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Ol Donyo Lodge

On a trip to Africa you’re likely going to want a healthy dose of big-ticket wildlife. Stick with me, that’s coming, just not quite yet. The thing about a trip to Kenya is that the experience goes way beyond the safari.

As I began to explain a few weeks ago, it’s about exposing yourself to something new, something unexpected, something you didn’t know you were looking for in the first place. Fitting this bill to a T is Ol Donyo Lodge in the Chyulu Hills in Southern Kenya—the first stop on my recent research trip. To fit it into your plan, take at least three nights; if you have time to spare, take even four or five to really get into a groove here. With some time to relax, all 275,000 acres of the Chyulu Hills National Park literally become your own personal playground.

There is game here, but not in the volumes you would get elsewhere in Kenya. Game is not the point of coming to a place like Ol Donyo Lodge; it’s a little more nuanced than that. I’ve been over Ride Kenya who are based here, but you can also hike and walk for days and even charge across the savannah on mountain bikes, seeing if you can out pedal the zebras and ostrich that roam the plains. You can even visit the local Masai, who are heavily involved in managing the conservancy and instrumental in its success and survival. Plus, if you can evade the two resident bloodhounds for more than the record 18 minutes; glory and eternal fame will be yours.

All that is before I’ve even mentioned the camp itself. In 2008 Great Plains Conservation took over the lodge and the management of the conservancy. After peeling the old place back to the bare bones, they’ve built—let’s be frank—one hell of a lodge. The reason I like it so much is that they give a firm nod to preserving the surrounding environment, while managing to be small and intimate. They do all this while maintaining a standard of comfort and service that puts Ol Donyo Wuas up there with the finest places to stay on the continent.

So, where does that leave us? Absolutely stunning wilderness area—check. Large, extremely comfortable rooms each with a star bed—check that too. Excellent food, service and great managers in Cyrus and Abi—check, check and check.

Follow Dan from the beginning:
Smell of Adventure: Kenya Pt. 1

Dan Achber is sharing the findings of his recent Kenyan research trip week by week on The Sounder. Next up: Laikipia. If you’d like some more info before then, contact him.

If you can evade the two resident bloodhounds for more than the record 18 minutes, glory and eternal fame will be yours.

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