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Lewa House

Lewa House is an owner-run bush homestead located in the heart of the fantastic Lewa Conservancy near Mount Kenya in Central Kenya.

Being owner-run by Calum and Sophie McFarlane, whose children are the fifth generation of the family to live on Lewa, Lewa House offers a very home from home feel with relaxed, yet very efficient service. The accommodation is very comfortable, without being overly luxurious, with the two bedroomed cottages being ideal for families. The property has a warm and slightly old-school safari atmosphere, with communal meals which are hosted by Calum and Sophie. It is not a ‘busy’ property, and the overall ambience of the property is tranquil and relaxing, even when families are in residence. Easy access to the wonderful game viewing of Lewa make this a favourite property of ours.

Rooms

Accommodation at Lewa House is for a maximum of 18 guests in three Family Cottages and four newer ‘Earth Pods’.

The one bedroomed Earth Pods are built from stone and located at either end of the camp. These are usually the preferred choice for couples or individual travellers, having a slightly more modern feel to them. They include very comfortable furnishings and plumbed en suite facilities including shower, flush loo and an outdoor bath.

There are also three two bedroomed Family Cottages with the bedrooms connecting via a porch/verandah. These cottages have a more traditional bush homestead feel and are built under thatch with stone walls, each room having plumbed en suite facilities (toilet and shower).

Central Areas

The main area includes a small reception, a spacious lounge with fire place and a dining room, all of which are under thatch. A few steps away is a swimming pool and outdoor dining area, overlooking a small waterhole which attracts the passing wildlife.

Facilities

Wi-Fi – Yes
Power for Charging – Yes
Swimming Pool – Yes

Habitat & Wildlife

Lewa House is located within the Lewa-Borana Conservancies, a 93,000-acre landscape including Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and neighbouring Borana Conservancy, which together create an important wildlife corridor between Mount Kenya and the northern wilderness.

Lewa House is on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy which comprises around 48,000 acres of land which is 95% conservancy-owned, and 14,000 acres of national forest. It lies on the transitional zone between the Mount Kenya highlands and the semi-arid savannah to the north at an altitude of between 4,500 and 6,000 feet above sea level. Although most of the conservancy is set aside for wildlife, some horticulture practices are still carried out, furniture making (from local acacia woods) and rug weaving businesses create further employment for the local people. There is a Conservation Centre which is worthwhile visiting.
The habitat is extremely diverse with open grassland interspersed with acacia forests, riverine woodland, rocky gorges and ravines, montane forest and the Lewa swampland. Mount Kenya provides a scenic backdrop to the south.

The history of the Lewa-Borana Conservancies starts at Lewa at the height of the rhino and elephant poaching in the mid-1980s when Anna Mertz asked the Craig family to set aside an area for use as a rhino sanctuary. In 2013 a founding population of 21 black rhinos was introduced to the neighbouring Borana Conservancy. Once they were established, the fence between Borana and Lewa was dropped, forming one landscape which today hosts a thriving population of over 240 rhino (both black and white), making this one of East Africa’s largest continuous rhino habitats. In 2013 Lewa also gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of only 40 wildlife areas worldwide on the IUCN Green List for well managed conservancies with good governance. While Lewa and Borana remain independent entities, and activities for guests will be on the conservancy where their lodge is located, conservation and community efforts are approached jointly and they are increasingly referred to as the ‘Lewa-Borana Landscape’.

In addition to healthy populations of both black and white rhino, the Lewa-Borana Conservancies are home to around 90% of the world’s population of the rare Grevy’s zebra whilst other animals to be seen include elephant, reticulated giraffe, eland, lion, leopard, cheetah, the Burchell’s zebra, hartebeest, greater kudu, Grant’s gazelle, impala, bushbuck, dik dik, oryx and within the swamp area, the sitatunga. You might also be lucky enough to see the rarer gerenuk. After dark lookout for nocturnally active species such as aardvark, caracal, bat-eared fox, honey badger, porcupine, galago, and white-tailed mongoose. The birdlife is superb with over 440 species recorded – from the ridges, it’s possible to photograph vultures and eagles soaring within a few feet.

Activities

The main activity from Lewa House is game drives (by day and night) across the abundant Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, conducted in open vehicles, which are generally very productive.

Walking safaris are possible and take place in areas where vehicles seldom, or cannot, venture. It is also possible to walk with camels or have a go at riding these slightly uncomfortable creatures!

Horse riding is available across the plains for another different perspective with one ride usually being included within a three night stay.

Various community and conservation focused trips are also offered at Lewa house. These include visiting the Conservancy HQ to gain an insight into their conservation work and the challenges of poaching, the Lewa Anti-poaching bloodhounds where you are able to meet the rangers and see demonstrations of tracking, visit the indigenous Ngare Ndare Forest where you are able to swim in the river, visit waterfalls and the forest boardwalk. It is also possible to visit nearby community villages.

There is a prehistoric site on the ranch where Acheulian hand axes can be found scattered on the ground. If you are interested, a visit to see the working side of the ranch and conservancy can be arranged.

Various third party activities can also be enjoyed during a visit to Lewa House. These include helicopter excursions around northern Kenya (or to go fly-fishing on Mount Kenya).

Seasons

Lewa House is closed in November and April each year.

Lewa House accepts children of all ages and is a super family option if you are looking for an exclusive lodge environment where game viewing is superb. The family cottages are ideal, with two en suite bedrooms linked by an open porch/ verandah. The only point to note is that the verandah is open-fronted and so very young children may need to share a room with an adult. Lewa House is not the kind of property to offer ‘kids club’ attractions, but there is a swimming pool and the excellent guides and staff will interact with children both on activities and whilst in camp.

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has been enormously successful in the conservation of rhino, together with other species. Guests at Lewa House are able to visit the Conservancy HQ to gain an insight into their conservation work and the challenges of poaching. They may also visit the Lewa anti-poaching bloodhounds unit where they are able to meet the rangers and see demonstrations of tracking.

The Ngare Ndare Forest Trust was established to protect the indigenous forest and to provide support to the local community. The funds from the forest entry fee assists in the protection of the forest and finances a number of community projects.

In addition to conservation efforts, a significant amount of the Conservancy’s work involves working with the communities around Lewa to ensure they are benefitting from the wildlife conservation. They support a number of initiatives ranging from micro-credit schemes to children’s education in their communities which their guests have the option to visit. Lewa House also offers cultural trips to a community of hunter gatherers and nomadic pastoralists with visits to the village helping to ensure these traditional skills are kept alive.

At the House, where possible, the kitchen supplies are bought from the communities around Lewa and a lot of the fruit and grains are purchased from Meru weekly market. Food waste is recycled through worms, pigs and chickens whilst glass bottles are taken to a central Lewa recycling project.

ALTERNATIVE CAMPS IN The Great Rift Valley