Ol Donyo Lodge
OL DONYO LODGE RATES: Ol Donyo Lodge
OL DONYO LODGE -
CHYULU HILLS, KENYA
Ol Donyo Lodge is a 20-bed multi-lodge destination located on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills near Amboseli National Park. Based on the foundations of the original, legendary Ol Donyo Wuas, the recently re-built lodges all have stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro, efficient solar powered lighting, and solar heated showers in the ensuite bathrooms, and feature a décor that is both modern and luxurious, as well as rustic and comfortable in the tradition of the great wilderness lodges.
Ol Donyo Lodge lies in the foothills of the Chyulu Range on the Mbirikani Group Ranch, a 275,000-acre Maasai-owned ranch that is located between the Amboseli, Chyulu, Tsavo and Kilimanjaro National Parks. The Lodge nestles in the western foothills of the Chyulu range, overlooking Kilimanjaro with quintessential Africa in the foreground, flat top acacia trees and golden savannah.
images of Ol Donyo Lodge, click Ol Donyo Lodge
Ol Donyo has a total of 20 beds in six stand-alone lodges. Some are two-bed lodges, while others are four-bed lodges with their own private lounges and swimming pool. These four bed lodges are perfect for families or small groups of friends who prefer that extra privacy.
All bedrooms now have spacious en-suite bathrooms with superb views, a shower and bath, twin vanities, a flush loo with an additional outdoor shower for those who prefer the outdoors.
All rooms have their own rooftop sundowner / "star-beds" spot where guests enjoy dramatic views over the plains and onto Mount Kilimanjaro. More adventurous guests have the option to sleep out safely on these rooftops to enjoy a night spent under the stars. The lighting is solar powered, as is the hot water of the showers, with an emergency back-up system for overcast days.
Ol Donyo Lodge's living and dining area has been rebuilt and it has a whole new feel and character to it, without losing its home-like atmosphere. The dining room has been extended and now includes an outdoor brunch area under the acacia tree. The main pool is available for relaxing in the afternoons.
As the rooms are so comfortable and the food so delicious (not to mention the extensive wine list) one might be tempted to just laze around the lodge and the swimming pool, however, the list of activities is so exciting that you won't want to miss a minute.
Over 7,000 wild animals make their home in and around the environs of Ol Donyo Lodge and guests can search for them in vehicles, on foot, or by horseback. Not only are the "BIG FIVE" here - rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo - but also cheetah, the rare fringe-eared oryx, the shy gerenuk, and the lordly giraffe among many others share this magical landscape.
It is out on a drive or walk or ride that the exclusivity of Ol Donyo Lodge becomes apparent: you and the few other privileged guests are alone with the animals - no other tourists, no fleets of noisy mini buses are there to disturb the magic of your experiences. Night drives are a feature for those who would like to better opportunity to view the shyer nocturnal wildlife.
Activities operate where possible on an all-inclusive tariff where everything at the lodge is included. The exceptions to this are the Amboseli excursion and the Amboseli Park entry fees; horse rides (which are included) and massages. The Maasai villagers will charge individuals for having their photos taken, but the cost of getting there is included in the tariff.
Please note: There is a weight limit for Ride Kenya's horses. Riders should be no more than 95kg.
Although al fresco lunches on the verandas or candlelit dinners in the dining room are quite wonderful, they also enjoy hosting "Bush Breakfasts" and dinners, not to mention surprise sundowner cocktails or classic English tea in the magnificent and romantic setting of the vast African landscape.
East Africa is classic safari country and it would be a shame for guests to visit Kenya without experiencing a night out under canvas with traditional camp amenities, drinks under the open sky by the fire followed by our superb campfire cuisine. The campsites are chosen based on the season, so your camp may be out on the plains or up in the Chyulu hills, and you can get to your fly camp on horseback. Seduction Rock is a famous overnight spot (and we are led to believe that it always works!)
Ol Donyo Lodge and the Maasai Culture
The Maasai people are as natural a part of the Mbirikani landscape as the wild animals. A visit to a Maasai traditional village is often one of the highlights of a guest's stay and it provides a wonderful insight into Maasai culture and their way of life.
Day trips to Amboseli
Full-day excursions to Amboseli National Park. Guests depart Ol Donyo Lodge after breakfast and take a leisurely drive across the plains to the Park. We usually plan to arrive in Amboseli sometime in the mid-morning and aim to leave in the mid-afternoon. This coincides with the time when the lodges are breakfasting and is the traditional safari siesta time when the park and the vehicle density is at its lowest. This also is the time of day when the elephants and wildlife densities around the waterways and marshes are generally at their highest. If you want this activity guaranteed, please ensure that you book the excursions in advance.
In-room massages are on offer.
This is a new activity that is carried out on the plains around Ol Donyo Lodge. Guests bike across the savannahs with an armed guide and enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of these plains and their wildlife.
Horse rides with 'RIDE KENYA'
With access to over 1.4 million acres, including two national parks, Ride Kenya has one of the largest wilderness concessions in Africa today. From the vast dry lake beds of Amboseli to the east, to the majestic Chyulu Hills to the west, Ride Kenya horse safaris traverse a variety of quintessential and game rich East African landscapes. With Mount Kilimanjaro as the back drop, the rides meander amongst 38 species of large mammals, including the Big Five, making Ride Kenya horse safaris an unforgettable experience.
Guests of Ride Kenya are able to choose between luxury mobile horse safaris or staying at Ol Donyo Lodge and riding out from there each day. All of the riding with Ride Kenya is managed and guided by Patrick Stanton and Nicola Young, an enthusiastic and experienced couple who will look after your every need
Mobile Horse Safaris
Ride Kenya mobile safaris are reminiscent of the safaris of old. Rides tend to cover between 15 to 30 miles per day, during which the luxury camp is moved ahead to the next destination. The tented camps are very comfortable, with wrought iron twin or doublebeds, fine linen, en-suite bathrooms, a central dining tent and a high standard of food and drinks. All of themobile safaris are supported by a crew of grooms, chefs, waiters and general helpers to ensure maximum comfort for the guests.
Guests enjoy riding through a great variety of truly wild, unfenced ecosystems. The terrain is volcanic, so the going is mostly soft and sandy, with some areas of rocky lava flow. You will enjoy riding through a great variety of ecosystems; from the vast savannah plains, to thick acacia forests, and the Chyulu Hills themselves which run for about 40 miles. Ride Kenya has a selection of 20 very well-schooled horses, which are used to the wildlife and terrain.
In order to join the horse safaris, guests should be comfortable at a canter at least. We do have plenty of chance to gallop and jump also, but this is not compulsory. We usually spend 4-6 hours per day in the saddle, and then also offer guests the chance to enjoy game drives, bush walks and night game drives.
Ol Donyo Lodge Riding
Any guest staying at Ol Donyo Lodge is welcome to enjoy horseback riding. They will accept any standard of rider, from a novice child to an advanced adult. They offer horseback riding everyday for Ol Donyo Lodge guests. This can be enjoyed either early in the morning or at sunset.
Most of the lodge rides last for about two hours, but they are able to cater to each guest’s needs. Full-day rides are also available for experienced riders. Many of Ride Kenya’s mobile safari guests enjoy a night or two in the lodge before or after their safari, and this is an excellent add-on to the safari itineraries.
Please note: There is a weight limit for Ride Kenya’s horses. Novice riders (Ol Donyo Lodge only) should be no more than 85kg whilst advanced riders should be no more than 95kg.
History, Conservation and Eco-Tourism
Ol Donyo Lodge and the Maasai people of the Mbirikani Group Ranch are partners in plotting our communal destiny. The Maasailand Preservation Trust is the lodge's link with the people of the area and the Trust maintains a series of important projects including predator conservation, education, water management, re-forestation, and livestock management training. When you visit Ol Donyo Lodge, you are not just a tourist, but a participant and contributor to the survival of the region's fauna and flora and the advancement of a noble people.
For over 20 years Ol Donyo Lodge was the Africa cognoscenti’s dream destination. Tucked away in the spectacular Chyulu Hills, above the heat and malaria, and far away from the tourist circuit, Ol Donyo Lodge was a model for many of the ‘bush lodges’ that were to follow.
Ol Donyo Lodge's founder Richard Bonham had often flown over this spectacular landscape and one day decided to land his Cessna on the open plains and arrange to meet the local Maasai. After many meetings, a pioneering community conservation safari-tourism project was created with the Maasai participating and benefiting from the travellers that Richard Bonham brought to their remote homeland.
John Heminway, one of the most experienced and astute writers about Africa wrote recently in Travel and Leisure magazine: "Richard Bonham could well be the father of the bush guest house. He built Ol Donyo Wuas (the previous name) many years ago and it still sets the standard.” Over the years, Richard and his sister Trish, created one of the most beloved of all East Africa’s bush lodges, and in the process, played an important leadership role in the region.
In the early years Richard and his guests would be excited if they even saw tracks of an elephant passing through. Today there are elephants in front of the lodge almost every day - including six bulls who carry some of the largest ivory left in East Africa. Lion and cheetah were always present in small shy numbers, but under the new conservation program, their numbers are on the increase. Where once the black rhino had been shot to the brink of extinction, the last of the rhino are now protected and today, breeding populations of this highly endangered creature are secure on Ol Donyo.
Though progress was being made, more investment and an expanded and updated program was needed. Together with Richard, Tara and Great Plains, a new initiative is under way which promises to benefit both people and wildlife in ways not possible a few years ago. However the future holds enormous challenges and we recognise that we must adapt and evolve. Without deviating from our roots and core beliefs we have to forge new partnerships with our neighbouring Maasai community.
By building a sustainable model for conservation and quality tourism, we will ensure upliftment within our neighbouring communities and protection of the wildlife of the area.
The Maasailand Preservation Trust
Ol Donya Lodge formed the Maasailand Preservation Trust in 1992. The Trust’s prime task is to deliver a significant and effective outreach programme to our local Maasai community
The Trust is chaired and run by Richard Bonham who ensures that there is effective delivery within these communities. The Trust is one of the longest serving and most successful trusts in East Africa and delivers significant benefits to the local communities so that their lives are enriched and that the linkage between community upliftment and a prospering wildlife population is maintained.
Part of the reason why this community has dedicated 70,000 acres of their land as a core conservation area is because of past Trust successes and because Ol Donyo Lodge have formed a new company that has 4,500 Maasai shareholders. Every Maasai household on the group ranch is paid out twice a year by the Trust.
Predators and lions in particular are regularly killed throughout the whole of southern Kenya, yet at Ol Donyo Lodge the predator numbers are increasing because of the good work of the lodge and the Trust. The Maasai neighbors are included in community outreach programs that pay compensation for cattle and stock losses due to predators.
School upliftment, a fixed based health centre and mobile clinics are some of the other projects that the Trust oversees.
Amboseli/Tsavo Game Scout Association
Scouts are involved, primarily, with the prevention of poaching in the area, working in tandem with our bloodhounds. The scouts help protect small-scale farmers from crop raiding wildlife. The human/wildlife conflict has become a primary issue in Kenya. This project is a success when combined with the overall impact of the Trust and the area free of poachers increases year after year
Chyulu Rhino Project
The Maasailand Preservation Trust and KWS rangers, together with other organizations, is responsible for enhancing security and monitoring the endangered Chyulu rhino for their protection, probably the last remaining population of wild black rhino in Kenya today
There is a tree nursery in Mbiriakani Village concentrating on the replanting of indigenous trees in the area.
As a priority, the Trust has already constructed six classrooms all with teaching aids. There are plans to start an environmental education program dealing with land degradation and problems associated with pastoralism marginal areas.
Mbirikani Group Ranch Mobile Clinic and Health Centre
Established by the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Foundation to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases and to help uplift the general health of the community. This is funded by a private United States foundation and is based in Mbirikani village but also visits communities living further afield.
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