Kenya Walking Safari: Karisia Hills & Laikipia Plateau

A 11 day trip to Kenya 
4.25 out of 5 stars
4 reviews

Combining style with adventure, this unique walking safari reveals a version of Africa that defies the imagination. Traveling with Samburu warrior guides, spend seven days hiking along ancient wildlife trails through the spectacular Karisia Hills and the Laikipia Plateau. Discover a remote Kenyan wilderness that teems with Africa's great mammals, and enjoy luxury eco campsites that offer maximum comfort in the bush. You'll discover Africa like it has been for millennia during this walking safari with Samburu warrior guides through the spectacular Laikipia plateau; traversing the ancient forests of the Karisia Hills and experiencing the wildlife and scenery of the Ewaso Nyiro river valley.

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Elephants collect at a watering hole for a drink at sunset.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Nairobi, Central Kenya, Northern Kenya, Great Rift Valley, Laikipia Plateau, Karisia Hills, Suiyan River, Seya Lugga, Leoghi Plateau, Ewaso Nyiro, Tumaren Nature Reserve

Departure Dates 

Flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Arrive in Kenya

Land in Nairobi where you will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the quiet suburbs of Kenya's capital. Relax and recover from the journey, either in the cooling pool or the sumptuous rooms. Nairobi is East Africa's biggest city and it will only take a few minutes on the streets to get a sense of urban Africa. Dusty roadside stalls sell mounds of avocados, women strap babies to their backs with colorful pieces of cotton, and street corners are covered in donated clothes that have come straight off the ship from the US. Enjoy your first African meal at the excellent hotel restaurant, and if you want to explore Nairobi your guide will give you tips on places to go.

Day 2: Journey to Northern Kenya

After leaving Nairobi, it doesn't take long before you're in spectacular Kenyan scenery. You'll drive through the undulating green hills of the Great Rift Valley, passing numerous coffee plantations and breathtaking viewpoints. Every corner brings new rewards as you traverse the Laikipia plateau en route to the foot of the Karisia Hills. This is one of Africa's wildest and most untouched regions, one that's full of mystique and beauty. Blankets of forest await, but tonight your first camp will be at a clearing at the edge of the forest. Meet the Samburu warrior guides who will accompany you. Then, sit around a roaring African fire, and discover just how the campsites can offer luxury in the bush.

Day 3: Your Walking Safari Begins in the Karisia Hills

The wild Karisia Hills are one of Africa's true animal havens. There are no roads through the forest and no herds of safari trucks to disrupt wildlife. Life continues uninterrupted as it has for many millennia, and this is nature that hasn't been exploited by man. Home to buffalo, elephant, lion, and leopard, this region has its full cast of Africa's most awe-inspiring animals. Not only will you be seeing these animals in their natural habitat, you'll be witnessing them from ground level. And from this vantage point they look even more impressive. Spend today hiking through the ancient podocarpus forest, resting for a picnic lunch on a rocky outcrop with stunning views over the forested hills. You'll spend the night camping at the edge of these vividly green hills. Remember to keep looking up. These trees are home to a wide variety of bird species that will offer the safari's unique soundtrack, including silvery-cheeked hornbill, crowned eagle, and Hartlaub's turaco.

With creatures like elephants and leopards roaming free, some people incorrectly assume that a walking safari might be unsafe. Your Samburu warrior guides call this place home, and they've spent their whole life learning how to spot and track animals. Some clues are obvious. Like tracks of forest decimated by elephants, trails of blood from a recent kill, or footprints. However, to the untrained eye many of the clues blend into the wilderness. But the Samburu pick up on everything. A small overturned stone suggests a hyena passed by recently. The firmness of grassy dung indicates when impala were on the trail. By using these clues your experienced Samburu guides not only ensure that you're safe, they maximize all the opportunities to see wild animals.

Day 4: Descending Into the Forested Valley of the Suiyan River

Today you'll descend a dramatic escarpment into the valley of the Suiyan River. The trees are different here, and you'll be walking through stands of great acacia tortillis. Elephants and buffalos often enjoy lounging on the clearing, while hyena are also regular visitors to this area. The Samburu understand animal behavior and know how to react in different situations. They'll ensure that you get as close as possible without interrupting or irritating the animals. Your guides also know the area better than any GPS system ever could. In the parched riverbed they'll dig for crystal clear mountain water that's cleaner and fresher than anything you might find in a bottle. The rocks above tonight's camp are popular with Klipspringer, a small and incredible agile African antelope. Nimbly jumping across rocks, they'll provide the backdrop to another night around a blazing fire.

Day 5: Walking Along Ancient Rivers

Continuing the descent, you'll walk down the dry Suiyan riverbed to its confluence with the Seya Lugga. During parts of the year the water slows to a trickle. But at others it flows like a torrent, creating stunning waterfalls and freshwater pools. If it's flowing you can swim beneath the waterfalls and cool off in the pristine pools. Like every night, the camp's location is carefully selected to offer beauty, serenity, and harmony with nature. The tents are large and spacious, thick mattresses ensure you have a great night's sleep, while the sounds of the forest perforate through the camp at night. The camps are erected by your guides and provide all the possible comfort you could imagine in the bush. This is luxury ecotourism and features hot showers and hand basins. As well as setting up the camp, your guides will stand guard at night in case any of nature's predators pass by. 

Day 6: Incredible Views From the Leroghi Plateau

Ascend the Chanook escarpment to viewpoints overlooking the hills. After two days in the forest, today is about spectacular views. Traversing the edge of the Leroghi plateau, you'll be hypnotized as the wilds of Northern Kenya extend into oblivion. These views are of a wilderness that comes straight from a wildlife documentary. It's an area that's as far from westernization as it's ever possible to get. High rocky outcrops provide a comfortable place to sit as the burning African sun slowly descends into the horizon. This area is popular with African wild dog, an endangered species that is famed for its hunting abilities. Witnessing one in the wild is a treat that few people get to witness, and your guides will help track any that have been in the area.

Your dedicated chefs will cook up another delicious three-course meal on roaring coals. Forget fancy restaurant kitchens, this is conjuring culinary delights using the most traditional methods. Chilled wines and beers are served with meals every evening and the campfire will blaze all night. Around the flames, guides and guests share their stories and experiences, each learning and entertaining one another in a place that is far from wifi and wikipedia. Forget social media, this is real interaction between vastly different cultures that harmoniously come together. Then, after bedtime, the smoke and flames keeps away hyena and wandering predators.

Day 7: Walking Over the Laikipia Plateau

Like every day on this inimitable safari, you'll be walking at your own pace. Taking the ancient wildlife trails is a real adventure, but the walking is easy. Each day you'll walk around 4-5 hours, with plenty of breaks to appreciate the rugged nature you're traversing. This trek is well manageable and similar to a gentle hike in the hills at home. Today you'll walk over the gently undulating Laikipia Plateau. Tonight's camp at Nageragero is at one of the most beautiful spots in the world, and is home to large numbers of Kudu. With the guides showing the way, you'll hopefully get close to these majestic antelope.

En route, you'll visit an authentic Samburu manyatta. The Samburu are semi-nomadic and might stay in their manyatta, or home, for a few months at a time. A manyatta showcases organic living at its most inspiring. Walls are made from green forest sticks, while roofs are a mixture of ash, cow dung, and termite hill. Then a blanket of thorns is used to protect the livestock from predators. You will be welcomed like family, as everyone walking through this wilderness is family to the Samburu. Their lifestyle has been passed down over many generations, and throughout the safari your guides will be passing on their knowledge to you. Particular plants are used for medicinal purposes, rituals are conducted at special times of the year, and a manyatta can be built from scratch in just one day.

Day 8: Spectacular Animal Spotting at the Ewaso Nyiro River

Winding through the valley, you will descend to the Ewaso Nyiro River. This life-giving source of water makes today our best day for animal spotting. Elephants playfully wander down to the river, steinbocks lurk in the woodland, while the distinctive necks of gerenuk help them feed off tall branches. It's always special to see these animals in their natural habitat. But on foot you are able to appreciate them at eye level which makes every elephant more impressive, brings every antelope closer, and allows you to fully appreciate the diversity and beauty of this animal kingdom.

It's also exhilarating. You're sharing the same ancient paths as these animals, not plowing through them in a noisy safari truck. Many animals run at the foreign sounds of an engine. But by approaching slowly on foot the animals aren't startled. While you're admiring them, they will be inspecting you, judging if you are a danger or not. Even the cute dikdiks, one of nature's smallest antelope, will rarely take a backward step in your presence. Other treats today include the regal horns of the lesser kudu, and the graceful skipping of numerous impala.

Day 9: Panoramic Views and a Night Safari Through Tumaren Reserve

With an early morning start you'll ascend the incredible rock pinnacle of Ngai Suisui. From this vantage point the whole of Northern Kenya extends into the distance. The vibrant panoramas will live long in the memory as you savor the last day of your walking safari. This spot is home to a nesting site for Verreaux Eagles, and you'll hopefully see their soaring rings in the clear blue sky. While the walking has come to an end your unique African safari certainly isn't over.

Continuing in vehicles you'll head to the Tumaren reserve and go on a thrilling night drive. Daytime and nighttime in Kenya brings a completely different cast of animals. Many elusive nocturnal creatures come out under the cover of darkness. Watch the bat eared fox scurry across the ground, and discover zorillas who poke their heads out from tiny holes. Darkness allows the safari truck to get extremely close to these animals, and witnessing anything moving in the gloomy light is a thrilling experience.

Day 10: Dramatic Wildlife Drives in the Tumaren

Giving the legs a well-earned rest you'll spend a day exploring the Tumaren reserve by safari truck. Wildlife comes out in the morning, and the unmistakable necks of reticulated giraffe are clearly visible in the trees. Bachelor herds of hartebeest roam through the reserve, building up strength before they can make a challenge to be an alpha male. Graceful zebras skip through the clearing, each absolutely unique. A zebra's stripes are like a person's fingerprints, distinct markers that ensure that no two individuals are the same.

Enjoy a picnic lunch by the river before an evening drive in the park. With the heat of the afternoon gone, this is a great time to spot animals by the waterholes and grazing on the grass. Ascending through the exquisite Tumaren reserve you'll celebrate the end of the safari with sundowners and breathtaking views from a high hilltop. This might be the last day of your safari but the memories and photos will live long in the memory.

Day 11: Return to Nairobi or Continue Your Safari

After saying your goodbyes you will be driven to Nanyuki for a domestic flight back to Nairobi. Gaze out of the window and get an alternative view of the central Kenyan highlands before connecting to your international flight in Nairobi. Alternatively, many guests choose to extend their safari in another of northern Kenya's great wildlife reserves. There are also options to organize a safari extension to other parts of Kenya like the Great Rift Valley Lakes, the Maasai Mara, or the untouched Indian Ocean coastline.  Take a minute to visit the travel reviews of Kenya luxury tours for reviews from real travelers.  Learn about their experiences and see how they customized their adventures!


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.