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Laikipia Plateau, Kenya

Panthers and Puppies

£6,550 pp sharing

At a Glance

Dates: August 3rd - August 11th, 2024

Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.

Prices: £6,550 pp sharing (with no single supplement)​, excluding international flights.

In a sentence: Now the best destination for wild dog viewing in East Africa can be coupled with the chance to spy the elusive melanistic leopard, or black panther - not to be missed!.

Overview

Kenya is probably the single biggest destination country for safaris in Africa, and with good reason. The natural riches of this beautiful country run deep, ranging from the incredible spectacle of the migration in the Masai Mara to the arid savannas of Ishaqbini towards the Somali border. Most visitors head south from Nairobi, fixated on the Mara and its surrounding conservancies, but those 'in the know' instead look north. Here, crowds are rare and the wildlife is hugely rewarding.

This tour takes in one of the most spectacular areas of Kenya. The Laikipia Plateau not only boasts natural beauty, but can also proudly claim to have the second highest density of large predators in Kenya, after the much busier Masai Mara. Not only is your 'typical' big game here in abundance, with lion, elephant, giraffe and more all seen regularly, night drives reveal rarer species, including striped hyena and aardvark. The two main draws here, though, are clear. First is the booming population of wild dogs, a species that has long suffered in East Africa, but that has found a stronghold on the plateau - sightings here are almost guaranteed and, with luck, puppies can be seen playing with their packmates. The second, and newer, reason to visit Laikipia is the presence of a habituated melanistic leopard. This incredibly beautiful animal has been known to local guides since she was a cub, and she therefore makes regularly appearances for visitors. There is nowhere else on the continent, perhaps, that two such iconic animals can be seen so reliably.

This tour also benefits from superb accommodation. Laikipia Wilderness Camp is wonderfully-located high on the plateau, offering spacious and comfortable safari tents with private outdoor en-suites, and plenty of mod-cons.

Itinerary

Day One

Nairobi

On arrival into Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta Airport, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and assisted with your transfer to your local hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure to relax after a long flight. This evening, dinner will be served in the hotel, where there will also be a pre-tour briefing.

Day Two

Nanyuki & Laikipia Wilderness

This morning you will transfer to Nairobi Wilson Airport for your Safarilink flight to the central Kenyan town of Nanyuki. At Nanyuki's small airport, your group will be met by a representative from Laikipia Wilderness Camp, who will transfer you the approximately ninety minutes by road to your accommodation on the Laikipia Plateau. 

En route to the camp, you will likely spy your first wildlife of the trip. Generic game abounds here, with elephant, zebra, giraffe, buffalo and eland particularly well represented. On arrival at camp, you will be warmly welcomed and shown to your spacious and very comfortable safari tents. After a chance to settle in, and depending on the time of your arrival, there may be time for your first afternoon game drive in the private vehicle dedicated solely to the use of our group. 

Your afternoon drive will likely focus on one of the key species found here in Laikipia - the African wild dog. Here at Pictus Safaris, we specialise in tracking down this elusive and charismatic carnivore, but in truth sightings are very likely here. The packs are well-known to the local guides, and our afternoon will hopefully be spent enjoying the company of these dogs, some of the most endangered large mammals in Africa. With luck, we may get to witness some exciting behaviour, including an evening hunt, or we may spy puppies emerging from their hiding places to play. As dusk falls, don't forget to keep a keen eye out for some of Laikipia's crepuscular residents, including the striking striped hyena.

We will return to camp just before nightfall, enjoying one of Laikipia Wilderness Camp's excellent dinners, before returning to the bush tonight. Just as we do during the day, we have a private open vehicle each night here, and we will use this to full effect. Our key target each night will be the famous melanistic leopard that calls Laikipia home. Habituated to the presence of tourist vehicles, she makes regular appearances for visitors, often hunting dik-diks right in front of them. Whilst we can make no guarantees, recent sightings of this incredible animal have been quite remarkable. There is also plenty more to see each night, with lions, 'normal' leopards and even aardvark recorded often.

Days Three to Eight

Laikipia Wilderness

The next six full days are dedicated to exploring Laikipia as fully as possible in our private vehicle. Mornings and afternoons will be spent seeking out wild dogs, melanistic leopard, lion, elephant, reticulated giraffe and even cheetah, and our focus will be wholly determined by the interests of the group. Each night, our focus will shift to the very rarest residents of this area, not only seeking out the 'black panther', but also striped hyena, cheetah and aardvark. When not on drive, there will be plenty of time for resting and relaxing in the laid-back luxury of camp, where the hospitality is truly world-class.

Day Nine

Nanyuki/Nairobi

If time allows, we will spend one final morning in Laikipia seeking out any species that may have eluded us thus far. Sadly, though, we will have to eventually bid goodbye to this superb area, retracing our steps to Nanyuki, before flying on to Nairobi, where this tour ends. Should you require overnight accommodation in Nairobi, or a transfer to Jomo Kenyatta Airport, we are happy to arrange this for you.

Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.

Dates and Prices

This tour will run in August 2024, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. The tour will run from August 3rd to August 11th.

The cost of this trip is £6,550 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. All drinks, apart from premium brands, are included. There is no single supplement for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,965 must be paid.

Flights and Visas

Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Nairobi at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Nairobi after 18.00 on your return to avoid disruption to your plans.

British nationals do require a visa to enter Kenya. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Kenya will be provided to you upon booking, but generally visas can be acquired upon arrival in Nairobi for a fee of $50 in cash. 

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in Laikipia in August is warm and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 24 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 13 degrees Celsius, and it will feel cooler than this on night drives. It will usually rain on approximately two days during this tour.

A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.

Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.

Safety and Security

There are no security issues currently impacting areas visited by this tour.

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