A LUXURIOUS, ART FILLED OASIS WHERE ANIMALS ROAM FREE ON KENYA’S LAIKIPIA PLATEAU
Segera is not a camp, but a home; not a big five destination, but a wilderness retreat. Situated in the very heart of the Laikipia Plateau, nestled between the glorious Mount Kenya to the east and the Great Rift Valley to the west, on 20,000 hectares, or 50,000 acres, of preserved land, Segera Retreat is a wildlife sanctuary that offers a unique experience of utmost luxury amidst natural beauty and personal enrichment from conscientious, sustainable living. The Segera lifestyle, focused around conservation, community, culture and commerce, is carefully designed to inspire your senses while promoting practices that impact the environment and the community positively.
Laikipia is a diverse region boasting woodlands, grasslands and fertile riverbeds, and attracting herds of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, warthog and many other native species throughout the year.
In 2005, when Jochen Zeitz acquired Segera, it was frequented by poachers, the land was overgrazed, and the region struggling to support its communities and wildlife. Determined to restore and protect Segera’s fauna and flora, Zeitz developed the 4C concept – Community, Commerce, Culture and Conservation – and turned his attention to conserving the beauty of the region, engaging the community around him, and preserving the cultural legacy of the land’s indigenous peoples.
With Segera’s unique biodiversity now preserved, endangered species, big game, and migratory mammals have once again found refuge at Segera. In 2009, Jochen Zeitz established the Zeitz Foundation, with headquarters at Segera, to ensure the land will remain protected in perpetuity. Segera Retreat opened its doors to the public in March 2013, to share with the world the story of land and wildlife preservation, community support, and luxury amidst an ethos of sustainability.
The retreat is open year round.
Segera offers privacy in gracious accommodation – six private timber and thatch villas raised above a profusion of flora, offering a perfect view out onto the wild African savannah. The villas are all run on solar power. Each villa, uniquely decorated with artworks by African artists, has its own private deck outfitted with lounge chairs and a private outdoor hot tub, offering tranquility in a secluded setting. With Mount Kenya as the backdrop, and spectacular views over the Laikipia Plateau, Segera Retreat is an extraordinary oasis of charm and beauty. The villas are situated in the midst of a stunning botanical garden with lush exotic native plants and an impressive African contemporary sculpture collection. Enclosing the garden is an amazing plethora of cacti, that when in bloom is filled with small emerald sunbirds, and outside this boma the unspoiled African savannah awaits.
There are also two larger villas; Segera House for a maximum of four people, and Villa Segera, the perfect romantic retreat for two. Segera House has a lounge, raised observation deck and private garden with a saltwater pool. A vintage Landcruiser and and Royce Rolls garnish the lounge area and additional fine antiques and art decorate this beautiful and luxurious villa. Villa Segera comprises two wooden buildings, interconnected by a swing bridge, with a private veranda, pool and lounge area, also decorated with fine antiques and art. A private garden and saltwater pool and an exclusive Michael Poliza image gallery enhance the experience.
The excellent chefs at Segera offer many culinary options to suit all palates – dining here is personalized and highly creative. Meals and high teas feature the freshest produce from Segera’s fruit, vegetable and herb gardens, or are sourced from neighboring farms. Choose to eat al fresco by the communal pool or in your villa’s private lounge area, or in one of the dining areas – the Paddock House with stunning views of the African landscape and Mount Kenya, or in the renovated horse stables, a remarkable setting for intimate dining and relaxation by the fireplace, or the Wine Tower.
The artfully designed Wine Tower houses a vast collection of wines from Africa, and champagnes from France, stored in optimum conditions. Cooled by solar energy and a tank harvesting rainwater, the Wine Tower is an architectural example of Segera’s philosophy. Guests are invited to fully explore the Tower and select a bottle or two to accompany their evening meal. Or, alternately, order a special dinner served on the premises — its beautiful design and naturally cooled temperatures provide the perfect ambience for dining amidst shelves of the best wines from African vineyards that have observed the principles of minimal intervention and sustainable practices in winemaking for generations. Each vineyard practices traditional wine culture techniques, resulting in wines with minimal chemical applications and maximum expression of the fruit and the soil in which they are grown.
At Segera there is a deep commitment to the conservation of the land and its resources. Preserving the unique biodiversity in the Laikipia region is an essential cornerstone of the conservation efforts in Kenya. Here, wildlife populations and habitats are being conserved on mostly private and communal lands. Founded in 2008, the Zeitz Foundation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to maintain, improve and promote the integrity of ecosystems through effective, sustainable practices benefitting nature and humanity. In 2009, the Zeitz Foundation launched the Long Run Initiative as a conduit for best practices and shared knowledge through an expanding global network of sustainable eco-tourism destinations. Visiting Segera Retreat, a Long Run Destination site, has a positive impact on the entire region, supporting communities and preserving the natural environment.
Segera observes the 4Cs: from wildlife monitoring and species conservation, to renewable energy and recycled water efforts; from community training, employment and cultural preservation, to using locally grown produce and sourcing from socially responsible wine cultivars.
Energy, wildlife, water, communities and cultural traditions are being harnessed, protected, inspired and preserved. In addition to the many holistic conservation and community initiatives being successfully implemented, biodiversity and research programs are being introduced and migratory mammals are now finding refuge – as a guest you can engage in any of these initiatives and projects. There are several opportunities – such as planting indigenous trees in the Wangary Maathai Memorial Forest; riding with the Conservation Unit Rangers as they monitor, tracking and observing wildlife; joining a Patas monkey foot patrol, or going on a game drive to witness how removing miles of game fencing has helped vital elephant migratory routes open up again across the EWASO Eco system.
All activities on offer showcase sustainability values. As a guest you can choose to engage with local cultures, learn about conservation and community, and experience the magical wildlife of Laikipia. Wildlife can be viewed from 4×4 vehicles; these include endangered species such as the Patas monkey, Grevy’s zebra and the wild dog. Walking safaris are also available. There is a beautiful spa complemented with a steam bath, saltwater swimming pool and a gym. Guests can also enjoy regular exhibitions of locally and internationally acclaimed artists that allow for the rare opportunity to view the private contemporary African art collection of Segera’s owner, Jochen Zeitz.
African contemporary art is an integral part of Segera, providing a truly unique experience to view the breadth of African art and culture in these lush beautiful surroundings. The Zeitz Collection is considered one of the leading collections of contemporary art from Africa and the Diaspora in the world today. Founded in 2002, the collection comprises major works of paintings, sculptures, videos and installations, including works by Sue Williamson, Chris Ofili, Marlene Dumas, Kudzanai Chiurai, Penny Siopis, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu, Jane Alexander, Kehinde Wiley, Godfried Donker, Hank Willis Thomas and others.
While many pieces from the collection are regularly exhibited in museums worldwide, much of the collection is distributed over the 50,000 acres of Segera Retreat, available to guests in their private villas, in common rooms, throughout Segera’s gardens, and in the restored stable gallery. Approaching the entrance to Segera, whether by air or by car, you are greeted by a site-specific, specially commissioned land art installation that tells the story of time and African migration.
Performance pieces revolving around sustainability, conservation and peace efforts in Africa are also presented regularly in many of the Retreat’s venues. An interpretive tour of the private Zeitz Collection is one of the cultural highlights at Segera where leading and emerging artists from across Africa are showcased in a series of changing exhibitions organized by world-renowned curator, Mark Coetzee.
Segera is the central wildlife sanctuary in Laikipia, situated in the wooded savannah and grasslands of the Laikipia Plateau at an altitude of 1,800 meters, or 5,906 feet above sea level and immediately north of the equator. Home to a vast array of animals, birds and plant life, Segera provides an important corridor for the migration of elephants and other wide-ranging species, as well as a permanent home for many endangered species.
Laikipia forms part of the 56 000-square-kilometre Ewaso ecosystem. In addition to supporting the endangered Patas monkey, the African wild dog and 40% of the world’s remaining Grevy’s zebra can also be spotted here as can lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, elephants, buffaloes, elands, reticulated giraffes, beisa oryxes, and a wealth of plains game. The number of bird species recorded in the area totals 365.
For the keen photographer, Segera offers a range of opportunities – from macro photography of the striking botanical gardens with its wealth of flora and artworks to wildlife and landscape photography in the stunning surroundings. The Samburu, Turkana and Borana are pastoralists living in the vicinity of Segera, with cultural identities that have been celebrated and beautified by intricate beadwork for nearly four centuries. In 2010, the Zeitz Foundation initiated a community-based enterprise group, where women could both earn an income and preserve their culture. The group unites the three ethnic groups with complementing skills to create handmade pieces that are both beautiful and symbolic. Guests are welcome to visit the village where these women work; getting an insight into their culture and community while witnessing the revival of a craft that is age-old.
Wildlife is returning to Segera, although not yet as abundantly as in other areas of Kenya. There are wonderful opportunities to spend time in beautiful landscapes in privacy, with excellent photographic prospects of Africa’s mega fauna.