Away Game: Kenya’s Borana reserve is your wildest dream

·2-min read
 (Joanna Taylor)
(Joanna Taylor)

If you digest travel writing on the regular, you’ve likely heard the phrase (eye rolls at the ready) ‘trip of a lifetime’ more than enough. But you’re going to have to forgive me, please, because I can’t think of a better way to describe my formative experience of Africa and, more significantly, Kenya.

The adventure began with a flight on a tiny plane from Nairobi airport to the Borana Conservancy’s barely-there landing strip. The pilot warned us rather too casually that it ‘may have a few animals loitering on it’ because the area was a wildlife preserve and Kenya’s newest rhino sanctuary. Made up of 32,000 acres on the rolling Laikipia Plateau near Mount Kenya, the Conservancy is where Lengishu lodge is nestled, a serene, 12-person residence of four vast, homely cottages and several outbuildings built and thatched by local craftsmen to reflect the warm, eclectic Kenyan spirit and style.

Upon touchdown, lodge owners and part-time residents Joe and Minnie MacHale greeted us with iced tea before we were whisked off to Lengishu in custom-built safari Land Rovers. Over the next three days we saw mesmerising sunrises in hues of orange, pink, red and purple, enjoyed sundowners while wrapped in tartan shuka blankets on the hilltop and indulged in snooze-inducing massages. While not Kenyan, the food — think red snapper tacos and poached pears with raspberry ice cream — that we tucked into at a candlelit setting by the pool, within the main house and also among the wildlife in the unspoilt bush, was always a delight.

Out in the wilds | Joanna Taylor (Out in the wilds | Joanna Taylor)
Out in the wilds | Joanna Taylor (Out in the wilds | Joanna Taylor)

Those exploits alone would have made for a dazzling time but they were simply the icing on the cake. The most memorable moments came from the 6am game drives and rhino tracking on foot, of course. There, perched in the only vehicle for miles, we witnessed pairs of lions prowling metres from the car, giraffes peacefully munching breakfast, rhinos stomping from a distance and many, many elephants on the move.

It didn’t end there. After a short, slightly bumpier flight back to Nairobi, we entered Eden, the nine-bedroom ex-residence of German-born, Kenyan-raised fashion designer Anna Trzebinski bursting with art in the leafy Langata area. Here, when not soaking in the abstract artworks, chasing the resident chickens or enjoying open fires tended to by Trzebinski’s Samburu friends, we’d mingle, then dance the night away, with the designer’s other friends, some of Nairobi’s most talented artists including Nedia Were, Peter Elungat and Syowia Kyambi. Hakuna matata? Absolutely.

Three nights at Lengishu for six people, including internal flights, £30,350 (lengishu.com). Two nights all inclusive at Eden Nairobi, from £920pp (eden-nairobi.com). Book at theluxurysafaricompany.com; 01666 880 111