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Madison’s Adventure in Central Kenya

May 31, 2024  By: Madison

Madison Noble is one of Africa Adventure Consultants’ Safari Concierges, helping to ensure you are ready for your trip. She recently visited Kenya on safari and shared stories with us from her time on safari in the private Loisaba Conservancy. Welcome to the blog, Madison!

pool view at Karen Gables

I rose early on my first morning in Nairobi to the sound of strange birdsong. Pushing through the mosquito net and down the rug-lined stairs, I made my way to the terrace where strong Kenyan coffee and fresh mango waited. I’d landed on a new continent less than ten hours before, but found myself comfortably at home in the verdant, tiered garden of Karen Gables. Stillness after over twenty hours of travel across the world.

game drive vehicle

A voice behind me called – my driver had arrived, and it was time to head to the airport to board my charter flight to the bush. These small planes are the stuff of adventurous dreams, but my only focus was timing my dose of Dramamine correctly (yes – it works!). I boarded the twelve-seater plane along with two British couples who were traveling to Kenya for the first time and had been on my international flight the night before. Everyone was tired and excited. Adventure awaited.

scenic view

We landed on a dirt runway on a hot and sunny morning in central Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy. As I stepped down the stairs, my guide Bill reached out his hand and introduced himself. Bumping along the rock-studded roads, Bill asked which animals I wanted to see most. I was hoping to see cheetahs and rhinos – two of the more elusive inhabitants of Loisaba. Bill didn’t back down from the challenge – he promised that he’d find me both.

Two months prior to my journey to Kenya, 21 eastern black rhinos had been relocated to Loisaba Conservancy. These protected rhinos would be the first to call Loisaba home in five decades – since poachers had decimated the native population in the 1970s. They were shy of vehicles and still getting acclimated to their new home. Their presence was making the rest of the animals nervous – rangers were running patrols throughout the conservancy to track the rhinos’ movements.

horseback riding

Over the next four days, Bill took me over rocky ridges, across grassy savanna and along streams. We saw two spotted hyenas enjoying a breakfast of Cape buffalo, lion cubs rousing their mothers after a long day of rest and herds of elephants moving across the landscape on their migratory route. One morning, I hopped on a horse and followed a herd of common zebra as they searched for greener grass. We went on a ‘Ferrari safari’ as we raced to find the brother-sister cheetah pair who were perched on a termite mound in the evening sun. Magic.

The rhinos were found through binoculars, having set themselves high on ridges to avoid vehicles (the last time they encountered a vehicle, they were tranquilized and moved across a country. They were rightfully wary). When we approached, the rhino would glance back at us and set off running. “They won’t be like this forever,” Bill assured, “they are still getting used to their new home.” The naked eye could only spot the movements of the bush as the rhinos moved, like large boulders slowly rolling along.


One evening, we went to Kambaku Dam, home to a bloat of hippopotamuses, who typically only leave the water at night, when the sun can’t burn their delicate skin. On the shore paced a solitary striped hyena, an unusual sighting, deciding whether it should get its paws wet at the late hour to secure itself a meal– a floating dead baby hippo. Bill spoke, “male hippos will kill the babies of other males in order to mate with the female.” I watched as a female hippo swam closer to the baby, looking on, alone. The hyena retreated to the trees – its bright eyes visible in the shadows. This was just another part of the circle life.

star bed

One evening, we ascended the ridge above Kambaku Dam to Elewana’s Star Beds where I would be spending the night in a cozy bed on a platform under the stars. After a traditional Kenyan meal I made my way to my bed where a hot water bottle had been left under colorful Maasai blankets. As night closed in, the stars opened up and a symphony of animal sounds flooded in – insects, hippos, leopards, and hyenas – chirruping, grunting and whooping well into the early morning hours. I didn’t get much sleep, but it was amazing to truly feel part of the wild surrounding me.


I rose late on my final morning in Loisaba, wrapping myself in a robe as I walked onto my terrace to watch a tower of giraffes walking across the landscape below. The pace of Loisaba was easy and natural – it had sunk in and removed me from the hectic world I’d left behind in the United States. My journey through Kenya continued from here, but I knew that morning that I would make the trip back to Loisaba one day in the future.

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Photos courtesy AAC Safari Concierge Madison Noble, Karen Gables and Elewana