The Lewa–Borana region made headlines in 2014, with the decision to remove the fence that had formed a boundary between the Lewa and Borana wildlife conservancies. The resulting area is the largest rhino sanctuary in Kenya, a must-visit for rhino fans! Initially known as the Lewa–Borana Wildlife Conservancy, it’s now termed the Lewa–Borana Landscape. Guests can enjoy conservation activities involving the hefty herbivores, as well as heading out on traditional big game safaris via guided game drives and walks.
The Lewa–Borana Landscape is situated in Central Kenya, specifically within Laikipia County. To Laikipia’s south-west lies the famous Great Rift Valley, while Mount Kenya stands majestically to the county’s south-east. Lewa–Borana covers almost 38,000 square kilometres of plains, woodlands, and wetlands.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy was established in 1983. At that time, it was known as the Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary. Come June 2013, Lewa became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in recognition of its outstanding natural beauty and its importance as a wildlife habitat. The Borana region is relatively new to rhino conservation, as the former settler farm welcomed its founding population of 21 individuals in August 2014. With the merging of Lewa and Borana, an immense rhino sanctuary has been formed.
The big five & other wildlife in Lewa-Borana Landscape
The diverse ecosystems within the Lewa–Borana Landscape provide homes for all sorts of wildlife. As well as rhino, big game highlights comprise lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo – that’s all the Big Five! Another species that has benefited from conservation endeavours is the Grevy’s zebra. Tall, with rounded ears and a slimmer stripe pattern than plains zebra, the Grevy’s is a delight to behold. The area contains over 300 individuals, enjoying the grazing on the plains.
Other predators to watch out for include cheetah and wild dog. And Lewa–Borana also plays host to a group described as the ‘Northern Specialty Species’ – Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich, Beisa oryx, and gerenuk. These are fun to find while you’re on vehicle and walking safaris!
The landscape’s birdlife is very impressive as well. With over 350 species to spot, this really is a paradise for keen birders! They 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 binoculars!
Activities in Lewa-Borana landscape
A great range of things to do is available in the Lewa–Borana Landscape. In the list below, we indicate which camps and lodges are particularly good for any activity.
Expertly guided game drives- These tend to take place during early morning and late afternoon into evening. The safari vehicles can cover a lot of ground, making for lots of sightings of the landscape’s wildlife!
Walking safaris- Also led by knowledgeable and experienced guides, walks in Lewa–Borana aim to showcase the smaller lives of this vast landscape as experienced at Kifaru House. You’ll come to know more than you thought possible about the plants, insects, and birdlife.
Horse safaris- See it all from the saddle at Borana Lodge & Lewa Wilderness, with this slightly different take on the classic safari experience! You’ll be able to get in amongst the landscape’s plains herds, for thrillingly close encounters.
Camel safaris- This activity consists of strolling through Lewa–Borana and adjacent Maasai community conservation areas in the company of camels can be experienced at Lewa Wilderness.
Cultural experiences- These include excursions as offered by Sirikoi Lodge into local villages to interact with the people and find out all about their ways of life. You can also take a trip to a local school.
Conservation activities- There are loads of opportunities to go behind the scenes in Lewa–Borana and participate in some of the landscape’s commendable conservation work. At Lewa Safari Camp for example, you could observe a tracker dog demonstration, learn about security operations, visit the elephant underpass, and take part in a health outreach programme.
Time of year to travel
The best months to visit Lewa–Borana are July through to October. This is Kenya’s dry season, when water sources dwindle and species gather in impressive concentrations around the scarce supplies. January to March is a good period to visit, as is June. November and December witness the early rains, while April and May see the main rains. Visiting during wet weather can be risky – wildlife is more difficult to spot in fully grown grasses, animals are widely dispersed throughout the area, and some properties (such as Lewa Wilderness) actually close in November. However, the rains do result in beautifully lush scenery!
Top travel tips
- If you’re looking for the perfect balance of fantastic wildlife and a diverse range of activities, the Lewa–Borana Landscape is the ideal spot and home to one of Kenya’s most successful conservation stories!
- This landscape offers some of the best lodge-based riding safaris in Kenya and it’s an area that has something for everyone, appealing to all ages.
- And every year at the end of June, the landscape sets the stage for the Safaricom Marathon, an event that raises funds for the ever-important conservation initiatives involved in saving Kenya’s wildlife. It’s a great opportunity for anyone seeking a physical challenge alongside a superb safari!
Get in touch with our Kenya travel experts to find out more about planning your tailor-made safari vacation.