In the game-rich Kenyan Highlands, and one of Kenya's most breathtaking natural landscapes, the ultra-luxurious hideaway of Arijiju lies low within the hillside it's named after. It's surrounded by swathes of golden grass, acacia trees, wild African olive and twisted yellow fever trees that looks towards the magnificent jagged and snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya. Set within Laikipia County's Aberdares Mountain Range, forested valleys, riverine tracts, and grassy savannahs, Arijiju is ascribed as the most beautiful bush residence in Africa. Available for exclusive hire for up to ten guests, it truly sets the bar for luxury safari experiences.
Built in a “Swahili Chic” blend of Arab, Indian, and African cultures, Arijiju fits into its surroundings as though it had always been there - a 21st century house built with 12th-century craftsmanship in local quarried Meru, stone hand-chiselled by local stonemasons. Designed to co-exist and celebrate nature with sustainability at its heart, it has an enriching sense of place, where the indoors and outdoors merge as one.
The owner collaborated with Architects Alex Michaelis of London-based Michaelis Boyd and Nick Plewman of Johannesburg-based Plewman Architects to conceive a comfortable, timeless, yet contemporary haven cut into the bedrock and hidden underneath a living turf roof.
Arijiju is reached via a winding pathway through British garden designer Jinny Blom's divine landscaping leading to a massive Lamu doorway, that reveals an exquisite cloistered courtyard and leads to the sumptuous interiors designed by Johannesburg-based Maira Koutsoudakis (considered by many the go-to person for private hideaways). In addition to five expansive bedrooms, a cinema, and a library, there is a magnificent double-height living and dining room with large fireplaces and glazed arches leading out to the courtyard. An earthy colour scheme, with walls in polished concrete and exposed rock, opulent chandeliers and bespoke handcrafted furnishings lend a soulful fusion. Luxury abounds - a wood-burning hot tub, indoor and outdoor showers, and deep copper baths, a 25-meter-long cantilevered infinity pool, with views over a waterhole that attracts giraffe and elephants.
All this and the opportunity to spot the best of Africa's wildlife. Guests can design their own bespoke retreats. An organic garden supplies the farm-to-fork menus with energy-rich, ingredients to regenerate and renew a sense of wellbeing. There is a gym, tennis and squash courts, a yoga studio, and a stunning spa with a vaulted Hamman, a cold plunge pool, rain showers, and a tranquil treatment room to luxuriate in their deliciously sensual treatments. An open-air Constellation Suite allows you to fall asleep watching shooting stars, clusters, and nebulae.
Arijiju is part of the Borana Lewa Conservancy that is home to over 300 elephants, 334 bird species and flourishing lion prides along with cheetah, leopard, giraffe, buffalo, and the endangered animals that migrate through this wildlife safe haven spread over 90,000 acres. Enjoy guided walks, long hikes, mountain biking, quad bikes, along with traditional morning and evening big five game drives, buggy safaris and unique 'running safaris.' Or you can take a helicopter safari over the snow-covered peaks of Mount Kenya and the otherwise inaccessible lakes, the volcanic plains of nearby Ol Lolokwe mountain, the wondrous primordial cycad forest, and the flamingoes on the shores of Lake Najuru.
Spend your evenings indulging in sunset yoga, sundowners around the rooftop fire pit, and enjoy candlelit dinners in the lantern-lit courtyard while stargazing.
Arijiju is a sanctuary of peace and adventure with absolute respect for the land, animals, and people. 100% of the profits are funnelled into Borana's conservation and community projects.
(Arijiju images courtesy of Dook | David Crookes)
Anji Connell is an interior architect, garden designer and self-proclaimed nomad who regularly writes about art, design, lifestyle and travel from her globe-trotting adventures. Known for her bubbly persona and even more exuberant sense of style, Anji's portfolio spans everything from interior styling to furniture and landscape design for some of the world's most beautiful spaces. For now, you will find her