Expert Africa's reportInfo from the owner
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... and a beautiful piano at one end.
Sosian: Our full report
Rooms7 roomsTraveller's ratingExcellent (100%) From 12 reviewsChildrenGreat for active 5+OpenSosian is closed in May and November.
First built in the 1940s, then abandoned during the 1990s, Sosian was completely restored as a riding and game-viewing base in 2002. It's still a working cattle ranch, too, with a 1,600-head herd of Boran cattle - which is the largest stud Boran herd in Kenya. The main building is an Argentine estancia-style ranch house with views across lawns to the remote savannah of north-west Laikipia, close to the Ewaso Narok River.
Coming from Loisaba airstrip (the closest for scheduled flights) you cross Sosian's narrow bridge over the Ewaso Narok and drive up to the earth car-park area behind the main Sosian ranch house. Down a flight of red-brick steps, there's a small office where guests can pick up WiFi and a modest hallway. Beyond is the handsome lounge of the house, with big comfy sofas and bookshelves full of intriguing old tomes. The focal point of the room is a grand stone fireplace, which is framed by two huge elephant tusks – something that we felt a bit uncomfortable with. There's a billiard room with a full-size table around the corner, and a fine dining room. Through the French doors from the lounge, a generously wide, shady terrace – with wicker chairs for taking stock of the view and a nice old telescope – runs the entire width of the house.
The gardens and lawns at Sosian stretch for several acres. It is safe to walk around the gardens during the day but not any further. Watchmen are on duty at night to keep the elephants at bay. The freeform swimming pool, with plenty of space to relax around, tennis court (with net from Wimbledon!) and changing facilities are a short stroll away from the main areas.
Sosian's seven rooms, one of which is a family room, are set in blocks of two either in rough stone and mortar or a kind of pink adobe finish. They start just to the right or south of the main house and run along the west side of the lawn towards the swimming pool. They're at the back of broad verandas set with adjustable recliner chairs. Three of the rooms are double and four rooms are optional twin or double. All the rooms can be made into triples with an extra single bed for children. The last block before the swimming pool was converted at the end of 2012 to a family unit, with a double and en suite bathroom on one side and an interconnecting triple with en suite bathroom on the other. There is one larger, more private room on the other side of the main areas, called Italian Cottage, that is typically used for honeymooners, or those after a quieter stay.
The room interiors are bright and homely, with colourful rugs and bedcovers, writing tables, easy chairs, good lighting and optional mosquito nets. The bathrooms are a very good size, traditional in style, with large, pedestal washbasins, corner showers using pull-around shower curtains and wooden drainage platforms, towel horses and comfy robes.
Life at Sosian can be as fast paced or sedate as you like. It's a supremely relaxing place where you can do very little, or just flop by the beautiful pool, yet there's an abundance of activities to tempt you – and lots of good stuff for active kids too.
Sosian's stand-out activity is riding. Sosian breeds horses and usually has around 15 available for riding. You can do 2-3 hour rides as a morning or afternoon game-watching ride, or gentler rides close to the ranch house. All the horses are thoroughbred or Ethiopian breeds and range from around 13 to 16 hands in size – though at the moment there is a rider weight limit of 90kg. There's a good selection of quiet horses as well as more spirited mounts for more experienced riders. To ride out in the bush, however, guests have to be experienced riders, meaning confident at all paces up to a canter or gallop in open country where they might encounter big game. This usually means people who have owned their own horses or have ridden for five years or more. They can also do short arena lessons and rides around the lodge for the less experienced who want to have a go. Rides are not accompanied by a gun holder and they rely on the mounted guide to be able to avoid any situations that may arise. Wildlife is generally less easily spooked by people on horseback than on foot. When we went riding here in February 2019 we rode alongside several giraffes, which was an incredible experience. For experienced riders looking for longer rides Sosian offers fly-camping with the horses; you will ride for three to four hours in the morning, reaching camp around midday, in the afternoon you can choose to relax and relax or go for a gentle walk. After spending the night in the bush you will then ride back to Sosian Lodge the following morning.
Sosian also has a herd of five camels available for short rides – up to half a day.
You can also choose game walks of 1-3 hours, or walks out to a fly camp for an overnight away from the lodge. A licensed firearms holder, carrying either a .375 or .416 rifle, accompanies walks.
Game drives, including night drives, are available in Sosian's vehicles on the 97km2 Sosian Ranch, which has superb wildlife. There are two Toyota Land Cruisers, each of which comfortably carry nine passengers plus driver and guide. They're both open but have canvas roofs for rainy days or in very hot weather. The third vehicle is a Land Rover 110, which has a hard top with roof hatches and open sides, but the lodge hopes to replace this with another Land Cruiser.
With the exception of rhinos, all the large mammals are present on Sosian Ranch, which used to include a resident, breeding pack of wild dogs. Sosian collaborated with neighbouring Mpala Ranch on predator research and there used to be radio-collared indiviudals within the pack, allowing for tracking activities and reliable sightings. Sadly however, in 2017, canine distemper had a devastating impact on the wild dog populations across Laikipia, so much so that sightings these days are much more hit and miss. On our most recent visit in February 2019 we were told that wild dogs are slowly coming back in to the area due to the plentiful food sources. Whilst sightings can never be guaranteed, Sosian remains one of the better conservancies in Laikipia for wild dogs.
Sosian also has a pride of lions, some of which have been radio-collared. The ranch occasionally does leopard-baiting, using dead livestock from the ranch that they put in a tree near to the lodge. We have mixed opinions on this practice; on one hand we question the ethics of baiting a leopard, whilst on the other hand we can appreciate that the livestock died of natural causes and that this has led to some of the best leopard sightings we have had in Laikipia.