GREAT PLAINS OL DONYO LODGE - CHYULU HILLS NATIONAL PARK
Ol Donyo Lodge is located on the Maasai-owned Mbirikani Group Ranch and the lodge is perched on a hillside with views of east Africa’s classic savannahs below and Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day. This stunningly beautiful area is incredibly diverse and the camp has many activities ranging from game drives and walking safaris to horse riding.
Most of the lodge staff are from the local Maasai community and the Mbirikani Group Ranch and Ol Donyo Lodge are examples of a community tourism partnership whereby land is leased from the Maasai by the lodge, providing the Maasai with benefits from tourism and an incentive for conservation. Every guest of Ol Donyo Lodge contributes to these vital initiatives just by staying.
On the private 275,000-acre Mbirikani Group Ranch in south-eastern Kenya between Tsavo East and Amboseli National Parks and next to Chyulu Hills National Park.
Ol Donyo lodge has just eight suites and is a blend of contemporary and rustic with lots of comfortable touches. The lodge is a perfect getaway for families, honeymooners or groups of friends but what makes it stand out is the variety of activities – cultural visits, wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.
No two of the lodge’s eight suites is the same but they all have a view to Mt. Kilimanjaro and the lodge’s famous waterhole as well as star beds on top of each of the suites for sleeping under the night sky. Six of the lodge’s eight suites have private plunge pools and two are connected for a ‘villa’ concept with a shared common area and plunge pool - perfect for families or couples traveling together. Constructed of local thatch and gunnite the suites blend with the environment and flashes of bright colour mix with earthy tones, wildlife photography and local crafts .
The pool suites have a lounge, veranda, indoor and outdoor showers, double washbasins, flush toilet and bath and star-bed which is accessed from the veranda via a winding stone staircase. This is a fabulous sleep-out with complete privacy and all the comfort of the suite just below.
The Sambu 2 Bedroom Villa is a bush home for families or groups of friends and has two bedrooms under one roof and one swimming pool. Each bedroom has its own spacious ensuite bathroom, indoor and outdoor shower, star bed and viewing deck.
The lodge’s main lounge has a grand stone fireplace, a small library, open bar and expansive veranda and has and connects with the dining area, infinity pool and a gift shop.
ACTIVITIES AND WILDLIFE
Populations of wildlife can be found in the area including the big 5 - rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo, as well as cheetah, fringe-eared oryx, gerenuk and giraffe. You are able to track wildlife in open game drive vehicles as well as by foot or horseback.
Game Drives (Day and Night) - the best times to be out are from first light for the morning drive and from 4-4:30pm for the afternoon drive it is cooler. Night drives give you the opportunity to discover a range of unusual and nocturnal animals and are normally after dinner at around 9:30pm.
Horse Riding - horseback game viewing is unique because a person on a horse is perceived by animals to be different to a person on foot or in a vehicle often resulting in a more intimate experience. There are horses and rides to suit all levels of experience and both English and South African saddles are available. It is compulsory to wear helmets for safety and insurance purposes. There are morning or afternoon rides available (maximum 4 hours).
Guided Walks/Hiking - another huge benefit of staying outside national parks is that you can explore on foot. The resident tracker will accompany you and your guide and will carry a firearm. Wear good walking shoes, a hat and neutral coloured clothing and take binoculars.
Biking - this is a good opportunity to exercise but also another way of viewing the landscape and wildlife in the area. We recommend cycling during the cooler hours of the day either in the early morning or late afternoon. Cycling usually takes place on the plains heading toward the kopje or el Mau.
Maasai Village and School Visits - the Maasai of the Mbirikani Group Ranch have a close partnership with the lodge and you are able to visit the Maasai villages on the ranch giving you an insight into the culture and traditions of the Maasai. There will be plenty of traditionally crafted items for sale during your visit to the village all of which are made by the women who live there. This activity is extra and funds go directly to the village.
Log-pile Hide - just below the lodge’s main area is the log-pile hide which is a secret shaded spot from which to view the many mammals that come in for a drink.
Amboseli National Park Day Trip – the lodge’s proximity to Amboseli National Park gives the opportunity for full day safaris to the park departing the lodge after breakfast with a picnic lunch and a full selection of drinks. Do book in advance and there is an extra charge.
Young Explorers Programme - designed to enhance both a child and a family’s overall safari , weaving themes of conservation and culture into each fun activity. The programme offers a full range of activities from bush survival skills including making sling shots, bows and arrows and creating fire using tradition Maasai techniques, to watercolour painting.
OL DONYO LODGE IS OPEN ALL YEAR ROUND
CHILDREN FROM AGE 5 YEARS ARE WELCOME AND FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN BETWEEN THE AGE OF 5 AND 15 WILL BE ACCOMMODATED IN THE POOL SUITES