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Kenya Safari

The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

Kijabe Group Ranch, Laikipia District, Kenya

The striking beauty of Ol Lentille Conservancy
Return to Map of Central Kenya                     Image © The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

View images of The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille:  The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille Images


The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille is a leading edge conservation tourism partnership between a Maasai community, donors, and private investors John & Gill Elias, who are resident at the Ranch. With the sacrifice of a full one-third of their grazing area for conservation, the community has been able to enter the tourism business. The business finances the conservancy and provides an income to the community to improve lives and livelihoods. The result is 6,500 acres of stunning hills and valleys populated with exceptional flora and fauna. The conservation area has just been extended by an additional 8,000 acres from surrounding group ranches.

Perched on the flanks of a wooded rock kopje, in the heart of this private conservation area, is The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille - a collection of four private, full-service, fully staffed Houses for the discerning few.

The Sanctuary is situated at the community-owned Kijabe Group Ranch, on the far northern escarpment of the Laikipia Plateau, with enormous views to the craggy peak of Mt Kenya, the Samburu sacred mountain Ol Olokwe, the Matthews Range and the Karisia Hills.

This private conservation area, known as The Ol Lentille Conservancy, is 14,500 acres of grassy hills and deep valleys, heavily wooded with many acacia species and African olives. Its sandy laghas are bordered by great stands of fig and fever trees. It is named for Ol Lentille, a 1977m hill, from the top of which (an easy scramble) an astonishing panorama unfolds. The Conservancy is home to the endangered African wild dog, greater kudu, leopard, striped and spotted hyena, and klipspringer.

The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille is open all year.

Accommodation            For images of The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, click The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille Images
The Sanctuary comprises four extremely luxurious, fully-staffed, full-service houses.  The houses are available either individually or via exclusive use of the whole property. Each architect-designed House echoes a Voice of Africa and is located to ensure your privacy. All the Houses have an abundant mixture of unique courtyards, decks, gardens, and lawns. Some have plunge pools.

Bedrooms (each with its own bathroom) in all the Houses (except The Eyrie) can be equipped with either a double bed or with twin beds.

The Chief’s House - African contemporary style, 3 bedrooms, sleeps 6.
A reflection of contemporary Africa, combining a sumptuously cool, modern interior with the best of African art, fabrics and artifacts. It has three double bedrooms, a sitting room, dining room, and kitchen. The sitting room has a charming open fire, as well as a plunge-pool on the outdoor deck. Each bedroom has a dressing room and bathroom. The master bedroom has a large outdoor bath set in the rocks for candlelight bathing under the stars.

The Sultan’s House - Swahili style, 1 or 2 bedrooms, sleeps 2-4.
This stone-built house is designed in "Lamu" style under a huge roof thatched with twisted papyrus. It has fine plaster carving and lavish furnishings, including a four-poster bed. The House has one enormous double bedroom, a huge sitting/dining room and a kitchen. The space of this House is such that it can be converted to a two bedroom house if you prefer.

The Colonel’s House - Campaign style, 2 bedrooms, sleeps 4.
In "Campaign" style, this house seems truly to be the bush home of a well-traveled military man. With brass-bound furniture, oriental carpets, and a beautiful "Knole" sofa in front of an open fire, you can feel a connection with a bygone era of comfort and style. The House has two double bedrooms, sitting and dining rooms, and a kitchen. Each bedroom has a dressing room and a sunken bath. The courtyard has a plunge-pool.

The Eyrie - African Retro style, 1 bedroom, sleeps 2.
This special house is perched at the top of a kopje in "African Retro" style. The Eyrie has one bedroom, a sitting room and a dining room with open fire and kitchen. It is seductively furnished. The circular bedroom has a gigantic round bed and it is but a few steps to your own secluded outdoor double rock bath with views over the rugged hills to the deserts of the north.

Low wattage hair dryers can be used and are available on request. Guests are not permitted to use their own.

The property boasts a Library, Spa and Pool, and enjoys wireless access to the internet via satellite broadband.
Spa included – Massage, aroma therapy, reflexology, and beauty treatments.
Solar Power – 24 hours.
There are credit card facilities.
Mobile phone network – available in most lodge locations.
Laundry services included.

The Library
A rotunda with a soaring stained glass dome, this is the "club" room, where you may read, write, relax, or chat with fellow guests and hosts. Atop the Library is the viewing deck, which has an open fire, a bar and a GPS-controlled telescope to bring the heavens even closer.

The Pool
A great place to chill - lounging "pods" filled with creamy cushions, and a dining and sundowner deck under sails.

Meal Plan
Full board accommodation including exceptional food and wines. Champagne, rare wines, and cigars charged extra.

The Staff
The staff are always available and nothing is too much trouble for them. They will give you as much, or as little, help with all your needs as you desire. If you want your Butler to fix your drink, he will. But you should feel completely free to do it yourself if you like.

Your Butler is the senior member of your house staff and is also responsible for providing your meals and drinks, wherever you may be: in your house, at the pool, in the library or on safari.

Your Valet makes sure your house is well-cleaned and tidy, and is also responsible for your luggage, laundry, ironing, shoe cleaning. If you would like your Valet to pack and unpack for you, just ask.

Your Askari is responsible for your safety and security at night. He is trained in first aid and fire fighting. You may also see him in the dusk and dawn hours tending to your gardens. If you are walking at night he is available to escort you from place to place if you would like him to (recommended).

Your Guide, a local Maasai, is a qualified member of the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association and is a fund of knowledge about the ecology, flora and fauna, people and culture of this area. He will drive your safari vehicle for you and accompany you on many of the activities you may choose here.

For parents with young children they can also provide an Ayah (or Nanny).

The Directors of Ol Lentille, John & Gill Elias, are resident nearby and gladly accept invitations to join you at your house.

Activities & Wildlife
Included Activities
• Doing nothing in inspiring surroundings
• Conservation and community work
• Horse riding and camel trekking
• Mountain and quad biking
• Game drives and walking – day and night
• Bush breakfast, lunch, dinner & picnics
• Boules and croquet
• Range of massage techniques, aroma therapy, manicure, pedicure

Optional Extras
• Bush Skills course
• Kayaking and river rafting
• Light aircraft and helicopter trips
• Trips to other parks and reserves
• Trout fishing on Mt. Kenya
• Visits to Craft Village

The Craft Village
The manyatta (village) has been built by the women of the community totally from local traditional materials. It is open to guests to take part in and learn about the Maasai culture. The songs and dance of the women and the warrior group add colorful and energetic entertainment. Guests will learn about the uses of local medicinal herbs, traditional cooking and food, including the Maasai practice of taking blood from a cow, child care practices, house building techniques, animal husbandry, fire lighting, musical instrument and weapons making, games such as mbao, the complex gambling systems of the wazee (elders), and beadwork. Guests will have an opportunity to support the women further through purchase of beads and other artifacts.

Conservation and Eco-Tourism
The 14,50- acre Ol Lentille Conservancy is home to the endangered African wild dog, greater kudu, leopard, both the striped and the spotted hyena, and klipspringer, as well as more common species.

The community-owned Kijabe Group Ranch has set aside a full one third of its grazing and settlement land for conservation. Ol Lentille have been successful in excluding livestock in this area and increasingly successful in attracting and securing growing numbers of important wildlife species. Recently, the neighboring Nkiloriti Group Ranch added a further 600 hectares/1,500 acres to the conservation area.

The Ranches have also now set limits on the numbers of livestock to be carried on the remainder of their land. This is already having beneficial effects on grazing quality and sustainability, tree preservation and erosion.

Importantly, the Ol Lentille Conservancy is at the heart of the greater Naibunga Conservancy which joins together the conservation areas of seven other Group Ranches in a 17,000 hectare/43,000 acre tract of northern Laikipia. Ol Lentille supports these ranches to help them secure and improve their conservancies.

The Kijabe Community
Ol Lentille's hosts here are the Laikipiak Maasai of Kijabe Group Ranch. In Kenya, a Group Ranch is owned in common by its members. There are some 250 members of this Ranch, of whom about one third are resident here. The Ranch population is about 800 people with about 2000 Kijabe people living elsewhere in Kenya. Approximately 100 Kijabe residents have been employed in the construction of the Sanctuary. Ol Lentille's neighbors are other Maasai ranchers, and to the north are other Samburu tribesmen.

The people of Kijabe still overwhelmingly pursue their age-old pastoralist way of life. They are cattle-herders, and keepers of goats and sheep. Increasingly they are able to combine their semi-nomadic existence to find dry-season grazing, with the technology of the twenty-first century, using mobile phones to buy and sell livestock at better market prices. Nevertheless, the colorful spectacle of the weekly livestock markets is still vibrantly alive.

The women of the Ranch are developing small craft businesses and Regenesis is helping them with accessing training and in selling their products in international markets, adding much needed cash to the family income. They have also opened a Maasai Craft Village or "manyatta". The manyatta will serve to preserve traditions, and to educate both the new generation and those guests who may be interested in a visit. You will be warmly welcomed.

The Conservancy
The Ol Lentille Conservancy, while small in relative terms at 14,500 acres, is a vital keystone in the protection of the Laikipia and greater Ewaso Nyiro ecosystems. Covering an area of 30,000 square kilometers, Laikipia is the second largest wildlife ecosystem in Kenya after Tsavo. Laikipia is the richest ecosystem in Kenya in terms of endangered species and is the richest ecosystem in Kenya in terms of wildlife diversity. Laikipia is second only to the Masai Mara in terms of wildlife density and is the only district in Kenya where overall wildlife numbers are increasing.

For five years, with the support and encouragement of The African Wildlife Foundation, the Kijabe community has excluded its own livestock from the area. More recently, with support from Regenesis and The Kijabe Trust, it has been increasingly successful in excluding livestock arriving from neighboring areas, and in attracting and holding an increasing population of wildlife including a significant number of endangered species. Vegetation has recovered from the over-grazing of the past and damaging erosion halted.

Now, seeing community conservation in action, neighboring communities are developing their own conservation plans. To the west, Tiemamut Group Ranch has appointed volunteer Rangers, asked us to train them, and added its 3,500-acre conservation area to the Ol Lentille Conservancy. To the east, they have started working on a management plan with Morupusi Group Ranch, to help them secure their designated but unprotected 15,000 acre conservation area. And, excitingly, to the north, they have now agreed with the neighboring Samburu community to manage a further 4,500 acres for and with them.

These new projects, while enormously exciting and encouraging, are not without risk. The core ingredients for successful community conservation are an iron-clad community will, and the capacity to secure conservation areas from livestock incursion. The will comes from sustained leadership and conservation education. Security means the employment of Rangers, their training, and a communications infrastructure. So, conservation is not free, but over the long haul it can be made to pay.

Other Considerations
The risk of malaria at this altitude is very low, but the area is not considered malaria-free.

The area enjoys well over 300 sunny days per year and the Sanctuary is situated at an altitude of over 1800 meters/6000 feet. Daytime temperatures are typically 25 Celsius/77 Fahrenheit and at night 15 Celsius/59 Fahrenheit. There is little seasonal variation. Short rains in October/November and long rains in April/May bring out a mass of wildflowers and can bring misty conditions.

Scheduled flights available from Nairobi to Nanyuki with Air Kenya and Safarilink. Private air charters from Nanyuki (less than 30 minutes) or Nairobi to Ol Lentille's private airstrip (1200m) or helipad are available on Tropic Air or Boskovic Air Charters.
Driving times: Nairobi to Nanyuki 3 hours; Nanyuki to Ol Lentille 1.5 hours (4wd only).

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