Located in southeast Kenya, in the Chyulu Hills, between Amboseli and Tsavo West, and home to the now famous East African safari-hand Richard Bonham, Ol Donyo Lodge has for years been the favoured destination for a loyal, well-heeled and well-travelled clientele, and has garnered a reputation for providing a service that is luxurious, responsible and extraordinarily creative.
Initially set up by Richard and representatives of the local community, Ol Donyo Lodge is situated on the Maasai owned Mbirikani Group Ranch, whose 275 000 odd acres now constitute a huge wild area in which, thanks to various conservation initiatives, both fauna and flora are flourishing.
A stone, wood and thatch build, the main lodge overlooks a waterhole, and consists of a beautifully designed living and dining area. With an emphasis placed on creating a space that is both intimate and large, huge iron chandeliers and an enormous fireplace combine with a design that favours winding spaces over straight lines, the arch over the rectangle, a range of artefacts and furniture over a single style – producing an effect that is welcoming and, at the same time, awe inspiring. Below, but still elevated enough to act as a wildlife viewing platform in its own right, is the pool, complete with lounge and dining area.
food and service
The food – salads, soups, meats – is healthy and innovative, while the service is equally as fine.
With room for 20 guests, the sleeping accommodation is housed in 7 discreetly placed stone and thatch villas, which break down into 10 guest suites. Each villa of Ol Donyo Lodge is named, has its own architectural characteristics, and offers, by way of space, a slightly different living arrangement. While some are more suited to couples, and one, the Hide, is just a one bedroom facility, others are large enough to accommodate families, groups or couples travelling in tangent.
However, there are similarities. Each is built to the highest of standards, is designed with an eye for both luxury and function. The bathrooms, for example, all contain standalone baths – which, in some cases, come with their own attached basins – and most have star bed decking, private pools and outdoor showers. Wi-Fi is available across the lodge.
Attached – and a base for its stables – to Ride Kenya, Ol Donyo Lodge is well known for its riding (for more information see our Ride Kenya, Kenya accommodation). Other activities include wildlife drives, hide views, bush picnics, guided walks, massage, mountain biking and trips to Amboseli.
Great Plains Conservation make sure that their camps are run in the most sustainable way possible as explained further:
“We believe that responsible tourism has the capacity to protect natural wildlife habitats, support community development and alleviate poverty. It is the only responsible way into the future of Africa.
Our aim is to create best practice, world-class conservancy with long terms commitment to the environment, wildlife and the local communities.
We also have an initiative to contribute to halting the alarming decline in Big Cats around the world: For each guest’s four night stay at one of Great Plains Conservation’s Botswana (Zarafa, Selinda or Duba Plains) and Kenya (ol Donyo or Mara Plains) camps, we will donate $25 per person per night to the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative.”