Solio Ranch Safari Guide
The sanctuary on Solio Ranch (also Solio Game Reserve) on Laikipia Plateau was founded in 1970 as a breeding ground for white and black rhinos. This has been extremely successful, and many rhino have been translocated to other parks and reserves. The small park is literally full of rhino and a variety of other safari animals have been introduced as well.
Pros & Cons
A chance to support a successful rhino breeding program
Excellent photo opportunities of black and white rhino
Stunning views of Mount Kenya
One of the most luxurious lodges in Kenya
Very small reserve with small game-drive circuit
Unnatural number of rhinos and interactions between black and white rhino
Wildlife & Animals
Solio Ranch is more a sanctuary than a game reserve. The small property is totally fenced for big animals. Black and white rhino have been introduced for breeding, and the concentrations of these animals are second to none here. Other wildlife includes zebra, giraffe and buffalo. Antelope species include the stately eland, beisa oryx, waterbuck and impala.
Rhinos are the specialty of the small reserve. White rhinos wander around the grassy plains. Although usually in small family groups of three to four individuals, herds up to 15 can be encountered here. Black rhino, usually very shy, can be seen walking casually in the open as well. Sometimes the two species even hang out together in mixed groups. Predators such as lion, cheetah and leopard are either resident, or pass through regularly.
More than 350 species have been recorded at Laikipia Plateau – it’s a great birding destination with many north Kenya specials. There has been little research done on bird species and populations in the area, so there might be more species present. Solio Ranch isn’t really set up as a birding destination, but private game drives and guided walks can be arranged.
Best Time to Visit
Wildlife viewing at Solio Ranch is good any time of the year, but heavy rains can disrupt safari plans. The reserve closes in November.
June to September – Dry Season
Mostly sunny and it doesn’t rain much
Roads are in good condition
The lodge only has six rooms and it never gets busy
A lot of dust in the sky and the scenery is less spectacular
High season rates apply
October to May – Wet Season
Low season rates might apply
Newborn animals litter the landscape
Lush scenery and crisp, clear air offer stunning views of Mount Kenya on a cloudless day
There are many overcast days
Bad road conditions can interfere with safaris
Game drives can be disrupted due to the rain
Weather & Climate
Solio’s high altitude ensures a cool climate. The reserve is close to the equator, which keeps temperatures from varying much. Early to mid-twenties are characteristic in the daytime, although it’s much cooler once the sun sets. Pack warm clothes for game drives in the early morning. The long rains are from March to May. The short rains peak in November.
Dry Season – June to September
It’s nice and sunny during the Dry season, although showers can sometimes interrupt the sunshine. The climate is temperate with average temperatures around 23°C/73°F. Warm clothing is needed at nighttime and during early mornings with temperatures around 9°C/48°F.
June & July – The sunny weather in these months is sometimes interrupted with a shower of rain. A lovely afternoon temperature of 23°C/73°F is the norm.
August & September – In August there is a small increase in rainfall, and also in temperature. An afternoon average of 24°C/75°F is typical.
Wet Season – October to May
The so called ‘short rains’ and ‘long rains’ mark this period from October to May – they are separated by a drier stretch (December to February). The sun struggles to break through the clouds, but it doesn’t usually rain all day.
October & November – ‘Short rains’: October usually sees the beginning of the rains. Average afternoon temperature is around 25°C/77°F.
December, January & February – This period is marked by less rain – it divides the short and long rains. It’s difficult to predict exactly when it will begin, and there will still be rain some days.
March, April and May – ‘Long rains’: April is the dampest month. It rains most days for at least part of the day. Driving becomes difficult on water-sodden tracks. It’s not quite as cold in the early morning – the temperature is around 9°C/48°F.
Solio Ranch is situated 180km/111mi from Nairobi, which is approximately three hours' travel by car. The easiest way to get to Solio is to arrange a charter flight to the private airstrip that is located 10 minutes from Solio Lodge. It is also possible to take a scheduled domestic flight from Nairobi to Nanyuki airstrip, followed by a 30-minute transfer to Solio Lodge.
Getting to Nairobi isn’t difficult as the city serves as the major gateway to East Africa. International flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi.