LEWA WILDERNESS -
LEWA WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY, KENYA
Lewa Wilderness is situated within one of Kenya’s major private conservation successes, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, at the foot of Mt Kenya. Lewa Downs has been the Craig family home since 1924, when the Craigs came from England and began raising cattle here. Lewa Wilderness is the original family home of the Craigs and is still home to Will and Emma Craig, who host with their team of professional guides.
Lewa Downs has three extraordinary assets:
Beautiful countryside with exceptional wildlife viewing.
The endangered species – Rhino, both Black and White, Grevy’s Zebra, and Sitatunga.
A major commitment to community development and participation.
"Leave room for the wildlife" has been the Craig ethic since the 1920's. The Wildlife Conservancy is committed to the conservation of wildlife and the diverse habitats found on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya.
A private ranch, a private house, a private paradise - this is Lewa Wilderness.
images of Lewa Wilderness, click Lewa Wilderness
Lewa Wilderness offers nine comfortable, thatched cottages with en-suite bathrooms. Electric lighting is provided by a 240V generator that runs from 0630-1030 & 1800-2230. Travel-size hair dryers can be used in rooms –guests are recommended to bring their own and management needs to be informed. Batteries for video, phone and cameras can be charged in rooms – guests are recommended to bring their own adaptors. There is a mini-bar in each room.
Guests can relax by the fire in Will and Emma's cosy sitting room and share meals around a long banquet table in the open-air dining room. Natural springs, home-raised livestock, and a 5-acre organic garden are transformed by skilled chefs into healthy and delicious food The salt-water pool is refreshing, the stables are full of horses for guests to ride, and the clay tennis court comes equipped with both raquets and balls.
Horizon salt-water swimming pool
Laundry services provided
Credit card facilities – Amex, Visa and Mastercard
Internet access for guests – charged at US$ 2 per min but only when generator is on
Mobile phone networks available
Safe box in the main office
Masseuse on site (extra charge)
The food is wholesome, ranch style and organically grown. All meals are included, including soft drinks, beer, house wines and bottled water with meals.
Lewa Wilderness is located where the Big Five roam at ease and one is almost guaranteed to spot some of the resident black rhino. Marvel at the endangered Grevy's zebra, with 25% of the world's population occuring here. From tracking lion to observing the elusive sitatunga,the wildlife experiences are many.
A professional guiding team leads guests on customized daily safaris and educates them about flora, fauna, animal behaviour, conservation, Lewa history, and more.
During your stay at the Lewa Wilderness, you can enjoy a wide range of activities:
Game viewing: - shared drives, day and night in our open 4 wheel drive vehicles, on horseback (hats and English saddles provide), on camels, and on escorted bush walks
Incredible bird watching
Visits to prehistoric sites
Cultural visits with local communities
Farm and craft tours
Swimming and tennis
Visit Il N’gwesi cultural village
Massage, manicures and pedicures
A Typical Day at Lewa Wilderness
You can choose between a variety of escorted excursions; game drives on the conservancy, local bush walks, or horseback riding. There is some magnificent country to be explored on the flat and in the hills and horseback riding is the perfect way to get right among the plains game: literally a few feet away from browsing giraffe, zebra and eland. The horses have given enormous pleasure to many who have never ridden before. The peace is remarkable, the only sounds being the plod of the horse’s hooves and the singing of birds. The swamp, amid yellow-barked acacia trees, contains a breeding stock of sitatunga, a shy aquatic antelope with long splayed hooves, which enable it to traverse marshy areas. Also, a treetop game lookout nearby is a fine place for observing wildlife.
Animals to be seen at Lewa include elephant, numerous reticulated giraffe, eland, lion, leopard, cheetah, Burchell’s and Grevy’s zebra, Jackson’s hartebeest, greater kudu, Grant’s gazelle, impala, gerenuk, bushbuck, dikdik and many others. Lewa is also one of the few places where one can see Grevy’s zebra and Burchell’s zebra, side-by-side. The conservancy is one of Kenya’s rhino sanctuaries and protects more than 20 black rhino and 20 white rhino.
There is a prehistoric site at Lewa Downs where rough-hewn ancient Acheulian hand axes can be found scattered all over the ground, perhaps a half million years old. If you are interested, a visit to see the working side of the ranch can be arranged. The Craigs are also committed to developing several cottage industries on the fringe of their property and the local community weave attractive carpets from natural wool, sheared from sheep raised on the property, and make furniture from trees felled by elephant. You can visit the carpet and furniture workshops, or these are available for purchase at the small gift boutique as well as other items.
The bird life is superb and lilac-breasted rollers, superb starlings, white-throated bee-eaters and red-fronted barbets are amongst the colourful birds to be found here. When you stand on the rock outcrops, vultures and eagles can be photographed soaring within a few feet. Arriving at the lookout point high on a windy ridge, you can see 17,000’ Mount Kenya glowing crimson in the distant sunset. A short walk to the cliff reveals another surprise; a table and chairs have been set up and the staff are waiting to serve drinks and hors d’oeuvres! The return to the lodge is a night drive with a spotlight, on the lookout for nocturnally active species such as aardvark, caracal, bat-eared fox, honey badger, porcupine, bush baby, mongoose, etc.
Following dinner, you can sip a cocktail or coffee by the fire, enjoy friendly conversation and marvel at the millions of bright stars twinkling brightly in the inky black pollution-free African sky. Looking down towards the south, the four ‘points’ of the Southern Cross can be clearly seen.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Lewa was once a cattle ranch; it then became a heavily guarded black rhino sanctuary, and it is now the headquarters for a non-profit wildlife conservancy, which has gained a world-wide reputation for extending the benefits of conservation beyond its borders.
The Craig/Douglas family first came to Lewa Downs in 1922, and managed it as a cattle ranch for over 50 years. Unlike many other ranchers in the area, they had always valued the wildlife that shared the land with the cattle, and developed wildlife tourism as an additional activity.
By the early 1980s it was uncertain whether any black rhinos would survive in Kenya. Poaching for horn had reduced Kenya's rhinos from some 20,000 in the mid-1970s to a few hundred by 1986. It was clear that the only way to prevent their complete extinction was to create high-security sanctuaries
In 1983 the Craigs and Mrs. Anna Merz - who funded the programme - decided to establish the fenced and guarded Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary at the western end of Lewa Downs. The rhino sanctuary was stocked partly with animals from other reserves and partly from isolated individuals from northern Kenya, whose likely survival in the wild was a matter of months at most. The black rhino that were caught settled down and bred, and white rhino were added.
After ten years, it was clear that the rhinos needed more space, and the sanctuary was expanded to cover the rest of the ranch, and the adjoining Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve .
The perimeter was almost entirely fenced, for security and to ensure that elephants did not raid crops in neighbouring farms, but the ecological connections between Lewa and neighbouring wildlife areas were maintained by leaving gaps in the fence for animal movements. At the same time the entire property was converted to a wildlife sanctuary, as the Craig family handed over the management of the ranch to a non-profit organization - the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Read more about Lewa on their website: http://www.lewa.org/
Kinanjui Lesenteria was the Head of Security at LWC at its inception in 1995 but he has worked for the Craigs since 1966. His first job was to protect domestic and wild animals from poachers. Later, when Ian Craig left school, Kinanjui was given the responsibility of teaching him about hunting and wildlife. In the ten years that the two spent out together in the bush an enduring friendship developed.
A born hunter, Kinanjui had an unparalleled knowledge, respect and understanding of wildlife. So, when hunting was banned in 1977, there was nobody better equipped to protect and care for the rhino and other endangered species at Lewa. In 1997 Kinanjui, an Ndorobo Maasai, persuaded the Ndrorobo Maasai communities of Il Ngwesi and Namunyak of Ian’s integrity and to accept his help in building a lodge as a tourist attraction. Kinanjui retired in 2001, but he is still visiting Lewa on a regular basis.
Lewa Wilderness is closed for the month of November.
By daily schedule flight (via Nanyuki) to Lewa Downs.
By private air charter directly to Lewa Downs airstrip.
Lewa Downs airstrip is approx. 30 mins drive from Lewa Wilderness.
By road, five hour drive from Nairobi.
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History and General information about Kenya, click More
For information about the Kenya's National Parks & Reserves, click Kenya