The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy also known as Lewa Downs is one of the most active centers or wildlife sanctuaries established for protection of the northern wildlife which were facing extinction from human settlements. The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is located in Laikipia in the North Eastern Kenya, in Meru County, south of Isiolo town but north of Mount Kenya.
The Lewa conservancy is a wildlife sanctuary incorporating the Ngare Ndare Forest to cover an area of 62,000 acres (250 square kilometers) of pristine African wilderness, the conservancy boasts dramatic views of snowcapped mount Kenya to the south and the arid lands of Tassia and Il Ngwesi to the North .
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy trailing over the plains of Laikipia is prolific with wildlife and its magnificent landforms creating an awe inspiring beauty,
It is worth mentioning that the Park has made commendable efforts in curtailing the human-wildlife conflict that arises out of the wildlife proximity to human settlement by wiring off the parks’ borders.
Trailing over the plains of Laikipia, Lewa wildlife conservancy is prolific with wildlife and its magnificent landforms will leave you awed with their beauty, the conservancy is renowned for hosting the largest population of Grevy’s Zebra worldwide with approximately 350 individuals.
The Lewa Conservancy is also a habitat to the rare and endangered black rhinos, sitatunga, the big five (lions, leopards, rhinos, cape buffaloes and elephants). The conservancy is a home to over 12% of Kenyan’s eastern black population, Lewa Conservancy showcases a range of wild habitats from highland forests, wide open grasslands, melt-water mountain springs and acacia woodland.
The Lewa Conservancy is also a home to the Northern Rangelands Trust, an innovative partnership with a number of communities to the north who offered their land for the preservation of wildlife, the conservancy has its own education program that helps develop schools and students.
History of Lewa Conservancy
Lewa Conservancy was formerly a cattle ranch owned by David and Delia Craig who together with Ana Mertz and Peter Jenkins initially set aside 5,000 acres to protect and breed rhinos, the population of rhinos had precipitously dropped from 20,000 to less than 300 in the 1970s.
With a decade of successful operation, the project drove demand for more space and in 1995 the Craigs decided to dedicate their entire ranch to the conservation of wildlife. Lewa Conservancy has served as a catalyst for conservation across the region, this stimulated the creation of numerous conservancies, both private and community-owned which increased the amount of land under the conservation management in northern Kenya to cover about 2 million acres since the mid-1990s.
In 1983, the conservancy was registered as a rhino conservancy in 1983 and since then it has become famous for its successful rhino and Grevy’s zebra breeding which are two endangered species. The conservancy is a home to 10% of Kenya’s rhino and 20% of the world’s population of Grevy Zebras.
Attractions in Lewa Conservancy
Lewa Conservancy hosts a range of dazzling attractions ranging from the stunning landscapes, eye-catching habitats including birdlife and wildlife. Lewa is a home to over 70 recorded mammal species and over 440 bird species roaming in the vast grasslands at the foot of Mount Kenya.
Lewa Conservancy is famously known for hosting the world’s largest population of Grevy’s zebras with about 300 individuals, 10% of the rhino population in Kenya and all the members of the big Five family. Animals in the Lewa conservancy include lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, giraffe, wild dog, Grey’s zebra and cheetah among others.
Lewa is also home to ‘Northern Specialty Species’ which includes Somali ostrich, gerenuk, Beisa Oryx, Grevy’s zebra, and reticulated giraffe.
Lewa Conservancy is a home to over 400 bird species roaming in the savannah plains of the park, these birds include Amethyst sunbird, Blue-cheeked bee-eater, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Golden-breasted starling, Golden-breasted bunting, Golden-winged sunbird, Harlequin quail, Hartlaub’s turaco, Hartlaub’s bustard, Hildebrandt’s francolin, Hildebrandt’s starling, Hunter’s sunbird, Mariqua sunbird, Red-bellied parrot, Scarlet-chested sunbird, Shelley’s francolin, Variable sunbird, Vulturine guineafowl, White-bellied bustard, White-bellied go-away bird and Yellow-necked spurfowl among others
Activities in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Lewa Conservancy is an amazing Kenya wildlife safari destination to do game viewing, game drives are carried out in a 4X4 wheel vehicle with open windows and pop up roofs. During the game drives you drive on trails running through the savanna grasslands of the conservancy and you will be able to spot several species of animals such as lions, gazelles, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, antelopes among others.
Another best activity best for game viewing in Lewa Conservancy is the exciting horse riding offered in the evening.
The Lewa Conservancy is a host to prolific bird life with about 400 bird species roaming in the grassy and forested sanctuary, the conservancy is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also one of the best bird viewing destinations in East Africa.
Lewa Conservancy is a paradise for keen birders and during birding experience you will be able to see bird species such as Amethyst sunbird, Blue-cheeked bee-eater, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Golden-breasted starling, Golden-breasted bunting, Golden-winged sunbird, Harlequin quail, Hartlaub’s turaco, Hartlaub’s bustard, Hildebrandt’s francolin, Hildebrandt’s starling among others.
You need to come with binoculars.
Lewa Conservancy is a stunning area and a paradise of photographers, from the open sided vehicle you are able to take magnificent photos of the conservancy’s landscape and wildlife action.
Other Kenya safari activities to do in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy include visiting the local Samburu and Maasai people where you will learn about their culture and traditions, camel and horse riding, fishing trips to Lake Rutundu on Mount Kenya and nature safari walks.
Accommodation in Lewa wildlife Conservancy
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has a range of accommodation (safari lodges, hotels and camping site) where tourists get to stay during their Kenya safari in the park, these accommodations include
- Borana Lodge
- Elewana Kifaru House
- Elewana Lewa Safari camp
- Lewa Wilderness
- Laragai house
- Lewa House
- Sirikoi Lodge
- Sarai House
- Lengishu among others.
Best time to visit Lewa Conservancy
Lewa Conservancy experiences dry and wet seasons, wet season in the conservancy is experienced from October to May experiencing downpours. In the wet season Lewa temporary closes its gate in both November and April due to inaccessible roads.
Dry season in Lewa Conservancy is experienced from June to September, in this season the sunny skies are out and animals are easy to spot due to sparse vegetation.
How to get Lewa Conservancy
Lewa Conservancy is located in North Eastern Kenya and it can be accessed by road or air means of transport, by road it takes about 5 hours from Nairobi the capital of Kenya. By air is the easiest way to get to Lewa wildlife Conservancy, daily scheduled flights are available from Wilson Airport to Lewa Airport.