Lewa Conservancy is nestled at the foothills of Mount Kenya in Meru County and is home to a plethora of wildlife including elephant, giraffe, buffalo, antelope, lion, cheetah and leopard. Lewa is home to some of Africa’s critically endangered species, notably the Black Rhino and Grevy’s zebra.
The Conservancy has been hugely successful in conservation of the native black rhino and the resident population has grown at an impressive 6% per annum. Lewa plays a crucial role in rhino conservation in Kenya, facilitating the translocation of its rhinos to new or previously inhabited areas and providing technical expertise to established and new rhino sanctuaries.
Lewa’s Grevy’s zebra population is approximately 380 animals; it’s single largest at any one place in the world. With less than 3,000 left in the wild, the Grevy’s zebra is the world’s rarest zebra and the second largest equid. Lewa’s Research Team carries out important monitoring and research to inform management decisions on Grevy’s zebra conservation.
Lewa boasts some of the most spectacular landscapes in Kenya and Mount Kenya serves as the perfect backdrop. With gentle rolling hills and natural unspoilt beauty, guests enjoy the trip of a lifetime that consists of an unforgettable combination of great scenery, superb game viewing and excellent hospitality.
Visitors also have the opportunity to experience Lewa’s extensive conservation and development projects. Proceeds from tourism are ploughed back into various programmes. Lewa’s rich history in conservation spans three decades, having started out as the Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary established in 1983 to help save the last remaining black rhino in northern Kenya. At the time, poaching for rhino horn saw a once thriving population plummet to near extinction, and Ngare Sergoi was a brave and pioneering venture, driven by love for the rhino. The sanctuary thrived and was later re-established as the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in 1995.
The Safaricom Lewa Marathon is an annual fund raising event held at Lewa Downs. The 42 Kms (26 miles) endurance race is sponsored by Safaricom in partnership with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in order to raise funds for numerous community development and wildlife conservation efforts. Runner’s World Magazine included the Lewa Marathon as being, ‘One of the top ten races to run in your life’ due to its unique setting.
One of the more notable characteristics of the Lewa Marathon is the setting in which it takes place. The race takes place on the Lewa wildlife conservancy, a game park that is home to variety of large African wildlife including lions, elephants, rhinoceros, and the greatly feared Cape buffalo. There are no physical barriers separating the runners from the wildlife, making Lewa a unique experience in the running world. The course consists of two 20 kms (12 miles) loops that are run on a dirt road that ordinarily serves as a four-wheel drive trail for safari vehicles.
The average elevation of the course is 5,500 feet (1,700m) above sea level. Located within one hundred miles of the equator, the sun can bring afternoon temperature as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. The elevation, when combined with the equatorial sun has proven to test even the most seasoned marathon runners.