The Mukutan Retreat

I Dreamed of Africa – you have surely heard of it or read it. The autobiographical bestseller by Kuki Gallmann was translated into 21 languages and filmed with Kim Basinger.

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In short:

The native Italian realized her dream when she immigrated to Kenya with her husband, Paolo, and son, Emanuele, thirty years ago. The bought a ranch with 350 square kilometers of land. But fate hit them cruelly; Paolo lost his life in a car accident when Kuki was pregnant with their daughter, Sveva. Her son, Emanuele died from a snakebite. Traumas like these can break a person, but they made Kuki Gallmann strong. She gave up the plan for cattle breeding and converted the ranch, Ol Ari Nyiro, into the Gallmann Memorial Foundation.

Thus was created what is probably the only still intact ecosystem in East Africa, and her land on the Laikipia Plateau is a prime example of living environmental protection; the ranch is a Garden of Eden. 400 varieties of birds live here, along with lions, leopards, apes, over 4000 buffalos, more than 450 elephants, and the largest number of black rhinoceroses on private land outside of the national parks.

Kuki is an ambassador, a celebrity who doesn’t rest, and who says of herself, that she is “a bit eccentric.” True, but that makes her even more interesting. Scientists from all over the world are regularly her guests. Students and pupils from Kenya receive insights into conservation, and here they see an elephant in the wild for the first time – all financed by the Gallmann Foundation. Kuki knows that, “The world doesn’t belong to us, we are only the trustees.”

The Mukutan Gorge cuts right across the ranch. Kuki built four ultra-romantic houses overlooking it. In the Mukutan Retreat, the “meeting place,” the guest discovers pure romance. The center of interest is a fireplace whose flames throw flickering light into the sleeping area and the bath. No windows, everything is open in the front, with a view from the very private terrace over the gorge and into the wild landscape that will take your breath away. The night here is unforgettable. Animal sounds unplugged, enticing, caressing – a serenade. Once in a while exclamation points: a lion’s roar, a hyena’s coughing bark, a monkey’s scream. Remote. Every sound is natural.

Complete disconnection from the world is helped along by the warm light of candles, the quiet air-conditioning of the wind, and the heat of a cozy hot water bottle. If there is a place where a person can pause, become thoughtful and recognize that nature is superior to modern technology and frenzy, then this is it.