Ol Malo Lodge in Laikipia County is nestled into a mountain which overlooks the county’s dry bushland, and on a clear day, you can see elephants and giraffes grazing near a lake below. The lodge is also home to orphaned hartebeests which stroll into the resort when they fancy and drink from the swimming pool when they fancy. At the dinner table, our hosts nudge the creatures away indifferently while we all struggle to get our heads around the fact that huge antelopes are literally beelining for our lasagne.
Ol Malo hosts day and night game drives (guided drives to see wildlife), guided walks, horse riding, camel treks and Samburu cultural visits. A highlight is visiting the Samburu tribe after a walk through the lodge’s surrounding bushland. The younger men in the tribe are singing in a circle as we approach and seem completely unfazed that half a dozen strangers are gaping in their direction. The Samburu tribe are polygamous, with men choosing more than one wife from villages nearby. Girls marry from 15, men from 24. Before being able to marry, young men devote their late adolescence and early adulthood to Warriorship – hunting and fending off unwanted wildlife such as wild elephants. I ask our guide why some men, like him, only choose to have one wife when the norm is to have more, he grins and jokes that women are “expensive and not everyone has nine cattle”.
Our next stop is Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club. The luxury resort hosts visits to its animal orphanage as well as activities such as horse riding to a breakfast on the slopes of Mount Kenya National Park. The park, richer in nutrition than dry Laikipia, has significantly chunkier animals. During our visit to the park we are granted access to visit the three last remaining Northern White Rhinos on the planet. Tragically, after years of poaching, only one male and two females remain, despite efforts to reproduce them.
Pumbaas In Swahili, the word ‘pumbaa’ for warthog means “to be foolish, silly, weak-minded, careless, negligent”, and living up to their name, the small beasts are so forgetful they forget they’re being chased by a lion and stop to eat grass mid-chase… an easy catch. For the final stretch of our trip, we stay in Swahili Beach hotel, based in Diani Beach. Our hotel rooms stretch down either side of a long, layered swimming pool that slopes down to the beach.
In the morning we go on a snorkelling safari by boarding a wooden boat which takes us to a nearby island. Here we enjoy lush white sand, transparent water and seeing dolphins, fish and octopuses. Lunch is served at a beach-view restaurant, where we have fresh seafood and Indian delicacies. Skydiving
The next day is skydiving, with Skydive Diani. The base is a beach hut overlooking Diani beach – our landing spot. We are harnessed on to skydivers who relentlessly tease us before the jump. As I sit in the car en route to our small plane, one of the tandem partners asks me who I’m jumping with. When I gesture towards my tandem partner, he asks me how much less I paid than my friends. After getting geared up, we board a small airplane for a 15-minute scenic flight, then jump from a whopping 12,000ft. Skydive Diani is one of the few places in the world that has a beach landing – and the view manages to slightly distract from the terrifying 60 seconds of hurtling towards the ground without a parachute or stomach. Our final stop is Fairmont The Norfolk, Nairobi, which offers us a bed-and-breakfast stay right in the heart of Kenya’s bustling capital city. In the evening, we go to Carnivore, a restaurant notorious for its exotic range of meat and its smoky aura.