cascading in exhilarating waterfalls, and rushing through the Conservancy. We thoroughly recommend a trip to Ngare Ndare as part of your stay in Lewa!
In addition to buffalo and elephant, Lewa has lion, leopard and rhino – so all Big Five! The rhino population deserves a special mention, as just over 12 per cent of Kenya’s black rhino live here. Conservation efforts began in 1984 and are ongoing. A grand total of 64 white rhino thrive in the Conservancy too and in 2014 no rhinos were lost to poachers – an outstanding achievement!
The Grevy’s zebra is another species doing well at Lewa, with the support of partners Marwell Wildlife, the Grevy’s Zebra Trust and Al Ain Zoo. Tall, with rounded ears and a slimmer stripe pattern than plains zebra, Grevy’s zebra are a delight to behold. The Conservancy contains over 300 individuals, enjoying the grazing on the plains.
Other predators at Lewa include cheetah and wild dog. Lewa plays host also to a group described as the ‘Northern Specialty Species’ – Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich, Beisa oryx and gerenuk. These are well worth looking out for on game drives!
Lewa’s birdlife is very impressive as well. With over 350 species to spot, this really is a paradise for keen birders! Feathered friends here include grebes, pelicans, cormorants, herons and egrets, storks, ibises and spoonbills, flamingo, ducks and geese, loads of raptors, quails and francolins, guineafowls, rails, bustards, stilts and avocets, plovers, sandpipers, doves and pigeons… remember to pack the binocs!
There really is a lot going on at Lewa. Visitors here can enjoy not only great game drives, game walks and birding galore, but also opportunities to get involved in the Conservancy’s conservation programmes and to get to know the local people. One of our favourite parts of Kenya!