To travel into the Lewa Conservancy is to journey into the heart of nature in all its raw beauty.
Lewa house offers elegant accommodations, an unbelievable safari experience, and delicious food. But above all, by staying there, you will be contributing to the local conservation efforts to protect endangered species. Read on for my review of Lewa house.
1. Lewa is easy to access from Nairobi
Lewa Conservancy is located in the center of Kenya, in Isiolo. It is about a 5-hour drive from Nairobi.
The easiest way to reach Lewa is to fly directly from Wilson Airport in Nairobi, with SafariLink or Air Kenya, which offer daily scheduled flights to the Conservancy. There are also occasional flights from the Masai Mara. Lewa is also near Ol Malo Lodge, which can be accessed with a small private plane, so it's easy to combine a trip to Lewa and Ol Malo. For my review of Ol Malo, read here
Lewa Conservancy has its own airstrip for small planes, and the drive from the Lewa airstrip to Lewa House is about 20 minutes. It took us a bit longer, as our guide merged the trip with a short game drive. Within 30 minutes of landing, we had already seen a herd of elephants, Grevy zebras, reticulated giraffes, and three rhinoceros!
2. The accommodation at Lewa house is simply elegant
Lewa House is the best option for your stay in the Lewa Conservancy. It is the oldest accommodation in the Conservancy. It exudes charm and sophistication. The boutique lodge is surrounded by beautiful savannahs opposite Mount Kenya. The lodge has the most beautiful views. All in all, Lewa house provides a fantastic wildlife experience to its guests.
The main house at Lewa House
Lewa House is composed of the main house, which includes the restaurant, a relaxing lounge, and a pretty garden with a pool.
There is a massive fireplace in the main house that was a lovely spot to enjoy drinks before dinner. It is surprisingly chilly at night, so congregating by the fire was a special moment and an enjoyable place to meet the other guests staying at Lewa House.
Review of the bedrooms at Lewa house
The rooms are scattered around the property, in cute little cottages. The cottages are built using traditional Lewa architecture techniques, with rough stone walls and thatched roofs.
We stayed in one of the family cottages. It was perfect for two people traveling together but would also be ideal for family of four. Our Cottage had a double and twin room, each with an en-suite bathroom.
The beds were comfortable and had mosquito nets. The furniture was homely and made of natural materials like wood and stones. The attention to detail was incredible, and everything was beautifully made.
Free laundry was provided during our stay. It took less than 24 hours for our clothes to be returned.
In front of the two bedrooms, we had a large verandah where we could relax after the day's activities. It was a peaceful spot, with a great view.
Lewa House is surrounded by an electric fence to keep the animals at bay. They also recommend getting an escort from the main house to your room at night, as some animals sometimes manage to find a way into the compound. It happened when we were there: an elephant found its way in and was happily eating in Lewa House's organic garden!
Sustainability at Lewa House
Lewa House cares deeply about sustainability. That is apparent in the way the house is run. From their buildings using mostly local material, to the harvesting of rainwater, and solar panels for hot water and electricity, they have made sustainable design choices wherever possible.
Lewa House also composts food waste and reduces plastic use. You won't find plastic bottles here. We received reusable metal water bottles during our game drives.
Internet access at Lewa House
There is good internet access in the main lounge, but not in the bedrooms.
3. The food is fresh and locally produced
Lewa house is surrounded by a great vegetable and herb garden. Most of the food is local and is very fresh and tasty. The chefs prepared sophisticated meals combining European, Kenyan, and Asian cuisine. It was truly delicious.
The dining room has a distinctly British feel, and food was served family-style, with all the guests gathering around a large table. We felt like guests of the family, and dinner gave everyone the opportunity to hear local stories from Sophie, Francine and Callums, our hosts, and also to share our day’s adventures with other guests.
The meals for both lunch and dinner included an appetizer, a main course, and dessert. The chef was very responsive to my dietary requirements and adjusted my meal as needed.
Breakfast was served buffet-style in the pretty garden, offering a stunning view of the water holes, with elephants and zebras passing by.
4. Game drives are uncrowded and spectacular
Lewa House is located in a private conservancy. Being in a conservancy usually means fewer cars and tourists, and it also gives guests the opportunity to do game drives at night.
We did a game drive every morning and every evening, as this is the time when the animals are most active. The game drives here were exhilarating. Our driver, David, was highly professional and qualified. The conservancy has a great variety of wildlife, including rhinos, zebras, big cats, and more.
Lewa House uses a Land Rover with 3 rows of seats for its drives. We were sharing the car with another couple from England. It was my first time in a safari car with 3 rows, and I found it uncomfortable. If you are tall, the space between rows is just not big enough for your legs. That didn’t prevent us from having an excellent safari drive, but I was happy that the car was not loaded up to its full capacity of 6 people.
TIP: Most cars in the Masai Mara now pack 3 rows of seats (even the luxury camps), so check that when you book your camp. You will spend hours in that car, so you might as well make sure it is comfortable. In Masai Mara, we stayed at the Tangulia Mara camp, and they had comfortable 2-row cars.
The landscape is stunning. With the salt marsh, cliffs, and small rivers crossing the conservancy, the scenery is mesmerizing.
We saw so many rhinos that we actually stopped getting excited about seeing them. We even saw a baby rhino that seemed to be talking to a baby elephant. Our group watched their interaction for over 20 minutes. It was clear that the babies wanted to play together, but the parents didn’t seem convinced. The big male elephant was watching the situation closely!
Chasing Lions and Leopards
On our last drive, we went looking for a lion family. We tracked them, following their dung and tracks. It was almost sunset, and we were close to giving up when our guide David got a call from one of the rangers who said that they'd seen a leopard.
We set off on a mad and exhilarating drive on the dirt road to reach the leopard. It was very close to the road. It came so close to our car that we could have touched it (and the vehicles at Lewa House are totally open, so we actually could have, if we wanted to risk losing a hand). He stayed nearby, posing for photos for a short moment, and then went off stalking into the nearby woods. The alert noise made by the impalas was loud and scary: imagine listening to a broken radio with the volume way up. A hyena showed up as well, sensing an upcoming kill. What a thrilling moment!
After all that excitement, we had a quick sundowner drink (in the car, since the Leopard was still hunting nearby). Our group made it back happily to Lewa House for dinner, where we had great stories to share.
Another highlight of staying at Lewa House is the archaeological tour offered by Callum. The archaeological remains found in Lewa Conservancy are some of Kenya's best archaeological sites outside the Rift Valley. We visited the tool factory, and Callum gave us a passionate introduction to early human history.
5. You contribute to the financing of the Lewa Conservancy and preserving endangered species
Lewa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it has some of the best game viewings in the whole of East Africa. By choosing to visit Lewa, you're contributing to the conservation effort. The park fee included in the cost of your stay goes to the conservancy. Lewa House is working to keep the endangered species safe. The local community immensely supports animal conservancy. While we were there, we saw more patrol cars than tourist cars.
The Lewa Conservancy is showing excellent results in protecting endangered species:
- 14% of Kenya's rhinos live in Lewa Conservancy. They had 14 newborn rhinos in 2017, and no-poaching since 2013.
- 12% of the world's Grevy's zebra population lives in Lewa. In the late 1970s, over 15,000 Grevy’s zebra roamed in the wild. Hunting and poaching drastically reduced the population over the years, and the 2016 Great Grevy’s census results indicated that Kenya is now home to 2,350 Grevy’s zebras, 90% of the world’s population.
Lewa conservancy might be the best place in Kenya to see rhinos. Lewa House is an enchanted location, offering mouthwatering food and beautiful cottages. Sophie, Francine, and Collum are incredible hosts that have created a gem of a place that you will find hard to leave.