• Ol Lentille is a sanctuary from the stresses and strains of modern life
There are several special places in Laikipia. Turning left in Nanyuki after the mall and passing the British Army barracks is always one of my favourite moments on any safari in this part of the country. As the tarmac disappears and the countryside opens up, there is always something interesting to see.
The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, the only lodge in the 40,000-acre conservancy, was described by my wife as somewhere you would imagine movie stars would visit and it's easy to concur with this analogy. The lodge is built discreetly into a craggy hill with private villas, all arranged to provide complete privacy from one another as well as individuality.
This is not like your average safari venue, in that each family or group has a private butler, valet and private guide. The villas are between one and three bedrooms and a separate dining area with everything on hand to wallow in the epitome of opulence. It feels like you have your very own house in paradise.
Designed and built by John and Gill Elias and given to the community, they have remained as the managers, and their unbridled passion and love of this special area and its people are evident in the sheer range of community projects they support through conservation tourism, including a number of bursaries to support school, college and university education for residents.
The lodge was designed to offer the most panoramic views and it gives a perfect score, with a pool and outdoor dining area, where the hours will disappear in the sunshine. You can lounge while spotting elephants roam the plains below with a chilled drink as the strains of daily life melt away.
To top this off, every stay comes with unlimited spa use, so there is literally no reason not to feel the most relaxed you can remember. If you fancy a unique experience, Gill is happy to guide a yoga session to find your zen as the sun dips to the horizon.
Of course, safari is generally about the wildlife, and with the sanctuary funding the protection of the reserve, the wildlife has spoken with its feet and comes in high numbers. Large numbers of elephants come by, relaxed with no concern about conflict with humans. And in recent years, the number of wild dog sightings have been phenomenal and even the now frequent leopard.
The guides at the sanctuary like to get out and about, though there is absolutely no pressure to do so. But for the adventurous, there is quad biking, mountain biking or camel riding. For the curious, there are visits to local schools and villages to see how communities live and how traditional cultures have evolved with modern times to influence everyday lives of the communities.
Guides are local Samburu and Masaai who have lived their entire lives in these areas and have countless stories to regale visitors with, as well as a knowledge of exactly where to go to find just what their guests are looking for.
For those who savour breathtaking views that go on forever, my favourite is to take a cool box with your favourite tipple and have a gentle walk with your guide up to a viewpoint where you can watch the magic of a Laikipia sundowner. The only picture in my bedroom at home is of this very view, and there is a reason for that.
The sanctuary is just what it says, a sanctuary from the stresses and strains of modern life. It's somewhere where you can reconnect with nature while doing as little or as much as you like and feeling like you are detached from the rest of the world. It's somewhere you will remember forever and that you will always ache to return to.