This is my fourth time to Borana Ranch, and I love it.
A series of spectacular thatched rondavals, perched on the side of a hill, overlooking a shallow canyon at the bottom of which is a watering hole where elephants regularly come to drink, Borana is everything magical Africa can offer. Located high on the Laikipia Plateau, just to the west of Mount Kenya, the 35,000 acre ranch is home to 2,000 head of cattle and all the game you could wish for. They have horses too, beautiful horses, and that’s why we’re here, to ride across Laikipia on one of the most stylish and spectacular trips we offer!
So I picked up the group early this morning from Jomo Kenyatta airport, transferred to Wilson domestic airfield – by way of an epic breakfast at the Aero Club – from where we flew in a 12-seater ‘caravan’, around Mount Kenya, up to Borana. Here we met our hosts, Michael and Nicky Dyer, and after a delicious lunch and lazy afternoon around the infinity pool, went for our first ride.
There is something incredibly special about riding in Africa. Given the dangerous nature of the wild animals, except for in certain, carefully managed areas, walking is difficult leaving motorised vehicles the only way of accessing the savannah, which has its obvious drawbacks. However, as predatory game tends to see a horse and rider as a larger and more dangerous predator than itself – rather than its next supper – you can ride right into the thick of it on horseback. You can look around to your hearts content, enjoying the sights and smells of Africa, and away from everything else but the giant skies and endless planes, and all the life that lives upon it, you can make-believe you’re back in a very different time.
To be honest on this first ride we didn’t see a huge amount. We rode close to a sparkling herd of zebra, startled a group of Grant’s gazelles, nearly rode into a solitary bull buffalo and saw giraffe, but only from afar. But this didn’t matter, for one thing we’ll have plenty more chances to see game in the next 6 days as we ride across Laikipia, but also because spotting game is not the only point of riding here. Just to sit on your horse, stepping out across the timeless savannah, breathing in the clear air, with the sun on your face the endless sky above, is joy enough. When we got back the ranch everyone was buzzing.
Tomorrow we’ll ride around the ranch again and then it will be off, away from ranch, the swimming pool, the wifi and mobile reception. Going dark… I can’t wait!