Travellers seeking a more private and tailored alternative to Africa’s innumerable safari lodges can now visit what may well be the continent’s most beautiful holiday home in Kenya.
Found on the Borana Conservancy in Laikipia, a few miles north of the equator, Arijiju is named after the hill upon which it stands and is the result of a decade of work. Working with architects from Johannesburg and London, its Nigeria-born, Europe-based owner wanted to create a base that would allow his children to experience the freedom and simplicity he enjoyed in his youth.
Crafted from hand-cut Meru stone and inspired partly by the monasteries of neighbouring Ethiopia, the squat five-bedroom property is clad with rough-hewn rock and capped by grass-covered flat roofs to meld with the landscape. Though the surrounding Borana Conservancy houses a working cattle ranch – and so doesn’t quite offer the entirely unblemished vistas regular safari-goers might be accustomed to elsewhere – it is still rife with wildlife and Arijiju’s guests might expect to see elephant, lions, cheetah, leopard, giraffe and black rhino. There are also some 330 bird species in the area and when not actively seeking wildlife, it’s possible to enjoy horseback riding, mountain biking or quad-biking.
But the house is an attraction in itself and longer-term occupants might wish to simply while away days on site. With its interiors designed by Maira Koutsoudakis (perhaps best known for her work on North Island in the Seychelles), rooms are a medley of rustic African fixtures, earthy colours and occasional extravagant European flourishes (such as the grand chandeliers seen throughout). Most set alongside a central courtyard, bedrooms feature standalone copper tubs, indoor and outdoor showers and leather desks; billed the constellation suite, one additional plaza serves as an outdoor bedroom for those who want to sleep beneath the stars.
With a resident staff of 14 including a butler, ranger and chefs who rustle up healthy and light “Ottolenghi-style” cuisine, up to 10 visitors will have all needs promptly met and full use of facilities that include a games room, cinema, library and infinity pool. Staffed by a masseuse and beauty therapist whose treatments are included in hire rates, the spa features a hammam and yoga deck; more active types can make use of a gym and tennis and squash courts.
It all conspires to provide an offering unlike anything else currently available in Kenya, and for an entirely private gathering of family and friends it’s hard to think of a more enticing address in the country.
Available only on an exclusive-use basis, rates at Arijiju start from $7,500 per night for up to six guests (with a minimum stay of three nights). Additional guests are charged at $600 per adult and $300 per child; under-7s free. Rates include board, transfers and activities. From the UK, Red Savannah can arrange packages.