The big trip

Trip of the week: walking in the wilds of Kenya

You won’t forget a four-day ‘camel-supported’ trek through this spectacular landscape

Would you love to go on a “slow, mindful walk through a vanishing wilderness, unencumbered by the heavy load of modern civilisation”? On the fringes of Kenya’s Laikipia plateau, you can do exactly that, though to enjoy it in comfort will take planning: you’ll need a helicopter, men and camels to carry equipment and set up camp, and a wildlife expert or two to guide and keep you safe.

But happily, you don’t have to organise any of this yourself, says David Pilling in the FT, with Journeys by Design running four-day “camel-supported” treks through this spectacular landscape. Homo sapiens have resided here for 300,000 years, and you might see some stone-age cave paintings, but you won’t come across any signs of modernity.

The silhouette of Mount Kenya dominates the view, but most of the walking is on level ground through arid acacia scrubland punctuated by red granitic “upthrustings” called kopjes. When big game – elephant, eland, zebra, waterbuck – appears, it’s usually far off, but there’s much of interest to see up close if you know where to look, and your guides – local pastoralists – can read this landscape like a book.

The camp, set up in a different spot each night, is luxurious, with tents you can stand up in, spongy mattresses with sheets and blankets, hot showers, and a raised-box toilet seat over a freshly dug pit.

Closely examined, small animals – a hairy baboon spider the size of a satsuma, a rhinoceros beetle, the ant-devouring larvae of the dragonfly-like antlion – become fascinating “monsters”. There are medicinal plants to find, and signs (paw prints, scuff marks, dung and so on) telling of recent dramas – a leopard kill, a mongoose raid on a tortoise nest. And a ride in a helicopter with huge windows, swooping over elephant herds and seeking out eagles’ nests perched high on kopjes, makes for a thrilling finale. 

A four-day walk, including flights within Kenya, costs from $5,950pp (journeysbydesign.com).

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