Lewa wildlife Conservancy is a prime sanctuary on Laikipia Plateau. It is known for its outstanding conservation record and development work in the local community. It is one of the best places in Kenya to see the Big Five. Sightings are common of both black rhino and white rhino, and it’s also a stronghold for the endangered Grevy’s zebra.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy offers excellent wildlife-viewing opportunities. All of the Big Five are present and the sightings of both black and white rhino are unsurpassed. Elephants, cheetah, and lion are easily seen. Lucky visitors might come across a pack of wild dogs as they move in and out of the area. Northern Kenya specials such as reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, and beisa oryx are also present.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is home to all of the Big Five. It has good populations of black rhino and white rhino and sightings are very common. Elephants and buffalo are plentiful and there is a good variety of predators including cheetah, lion, leopard, and wild dog. Antelopes include eland, impala, defassa waterbuck, and Grant’s gazelle.
Lewa is home to the northern specials, which are found only north of the equator and have the ability to live in arid conditions. All five species occur here: Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx, gerenuk, and the Somali ostrich. The forest is home to the black-and-white colobus monkey and a few hippos spend their days in Lewa swamp.
Lewa’s lodges are closed in April and November due to rain. The commonly found black cotton soil in the region becomes very difficult to negotiate after heavy rain. Wildlife viewing is at its best from July to September and January to March.
The snow-capped peak of Mount Kenya can be seen clearly in the distance at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The conservancy itself is dominated by rolling, whaleback semi-arid plains dotted with acacia trees. A large swamp area is fringed by yellow fever trees, and several hills offer lookout points over the surrounding plains. The Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve is also part of the Conservancy.
The uniform temperatures at Lewa are due to its proximity to the equator. This climatic consistency extends to the Dry season (June to September), when daytime sunshine and evening chill is the norm. The Wet season (October to May) is less predictable. It begins with what’s known as the short rains followed by a drier period. On the heels of this come the long rains which are at their drenching best in April.
The downpours that mark either end of the Wet season October to May see Lewa temporarily close its gates (in both November and April) due to inaccessible roads. Needless to say, it’s better to come here in the Dry season (June to September), when sunny skies lift the spirits and animals are more visible because of the sparse vegetation.
There are many north Kenya specials in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, including the Somali ostrich, vulturine guinea fowl, and the beautiful Golden-breasted Starling. In all, more than 350 bird species have been recorded, making it a great birding destination. It is probably worth booking a private vehicle if you’re here mainly for bird watching – most of the game drives in Lewa focus on spotting large animals.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy offers good bird watching throughout the year, but Lewa’s lodges are closed in April and November due to heavy rain. The best time is from December to March when the migrants from Europe and North Africa are present and the park is open. This partly coincides with the Wet season when many species can be seen in breeding plumage as they are nesting. The best time for general wildlife viewing is from July to September and January to March.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy offers good wildlife viewing throughout the year, but heavy rain can interfere with your safari. The reserve’s lodges are closed in April and November because the condition of the roads is a problem in those Wet season months.
The climate within the park is mild – mid to late twenties during the day, much cooler at night – and its location, close to the equator, means only small variations in temperatures year-round. Don’t forget to pack warm clothing for wildlife watching in the morning.
Dry season –June to September
During the Dry season, sunny days are usually experienced, although it can also rain. Temperatures during the day are about 25°C/77°F. However, it is considerably colder at nighttime and in the early mornings (temperatures around 10°C/50°F).
June & July – Pleasantly sunny days occasionally interrupted by rain. Afternoon temperatures average at 25°C/77°F. If heading out early in the morning on a game drive don’t forget to take warm clothing.
August & September – Both the rainfall and the heat pick up slightly in August. The temperatures in the afternoon can reach up to 26°C/79°F.
Wet season –October to May
There are plenty of cloudy days but it doesn’t often rain all day. In fact, there is a drier period from December to February that splits the so-called ‘short rains’ from the ‘long rains’.
October & November – Short rains: Usually beginning sometime in October, the temperatures in the afternoon are around 27°C/81°F.
December, January & February – Although the exact timing is almost impossible to predict, there is a drier period during these months, which separates the short and long rains.
March, April & May – ‘Long rains It rains a lot, but it doesn’t always rain all-day – April is the wettest month. Average temperatures in the early mornings are around 11°C/52°F. Be aware that the tracks might become slippery and difficult to drive.
It takes about five hours to drive from Nairobi to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The easiest way to get to Lewa is to take one of the daily scheduled flights from Nairobi. It is also possible to charter a flight from any other park or Nairobi. Finding your way to Nairobi itself isn’t difficult due to it being one of Africa’s largest transport hubs. International flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi.
In early 2017, there were armed incursions on private conservation areas in Laikipia by disgruntled herders. In 2018 and 2019, the situation has settled down, but independent travelers should seek the latest advice before heading into Baringo County or Laikipia.
Visitors to Kenya and, to a lesser extent, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, need several vaccinations before leaving home. Malaria is the biggest health concern for visitors and antimalarials are recommended. The use of mosquito repellent (those containing DEET are most effective) is highly recommended, as well as covering up in the evening, to minimize the risk of getting bitten.
It’s very important to respect safety precautions concerning wildlife when in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, or any protected area with animals. Keep in mind the potential danger and unpredictability of wildlife encounters, although incidents are very rare. Put your trust in the guides who are well trained and listen to their advice.