The Best Private Concessions

  • Ranches throughout the Laikipia Plateau (Kenya): Kenya's Laikipia Plateau is the country's hottest destination for enlightened safari enthusiasts looking to escape the crowds and experience a less commercial, more authentic brush with the wilds. This is also where you'll find the greatest number of smart, well-managed, conservation-savvy ranches, many of them with intimate and exclusive camps or lodges (or both) where top-notch game-viewing opportunities are available day and night. Because the ranches and privately managed game reserves exist without the rules and strictures of the state-run parks, here you'll have the chance to set out on foot, on horseback, on mountain bike, and in the company of camels -- there are chances to sleep under the stars (at Loisaba) or strike camp in the middle of an untamed wilderness. Laikipia may not offer the same kind of dramatic high-density game viewing experienced in the popular Masai Mara, but it offers the seductive allure of an African wilderness completely free of the press of mass tourism.
  • Grumeti Private Reserve (Adjoining Serengeti, Tanzania): If you're fortunate enough to have a rather cavalier attitude toward budget constraints, make a beeline for the Grumeti Private Reserve, bordering Serengeti in the northwest. A beautiful concession, it offers classic East African landscapes explored with exceptional guides, both informative and charming, who are allowed to go off-road to approach the game up-close in open-topped vehicles. Accommodations are also unparalleled, but perhaps the real luxury is the fact that only a handful of guests enjoy access to the Grumeti's 138,000 game-rich hectares (340,860 acres). Also the best place for horseback safaris.
  • Klein's (Adjoining Serengeti, Tanzania): Like Grumeti, Klein's offers off-road game drives, allowing visitors the chance to get really close to animals, as well as night drives and guided walks, accompanied by an armed guide. Guides here are also top-class (typical of &Beyond's stringent selection and training), and the experience is similarly exclusive to the handful of guests overnighting at the camp. Hardly surprising that Klein's is one of the most popular destinations in the Serengeti, despite the fact that accommodations are not quite up to &Beyond standards.
  • Ol Donyo Wuas and Campi ya Kanzi (Chyulu Hills, Kenya): Although lovingly described by Hemingway, the Chyulu Hills in Southern Kenya remain an undiscovered paradise -- visually among the most satisfying stretches of real estate in East Africa. The rolling volcanic hills and vast swaths of lushly vegetated lava flow have hardly seen any development, and views are magnificent no matter what way you look at it -- not to mention the spectacular vistas of nearby Mount Kilimanjaro, best appreciated at dawn or, if you're lucky, with a sundowner from atop a rocky hill. There are just two remote and wonderful places to bed down in this region, and both of them offer the thrill of being surrounded by Africa at its most pristine. Ol Donyo Wuas is one of the most luxurious places to stay in Kenya -- enormous, lavish suites overlook a vast plain and every imaginable activity is on offer, including light aircraft flights at sunrise and a chance to compare your jumping skills with Maasai warriors. Far less lavish, but with a no less magnificent setting (and some incredible views of Mount Kili), Campi ya Kanzi is a conservation-focused project with emphasis on community empowerment, and it's a good place to better understand the ways of the Maasai.
  • Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.