Rating: Deluxe Price from: £385 - £730 pp full board
Ol Donyo Lodge is a family owned lodge located on a communally owned Maasai Group Ranch, called the Mbirikani Group Ranch on the slopes of the magnificent Chyulu Hills. This 275,000 acre reserve has the quintessential African landscape of savannah grasslands and acacia forests complete with a Big 5 game experience and the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro as the ever-present backdrop. The majority of lodge staff hail from the local community and this same community is actively engaged in preserving their wildlife heritage through education, awareness and an innovative Predator Compensation Fund.
The lodge was totally rebuilt in 2008 and only local materials were used. No two suites are the same. The lodge sleeps a maximum of 20 guests in 10 suites, all with an en-suite bedroom and veranda with views of the waterhole and Mt Kilimanjaro. Most have their own private plunge pools and others have extended lounge areas. All have a roof top seating area which can be converted to a 'star bed' so you can sleep out under the stars, a memorable experience. There is one family villa with two bedrooms and a shared lounge and bathroom.
Communal areas include a number of lounges, bar, libray indoor and outdoor dining areas, and a rim-flow pool where you can relax and enjoy views of Kilimanjaro and the plains.
Wildlife is plentiful and includes a variety of plains game, plus elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, and while here you can take day and night game drives, observe wildlife from the hide by the waterhole and go on guided walks. Other activities include horse-riding for all standards of riders, mountain biking and visits to the local Maasai communities and projects. It's possible to join the guides on foot for a spot of tracking and see how they track for both wildlife and poachers, an exhilirating experience.
Open: Ol Donyo Lodge is open all year.
Location: The lodge is on the private Mibirikani Group Ranch in southeast Kenya within sight of Mount Kilimanjaro. It adjoins Chyulu Hills National Park and is between Tsavo East and Amboseli National Parks. There is a private airfield at Ol Donyo, about a half hour drive from the lodge. The flight from Nairobi takes about an hour.
Rooms: Ol Donyo Lodge has a maximum capacity of 20 guests in 10 suites. All have private roof terraces with views of the waterhole, plains and Kilimanjaro. Each terrace can accommodate star beds for sleep outs. There are 2 standard suites without a pool and 6 suites with their own plunge pool. There are 2 connecting suites, each with an en-suite bedroom, and with a shared lounge and pool, making good family or group accommodation. Every bathroom has a shower, deep bathtub, twin hand basins, a flush toilet, range of toiletries and an outdoor shower. Hairdryers are provided. All have ceiling fans and 4 suites have fireplaces. There are mosquito nets in the bedrooms and for the star beds. All suites have power points for British large 3-pin plugs, and a safe.
Activities: There are early morning and late afternoon game drives, night drives and guided nature walks. You can go horse riding (for all levels of experience), hiking and mountain biking. There’s a hide by the waterhole where you can watch wildlife. You can join conservation and tracking programmes. Cultural trips to Maasai communities can be arranged. The lodge can arrange fly camping in the Chyulu Hills. Game drive vehicles are equipped with binoculars for guest use. Private game viewing can be arranged on request subject to availability.
Facilities: The lodge has a restaurant, main lounge with an open fire plus several other several other sitting areas, a library, bar, tea and coffee station, gift shop, office with a computer, deck and an infinity pool. In-room massages can be arranged, and each suite has a yoga mat. The lodge offers a free laundry service.
Dining: 3 meals a day are provided and dining times can fit around activities. Bush breakfasts and lunches can be organized. Group and individual dining are available.
Children: Children aged 5 years and over are welcome. Families with children between the ages of 5 and 15 are accommodated in the pool suites on a triple share basis. Families with children between 5 and 15 must book private game drives. Children under the age of 5 may be considered if the lodge is booked for exclusive use. Young children must be kept under supervision at all times. There are minimum age limits for certain activities including guided walking and horse riding. The lodge operates a kid’s programme for youngsters.
Health: This is a malaria area.
Communication: Wi-Fi internet access is available but sporadic. There is a relatively good mobile signal.
Notes: Ol Donyo Lodge is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group.
Ticking all the boxes of a well-run eco-friendly lodge, plus backing the local Maasai community through a trust fund, this lodge holds up to tough scrutiny.