Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya

Photo: Sirikoi

You’re not a morning person. Everyone knows this. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 8:30 am, 9:45 am, or even 10:15 am, you have a hard time getting up. Between a dark room, a warm comforter, and fluffy pillows, you’re cozy and completely happy staying in bed. Except for this morning. Today, you bounce out of bed when your wake-up call arrives at 6:00 am.

This wake-up call is delivered in the form of a tray containing coffee and treats. It’s sitting on your wide wooden deck, next to two saucer chairs, when you pull open the flaps of your tent. Yes, your tent. You slept that soundly inside canvas walls. Not right away. At first, you could hear antelope snorting and hyenas laughing among the acacia trees outside. There may have even been a lion roaring in the distance. But, eventually, you drifted into a deep sleep.

Now you’re bouncing around your tent thanks to both the caffeine and excitement. You pull open the rest of the flaps, exposing glass-less windows, around the tent. The just-starting-to-rise sun starts streaming across the wooden floor and bouncing off the hand-carved furniture. You walk to the back of the tent, where a free-standing Victorian bathtub and a separate rain shower are in the bathroom. There’s no time for a soak now, though. You quickly brush your teeth so you can head over to the main lodge.

Photo: Sirikoi

The open-air main lodge is the heart of Sirikoi. It features a thatched roof, a cozy lounge, a dining deck with a fire pit, and a gift shop filled with locally made crafts. It’s decorated with more handmade furniture, African art and textiles, and bronze wildlife sculptures. There’s a sundeck overlooking the pool. Plus a resident giraffe, rescued after he was abandoned, is hanging out near the organic vegetable garden.

But you can’t hang out with him at the lodge right now. You’re about to go on a game drive, complete with your own guide and tracker, to search for eastern black rhinos, Grévy’s zebras, East African cheetahs, and families of white elephants. You have a good chance of seeing them since November’s rainy season just ended; the natural waterholes haven’t dried out yet. Then, after riding around for a few hours, you’ll return to the lodge for breakfast, a bath, lunch, a swim, and tea time before heading out for an afternoon drive. The animals are clearly your focus here.

Here is the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya. Its 62,000 acres were a cattle ranch and then a black rhino sanctuary before being turned into a non-profit conservancy in 1995. Twelve percent of Kenya’s eastern black rhinos now live here. The world’s single largest population of Grévy’s zebras (about 350 of them) do, too. While the eco-chic Sirikoi Lodge was opened by second-generation conservationists. The Roberts, who might join you for appetizers and cocktails around the fire pit before dinner, certainly know what they’re doing. They got you up at 6:00 am after all.

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