On the slopes below Chyulu hills national park, Ol Donyo is a luxury safari lodge distinguished by its superb hosts and the sheer variety of ways you can experience this breath-taking wildlife area.
Ol Donyo was rebuilt in 2008 and can accommodate a maximum of 20 guests. Each room has a vast (6’3”) netted bed with views over the open savannahs, spacious bathrooms with bath, shower and open views, outdoor showers and a roof-terrace with a four-poster bed for sleeping out under the stars. Rooms have in- and outdoor sitting areas from which you can watch the activity at the waterholes below camp and eight of the rooms have a private infinity-flow pool. Six rooms can interconnect for families and Sambu is a two-bedroom house with two bathrooms and roof terraces, generous lounge areas and ample sunloungers.
Morning, evening and night drives are offered in open-sided Land Cruisers. Ol Donyo has five, so game drives can usually be tailored to guests’ requirements. You can also walk in the bush or climb one of the twin hills with your guide and Kani, a hunter turned tracker, who is armed. You can do your game-viewing on horseback, which is wonderful – horses barely attract the notice of the wildlife – and there are horses for both experienced riders and the most timid novice; or on a mountain bike, also with an armed guide. Sundowners on the kopje should not be missed.
Other activities include tracking with the lodge’s anti-poacher bloodhounds, a day trip to Amboseli or into the mist forest, visiting a Maasai village and clay pigeon shooting.
Ol Donyo is renowned for its pioneering predator compensation scheme and the lion, cheetah and leopard populations are now stable. If you would like to participate in lion conservation, the lodge can arrange a talk from a member of the lion conservation team and for you to track collared lions. The lions tend to spend the day in the thick bush at the lava flows, but are often sighted at night. I watched African wild cat, a caracal, genet and zorilla, among others, on a night drive.
The main pool and sundeck are an excellent vantage point for watching the game at the waterholes, as is the large, open lounge. In the evening, people meet at the bar, swop stories and plan the next day’s activities. The shop stocks field guides and a range of gift items and clothes. Internet access is available, and Beatrice’s back massage is sublime.
Breakfast is fresh fruit and juices, cereals, eggs, bacon and sausages. Lunch at the lodge is often served by the pool and comprises a starter followed by a buffet of meat, pasta and salad and then dessert. If you are out for the day, you take a picnic lunch. Depending on individual preferences, people may eat together in the evening or at separate tables. Meals are tasty and varied, and the house red is good.