Sydney Pollack’s romantic tour de force Out of Africa opens with a whimsical montage of visions from the Kenyan savanna at the turn of the 20th century. Perhaps the most memorable of these scenes is that iconic mustard-colored biplane, floating across an open, endless sky. As the narrative evolves, the plane begins to symbolize a sort of homecoming—the harbinger of a safari explorer returning to the comfort of a familiar homestead. That very biplane was recently purchased at a Paris auction by Jochen Zeitz, who made it his mission to bring it back into Africa to share with guests of his own historical ranch: the incomparable Segera Retreat.
Encircled by the wilds of Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau, Segera is a sanctuary—a restorative place to come home to after a day on safari. A handful of villas dot the property’s manicured gardens, protected by a natural cactus hedge that keeps wildlife at bay, granting guests the freedom to wander and relax within a lush oasis. Interiors are a celebration of Africa through the ages, with handwritten letters from David Livingstone displayed next to avant-garde paintings created by some of the continent’s most promising contemporary artists. These thoughtful touches inspire a cultural safari within the walls of the retreat—for when you’re not off tracking elephants and lions across Kenya’s open plains.
Segera is a manifestation of one of Africa’s great conservation success stories. In a region of Kenya devoid of state-protected zones, the Laikipia Plateau’s wildlife habitats and centuries-old pastoralist cultures have depended almost entirely on private landowners like Segera proprietor Jochen Zeitz for protection. Upon purchasing the 50,000-acre ranch in 2005, Zeitz set out to replenish a landscape that had been overgrazed and overhunted. He designed his own sustainability framework and set about to restore the beauty of this land and preserve the cultural legacy of its indigenous peoples.
Today, the Laikipia Plateau supports the second-highest density of wildlife in Kenya and is the only region in the country where species’ population numbers are increasing. Area landowners have accomplished this incredible feat while still managing to maintain the cattle herds and livestock systems that are critical to the way of life for pastoralists like the Maasai and Samburu. Propelled by these successes in Laikipia, Jochen was inspired to establish the Zeitz Foundation to implement sustainability projects across the globe.
Guests who book their stay through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World have the exclusive opportunity to meet with researchers who are working to conserve local populations of the patas monkey—a species whose numbers have dwindled to just a few hundred throughout Kenya. Join these scientists in the field as they track and monitor patas monkey troupes, learn about their behaviors and the threats these animals face due to habitat loss and climate change, and see how Segera’s protected landscapes are providing a viable habitat for the species.
Segera adheres to the 4Cs approach to sustainability—the brainchild of lodge owner Jochen Zeitz. All aspects of the lodge, from the technology used on the property to excursions available to guests, are inspired and governed by the philosophy’s four cornerstones: conservation, culture, community, and commerce.
The lodge works to protect wildlife by monitoring resident fauna via foot patrols and annual game counts, and they preserve energy and natural resources through the use of solar power, harvested rain water, sustainable food sources, and other efficient technologies. Culture is celebrated throughout the property—from the modern-art displays on your villa walls, to the lodge-supported beading co-ops run by the tribes living on the surrounding savanna. Segera also supports local communities and commerce through their area primary school and by establishing sustainable agricultural practices in neighboring villages.
Condé Nast, Gold List: One of the Best 8 Lodges in Africa, 2016
New York Times, 52 Places to Go in 2014
Please note: A State Department travel warning for Kenya is currently in effect (click here to view the State Department's information page on Kenya). We are closely monitoring local tensions in the region. We will do our best to alert booked guests to any significant developments about which we are made aware.
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