Ol Kanjau Tented Safari Camp
Greater Amboseli Region, Kenya
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OL KANJAU -
GREATER AMBOSELI REGION, KENYA
Ol Kanjau Tented Safari Camp is situated at the edge of Africa’s largest slope, Mt Kilimanjaro. The camp is situated adjacent to Amboseli
National park and is surrounded by a larger area of true African bush land wilderness owned by Kisongo
Maasai pastoralists, who benefit directly when one visits this unrivalled wild open space.
Ol Kanjau is a traditional safari style, mobile tented camp, kept as simple as possible so you can still listen
to the quiet, smell air clean enough to eat and try to count a million stars. Mike & Judy Rainy, the hosts at Ol Kanjau,
have worked as ecologists in Kenya since 1968 and they are still active in large-scale ecosystem research
to see how Amboseli wildlife interacts with Maasai people and their livestock.
The pace at Ol Kanjau is unhurried, but directed at providing guests with direct access to traditional and natural Africa, well away from most things modern, including masses of other tourists.
The light structure of this traditional tented safari camp maintains the most direct contact with the natural world possible. It reminds us that the natural world is too often diminished by the permanent structures that people now build everywhere. Too often, permanent boutique lodges and camps seem grand and in inverse proportion to the amount and quality of wildlife that remains nearby.
In Maasai, Ol Kanjau means Elephants. The greater Amboseli region is home to a
growing population of elephants and the Rainys will introduce you to several of the 52 known matriarchal
images of Ol Kanjau, click Ol Kanjau
Ol Kanjau Tented Safari Camp offers six spacious tents, with large, comfortable beds. The tents include safari-style bathrooms with bucket showers and hot water.
Gas lanterns light your tent at night.
Laundry services provided
No credit card facilities
Intermittent mobile phone network
Full board accommodation, including soft drinks, beer and house wine.
The following are some of the activities available:
• Shared game drives in the company of knowledgeable guides
• Game walks with an expert field scout
• Mountain biking in bush land wilderness
• Spectacular bird watching
• Cultural visits to a Maasai village
• Picnic bush breakfasts and bush dinners
A Typical Day at Ol Kanjau Camp
Dawn on most mornings is incredibly dramatic, as the first rays of light sculpt the twin peaks Mawenzi and Kibo that together form Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro. Taking early morning tea or coffee beneath the twisted branches of an Acacia tortilis tree on the verandah of your safari tent gives you a view of the mountain that is exclusively yours, shared only by browsing giraffe, galloping zebra and the last calls of hyena about to retire for the day. Many guests amend whatever plans were made the night before just to savor this peaceful mountain time.
The dry, volcanic dust at the base of Kilimanjaro records animal tracks and hence behavior more sharply than new fallen snow and it is always a delight to walk slowly toward the mountain and concentrate on the archive written in the dust. For the more energetic, a pre-breakfast run on the wooded plains towards Kili with the young Maasai that tend the camp can be an unforgettable way to loosen up after the confines of a long-haul flight. Whatever the early morning activity, a late open air breakfast is a pleasant precursor to a day's exploration of greater Amboseli.
By the time the first elephant herds are encountered, as they walk from their nocturnal feeding areas to the central swamps of Amboseli, we usually have their massive power and social intellect all to ourselves. Our main aim at Ol Kanjau is to put together a day that includes many unforgettable elephant moments. Having been habituated by scientists who have watched them for nearly thirty years, the elephants of Amboseli are amenable to close observation without distress or fear. We know of nowhere else in Africa where elephant watching is more rewarding.
By mid-day, we will have filled ourselves with wildlife and visited Maasai cattle herds being watered by hand from shallow wells on the margin of dry lake Amboseli and talked to their warrior herders. A drive across the lake with its shimmering mirages takes us to a private picnic lunch site in a grove of yellow fever trees on the Kenya/Tanzania border.
The southern woodlands just outside the park are the habitat of browsing animals seldom seen on the open plains of the Amboseli Basin and we will expect close observations of the long necked gerenuk and herds of eland. Giraffe are abundant and it's always a joy to discover a nursery group of their infants who are programmed to wait as a group away from their mothers until nursing time. The only thing certain about a whole day out in Amboseli is that it will be filled with unparalleled access to wildlife.
A mid-afternoon return to camp allows plenty of time to rinse the dust off and relax before enjoying a sundowner around the Ol Kanjau campfire. The fading of sunlight in transition to starlight around the warmth and conversation at the fire has an uncanny capacity for providing perspective and is the essence of the safari experience.
Greater Amboseli Region
The Greater Amboseli Ecosystem is large scale Africa. Often referred to as the Kilimanjaro Heartland by conservationists, the Greater Amboseli Region is a critical bridge ecosystem that links the vast Tsavo National Parks in the East to the Great Rift Valley and the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystems in the West.
Like Chimpanzees and Gorillas, African elephants use extraordinary mammalian intellect and social skill to survive in a natural world challenged to the breaking point by modern human driven growth. Their bodies seem so unlike our own, but by watching their natural behavior, elephants can be the most compelling mentors that we can have to teach us the values of our own deeply mammalian roots and nature.
At Ol Kanjau, elephants are the main focus and the biggest part of a community of wild species that share the whole ecosystem with Maasai pastoralists and their livestock. But the focus is not only on elephants; they have identified over 274 African bird species and watched more than 50 African mammal species in the vicinity of Ol Kanjau.
The pastoral Ilkisongo Maasai give greater Amboseli its distinct cultural richness. The Maasai people are the principal landowners of greater Amboseli and are the traditional custodians of the area's wildlife wealth, which they refer to as "our cattle outside our bomas."
Ol Kanjau Tented Camp is leased from the Maasai people, who are also the nearest neighbors and who make up most of the Ol Kanjau Tented Safari Camp safari crew and staff.
In the Maasai hospitality tradition, all guests are called "lomong" or "news". Guests are thus the gift of new information and the Maasai welcome is as dependable as it is traditional and genuine.
Mike Rainy was taught to speak Maa by members of a Samburu family who made him an adopted member in the 1960's. He finds the Maasai language a lasting source of inspiration. It is a guiding principle of his ecotourism philosophy that Ol Kanjau help to balance and support the needs and conservation of wildlife and natural flora with those of the Maasai people and their livestock. The sustained and successful conservation of Greater Amboseli requires that Maasai people benefit as much from ecotourism as they do from their livestock.
Ol Kanjau Safari Camp is closed for the months of April, May and November.
By daily scheduled flights to Amboseli.
By private charter directly to Kilimanjaro Buffalo Airstrip.
By road, a five-hour drive from Nairobi.
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