Home to one of the world’s birding hotspots and it’s virtually unknown outside East Africa.
Driving north along the new blacktop highway from Nanyuki, it is not long after leaving Isiolo that you pass the flat-topped massif of Ololokwe and enter what old Kenya hands used to call the NFD – the lawless Northern Frontier District that extends all the way to Ethiopia. An hour later, if you swap the tarmac for a rough murram track you will soon find yourself in a fathomless wilderness of commiphora scrub, red rocky kopjes and winding luggas lined with doum palms.
Welcome to Sera, one of Kenya’s newest wildlife conservancies, where you can drop out of the 21st century and hide in 300,000 acres of nothing but thorn trees, lizards and echoing silence broken only by the insane clucking of yellow-billed hornbills.
There is only one place to stay, a basic but supremely comfortable camp under the palms beside the Kauro Lugga, where Alex Hunter, who runs Ol Pejeta Bush Camp on the Laikipia Plateau, has exclusive rights for conducting walking safaris in one of East Africa’s most remote wild areas.
The highlight of any safari to Sera is a visit to Kisima Hamsini – The Fifty Wells – where local pastoralists have dug deep holes through the calcrete surface rock to reach the natural springs beneath.
The gift of water in a dry land attracts all kinds of animals including elephants, lions and Grevy’s zebras; but for as long as anyone can remember this spot has also been home to one of the great unsung spectacles of the birding world when, during the dry season, upwards of 40,000 sandgrouse fly in from the surrounding deserts to drink.
Imagine an airborne version of the Serengeti wildebeest migration complete with attendant goshawks and peregrines and you have some idea of what to expect.
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