The Segera Retreat, situated in the heart of the vast Laikipia plateau, is so unlike any other safari lodge in the Kenyan bush that you can only truly appreciate its uniqueness by making it your home for some nights.
Once a thriving cattle grazing ranch, this 50,000 acre property was acquired some years ago by the philanthropist and conservationist Jochen Zeitz, who had fallen in love with Africa and wanted to make it his home. The original buildings of the farm were conserved and restored with much care and love for the traditions they represent. Other structures were added, including a number of villas in a style compatible with the traditional Kenyan farm house, thus creating an exclusive destination for discerning travelers seeking unique game adventures, relaxation and peace in an atmosphere of absolute luxury and unequaled service.
One aspect which adds significantly to the peace, wellness and self indulgence of a stay at Segera is its policy of offering the accommodation as well as all food, drinks and services including game drives, spa and other leisure activities as a comprehensive package at a fixed room rate depending on the room type and the season.
True to the owner’s conservationist ideals, the ranch and the retreat location has been integrated into the surrounding land, which in a spectacular manner is going through a “wildering” process converting the once overgrazed grass land to a natural environment. A genuine savanna which now is home to a thriving population of game including elephants thanks to the re-opening of their old time migratory routes.
It goes without saying that the absolute luxury is sustained by environmentally friendly technology including vast solar installations providing all energy needs – including the cooling of the newly constructed wine tower which will be one of the things that catches your eyes when you arrive.
How to get there
Laikipia is one of the most breathtaking areas of Kenya. Situated on the upper escarpment of the Great Rift Valley with a stunning view of the beautiful Mount Kenya the nature itself is worth the four hour road trip from the capital Nairobi.
The management will be more than happy to arrange your transport from Nairobi to the retreat. My friends and I drove to the town of Nanyuki and were picked up by a Segera safari vehicle for the two hour drive to our destination. Our driver and guide Paul was a beautiful ball of energy, an ever smiling chap who is passionate about wildlife.
In the spirit of the effortless luxury experience they wish to offer, the retreat can of course also bring you there from Nairobi by air to the Laikipia air strip for the final drive which in itself is part of the luxury safari experience. And from the time you step into the reception you are in the caring hands of the most attentive staff I have ever experienced.
The owner and creator Jochen Zeits is a true lover of art and beauty (he recently created a museum for contemporary African Art in Capetown , South Africa) and this is constantly borne out in the interiors of the Segera House and the guest villas. No matter where you turn you are impressed by beautiful objects of art and exquisite interior decoration. All in all a beautiful mix of the work of local artisans and unique antique European furniture and objects including my favorite pieces at the explorer lounge – a massive crystal chandelier and a grand piano. What makes the experience even more stunning and dramatic is the obvious contrast between the timeless indoor living spaces and the overall look of the buildings constructed with locally sourced materials in the middle of the surrounding African bush.
As a guest you are encouraged to move around freely and enjoy the atmosphere.
Food and drinks
Segera can rightly be proud of its team of top chefs who pamper you with delicacies from breakfast to after-dinner snacks for your night cap. Fruit, veggies and herbs are cultivated in their garden, and all this fresh produce ensures you of a superb culinary experience – very homely and hearty meals catering also for special dietary wishes.
The well stocked wine tower has a wide selection of perfectly produced and matured African wines, all carefully selected not only on the basis of their quality but also the ecological sustainability of their manufacture. And it is worth to recall here that regardless of your choice, the cost of the wines and other drinks you order is included in the comprehensive room rate. Just like you can choose to have your meals served at any of the range of tasteful restaurants or dining areas, there are locations available when it comes to have an outdoor picnic or enjoy a sundowner. We especially enjoyed our first night’s sundowner in the beauty of the top of the famed Nay Palad birds nest with a perfect view of the bush and the setting sun.
Esther our lovely chef always discussed our meals ahead of time to ensure she served us the freshest options available and she always managed to surprise us with her culinary expertise each time.
Most guests come here with game viewing on the top of their priority list. After all, Kenya’s abundant wild life is the country’s main tourist attraction. In Segera, you will find elephants, buffalos, lions, leopards just to name a few as well as the endangered Grevy’s zebra, Patas monkey and one of Kenyas few growing populations of the rare African wild dog.
I felt lucky to spot my first male lion (since I started going on safaris 4 years ago) on a mid morning drive.
I do regret that I missed the five lion cubs spotted on my friends’ game drive the following morning because I decided to enjoy a leisurely morning and long breakfast. You can’t have it all…
What seriously impressed me was the efforts of the ranch to curb poaching and I watched with admiration how one of their poaching units demonstrated how they track down a poacher with sniffer blood hounds.
Segera gives high priority to give you a holistic experience and the Wellness Centre offers a range of treatments to nourish your mind, body and soul. Since my time was limited I didn’t try all their services but thoroughly enjoyed a body scrub followed by steam bath and massage- a perfect way to revitalize yourself after a game drive. A sunny day in the wild can also be spent pool side with a cool drink at Segera or a lush picnic set in the wild.
The Segera 4C philosophy
Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce. These are the 4Cs that shape Segera as a Founding Member and Flagship Destination of The Long Run and Zeitz Foundation. During our all too short stay we were came to an inspiring understanding of how these four elements can interact holistically to foster true sustainability for the nature and its wildlife, the local communities and their culture and the retreat as a financially viable entity.
The retreat believes in and practices a close interaction with the surrounding communities and offers a number of short excursions to introduce you to the life of the local tribes. It is exceptional that it has been possible to bring together the women of three previously hostile tribes for the creation of a school for their children and for setting up a commercial micro enterprise for traditional Maasai beadwork; a project we really enjoyed visiting. We loved the singing and dancing of the Satubo women and I appreciated a bit of training in creating the beaded ornaments and enjoyed being dressed up in their traditional outfits and ornaments.
In a Nutshell
Segera is truly a very special destination offering its guests a unique experience never to be forgotten. The luxury and overall serenity of the retreat of course comes at a price – but therefore also allowing a generous support of the local communities and very committed environmental protection effort . It is the perfect place to visit with your family or a few close friends to submerge yourselves in sublime peace and tranquility while nurturing your spirit while indulging in a luxury lifestyle in the wild combined with exceptional nature and wildlife activities.
Photography by Andrey Josephs