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Walking Wild

Walking Wild is a specialist walking trail operated across the Lewa Conservancy and down into the Il Ngwesi Community lands

Walking Wild is a superb safari option for anyone who is keen to explore the wilderness on foot with a superb guide. The operation is owned by a charismatic guide Lipan Kitonga, known as Kitonga, who is a superb tracker and knows his patch of Africa like the back of his hand – he grew up in a village on nearby Il Ngwesi. Kitonga is tall and can ‘stride out’, and the terrain is hilly in sections, so the walk is most suitable to reasonably fit walkers. However, as each safari is exclusive, there is no requirement to ‘keep up with the group’ and Kitonga will set a pace that works – when tracking game and talking about the bush, the pace is naturally slow. The initial couple of days of walking are usually undertaken on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy where game concentrations are high and Kitonga will have the chance to track rhino. Longer walks (3 nights and upwards) will then explore the Il Ngwesi Community lands to the north, where the experience changes to be more cultural and wilderness orientated. The camping set up is comfortable but very mobile, and food is wholesome without being sophisticated. Walking Wild is a wonderful option if you are keen and happy to set out on an adventure.


Walking Wild is booked on an exclusive basis with a minimum of two guests for a two night stay (and maximum of eight guests). Each night is spent in comfortable fly-camps, operated by a full safari crew. Accommodation is in walk-in mosquito net dome tents, furnished with comfortable bedrolls consisting of a mattresses and linen. There are two shared canvas bucket showers and short-drop toilets in the camp, and a central tarpaulin tent is erected for protection against the elements if need be, with most dining taking place alfresco.


Wi-Fi – No
Power for Charging – No
Swimming Pool – No (river swimming in some areas)

Habitat & Wildlife

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy comprises part of the Lewa-Borana Conservancies which, together with neighbouring Borana Conservancy, form a 93,000-acre landscape which is an important wildlife corridor between Mount Kenya and the northern wilderness.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy comprises around 48,000 acres of private land (predominantly owned by the Craig family who have been in the area since 1924), 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 6,000ft above sea level. Although most of the conservancy is set aside for wildlife, some horticulture, stud cattle and dairy farming practises are still carried out, and 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.

The neighbouring Il Ngwesi Community Lands naturally have less game on them as there are several villages and the local Maasai people tend their goats and cattle, but this allows a different experience to unfold.


Walking is essentially unlimited, although each day will tend to involve a morning walk to reach the new camp (on average about 7 miles), which could take between 3 and 7 hours, depending on how much you see along the way, and then the afternoon is free to undertake a more relaxed walk in the local area around camp. The focus of each safari is learning about the ecosystems, wildlife, and local Maasai culture. Kitonga will enlighten you on the art of tracking and other bush skills. All equipment is moved by a train of camels.

Shorter trips (2 nights) are spent on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy itself, where the highest concentrations of game are found. Longer trips of 3 to 5 nights will also venture off the conservancy into the Il Ngwesi community lands, where game-viewing is a little less intense, but cultural experiences form a greater focus. Regardless of the number of days on trail, different habitats will be encountered, and the whole experience will be very exclusive and escapist. The scenery and views are also spectacular!


Walking Wild operates from December to March, then again from June through to October.

Families with older children keen on a walking and camping adventure will love Walking Wild. Kitonga is a star, and active and adventurous teenage children will learn a huge amount about Africa and the bush. It is just not for kids who are not active, hardy or interested enough!

The Lewa-Borana Conservancies conservation success story started on the Craig family land and is today one of the most successful rhino protection projects in Africa. In addition to conservation efforts, a significant amount of the Conservancy’s work involves working with the communities around Lewa-Borana Landscape to ensure they are benefitting from the wildlife conservation.

Walking Wild, together with other lodges on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, supports the Lewa schools health care projects and conservation efforts together. Between Lewa and Borana they assist in community development through conservation education programmes, financial support for many schools, funding teaching salaries and student bursaries as well as the building classrooms and accommodation, digging boreholes and fitting water tanks. They provide access to healthcare, youth empowerment, assist women in small businesses, provide pipelines for clean water projects and support pastoral livelihoods amongst many other initiatives.