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Soysambu Conservancy


While trekking through the primordial landscape of Soysambu it is hard to ignore the rhythms of its past and concerns for the future. Soysambu means “the place of striated rock” in Maasai whilst Sambu is also the Maasai name for a cattle colour.

The history of Soysambu across the last century is inseparable from the name Delamere: today’s successful farming methods were originally pioneered by the first Delamere to settle in Kenya, the third Baron: born Hugh Cholmondeley.

An important character in Kenya’s past, Lord Delamere dedicated his foresight and British fortune to develop Kenya’s farm potential into one of the most efficient and prosperous in Africa. A great adventurer, Delamere arrived in Kenya on foot after a 1000 mile walk from Somalia – and fell for the country. He returned to settle permanently in 1903 with his first wife Lady Florence, daughter of the Earl of Enniskillin and their son Thomas, who was born in 1900. Their initial home was at Njoro, but in 1906- after suffering heavy losses of livestock and money they moved much of the livestock to recently acquired land at Soysambu.

The conservancy covers the northern, western and part of the southern shores of Lake Elmenteita. This lake is the last breeding place in Kenya for pelicans, which nest on some rocky islands in the lake.The pelicans feed in Lake Nakuru, 10 km to the west, and then feed their young with fish they have carried across in their beaks. They generally prey on Tilapia grahamii. Some have escaped into the waters of Lake Elmenteita, where they breed in the Kekopey hot springs.

History has it that thousands of years ago, this area was rent by violent volcanic activity. Huge volcanoes to the south sent massive lava flows towards the lake which, in those times, was much higher than today. Around the western shore, molten lava burst through the earth's crust creating a jumble of black lava ridges and plateaus interspersed with hidden glades and hollows. Near the lake itself, these are filled with 10 foot high bamboo grass but further inland, they contain beautiful yellow acacias and rich green warburgia trees.

Stretching between two of the Rift Valleys great lakes, Soysambu has all the advantages that entails, plus the great bonus of peace and quiet. You may game drive for almost 6 hours or even a full day through the conservancy, and see precisely no other people. There are a couple of small lodges here, and a luxury camp has just opened, but by comparison with Nakuru and parts of the Mara when it is busy, Soysambu is a wilderness.

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