ol Donyo Lodge

ol Donyo Lodge is located on the Maasai-owned Mbirikani Group Ranch, comprising of 275,000 acres of wilderness between Amboseli  and Tsavo National Parks and bordering Chyulu Hills National Park. This stunningly beautiful area is incredibly diverse, and often has spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro. No other lodge in Africa offers such a wide range of experiences, in such a private setting. As one of Kenya’s only two Relais & Chateaux properties (other being sister property Mara Plains Camp), the lodge is perched on a hillside with views of East Africa’s classic savannahs below.

The suites offer a harmonious blend of contemporary and rustic accommodation, merging the landscape into each suite. Designed for a wide appeal, the lodge is a perfect getaway for families, honeymooners or multi-generational groups. What makes it a standout is its notable variety of activities – from cultural visits, good quality wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking – ol Donyo Lodge is a place to feel Africa, and get out from behind the wheel. Add to this the lodge’s creature comforts of fine dining, massage, infinity pool, star beds and multiple lounges, and it is a place to relax and unwind for days.

Wildlife is here, but this semi-arid region does not host the volumes of the Masai Mara area, so the lodge is best paired with our sister properties there, Mara Plains and Mara Expedition Camps. Together, this combination gives guests the most well-rounded and complementary Kenya itinerary.

The lodge’s main lounge, complete with grand stone fireplace, a small library, inviting open bar and expansive verandah are the place to rendezvous with new friends, and the local staff. The attached dining area as well as the nearby pool lounge/dining is where sumptuous meals are served, and good times abound. The main infinity pool, curio shop and office provide other diversions should exploring the area not be enough. 

Most of the lodge staff is from the local Maasai community and keen to share their fascinating culture with guests – it is a treasured chance to learn. Furthermore, the Mbirikani Group Ranch and ol Donyo Lodge are one of the first examples of a community tourism partnership, whereby land is leased from the Maasai by the lodge, providing the Maasai with benefits from tourism and an incentive for conservation. The lodge, and its conservation partner Big Life Foundation, led by Richard Bonham, continues to push the boundaries in innovative community conservation schemes. Every guest of ol Donyo Lodge contributes to these vital initiatives.

Pool Suites (6)
No two of the lodge’s suites is exactly the same, but what is consistent is the view to Mt. Kilimanjaro and the lodge’s famous waterhole as well as star beds atop each of the suites for sleeping under the stars. The décor is luxurious and opulent, while still retaining the atmosphere and sense of place that is an essential ingredient of an outstanding bush lodge. Art from around Africa coupled with the photography of Carol Beckwith, Angela Fisher and of course Beverly Joubert, create a commanding space under the high thatch roofs. The design is contemporary and yet traditional.

All suites have a lounge, verandah, indoor and outdoor showers, double washbasins, flush toilet and bath, and “star-bed”. The rooftop “star-bed” is accessed from the verandah via a winding stone staircase. This is a fabulous sleep-out option, with utter privacy and all the amenities of the suite just below.

Sambu 2-Bedroom Villa (1)
One of the villas, Sambu, functions more as a bush home intended for families or groups of friends. This villa is purpose built and designed for a couple who want space and seclusion or for parents who require their children under the same roof, but with adequate space and privacy. It has two bedrooms under one roof and one swimming pool. Each bedroom has its own spacious en-suite bathroom, complete with an indoor and outdoor shower, "star bed" and sundowner viewing deck.

Game Drives (Day and Night)
Strong populations of wildlife find their habitat in and around the ol Donyo Lodge environs. While the "Big Five" are here - rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo - they are often elusive; however, cheetah, fringe-eared oryx, gerenuk, and giraffe make for frequent viewing. Guests are able to track wildlife by open game drive vehicles, as well as by foot, or horseback (described below). The best times to be out are from first light for the morning drive, and from 4-4:30pm for the afternoon drives. These are the times when most of the action is likely to happen. Night drives give you the opportunity to discover a range of unusual and nocturnal animals and view the breathtaking African stars. These drives commence after dinner service at approximately 9:30pm. Please remember that the vehicles are open and it can be quite chilly in the early mornings and evenings, so take very warm clothing with you on your drives. There are also shukha (blankets) and lined ponchos provided in the vehicles if you get cold while out.

Horse Riding
Horseback game viewing is unique because a person on a horse is perceived by animals to be different to a person on foot or in a vehicle, often resulting in a more intimate experience. There are horses and rides to suit all levels of experience and both English and South African saddles are available. It is compulsory to wear helmets for safety and insurance purposes. Every rider wanting to do a ride above novice level will need to take an arena test simply to see if they are suited more to intermediate or advanced riding. We do encourage everyone to give riding a try – even complete beginners – because it is quite a memorable and unique way to see wildlife and the landscape. There are morning or afternoon rides available (maximum 4 hours).

Guided Walks/Hiking
Another huge benefit of staying outside national parks is that here we are allowed to appreciate the stunning landscape around us on foot, peacefully without the noise of engines. The Chyulu Hills were designed for walking and hiking. We highly recommend this unforgettable experience. Our resident tracker will accompany you and your guide and will carry a firearm. Your guide and the lodge managers will be able to suggest different walks depending on fitness and your interests, such as birding, spelunking, or exploring the plains. Each is a voyage of discovery unveiling secrets of the bush, wildlife movements, medicinal plants and uniquely adapted flora and fauna. Wear good walking shoes, a hat and camouflage coloured clothing so as not to alarm the wildlife, and take binoculars. Your guide will have water for you.

Biking
This is a good opportunity to exercise but also another way of viewing the landscape and wildlife in the area. We recommend cycling during the cooler hours of the day, either in the early morning or late afternoon. Cycling usually takes place on the plains heading toward the kopje or el Mau.

Maasai Village and School Visits
The Maasai of the Mbirikani Group Ranch are as natural a part of the area as the wildlife and have a close parternship with the lodge. Guests are able to visit the Maasai villages on the ranch, without a sense of voyeurism. It is an authentic experience, giving guests insight into the culture and traditions of the Maasai.

The Maasai community is 90 minutes drive from the lodge, allowing for a lovely game drive on the way, and perhaps a picnic lunch en route. If the village is willing to have visitors (we must ask at the time), then it is a lovely day trip. It costs US$20 per person and that goes directly back into the village to support their children’s education.

Photography is not a problem, although it is always polite to ask first. Generally the women in this group enjoy having their pictures taken and being able to see the images on the camera screens.

There will be plenty of traditionally crafted jewelry items for sale during your visit to the village, all of which are made by the women who live there. So if you are interested in shopping, we recommend that you take plenty of money with you, as it is better to have too much than too little. However, you will be under no pressure to buy anything while you are there if you don’t want to.

Log-pile Hide
Just below the lodge’s main area is our famous ‘log-pile’ hide named as such because if its elaborate and impressive interwoven construction. A short walk with a cool drink in hand, and you’ve arrived at a secret shaded spot from which to view the many mammals that come in for a drink. This is a tremendous experience, especially during the midday siesta.

Amboseli National Park Day Trip
Our proximity to Amboseli National Park gives the opportunity for full day excursions to the park. Guests depart the lodge after breakfast for a leisurely drive across the plains and through small villages. We usually arrive at the park in the mid-morning and depart in the mid-afternoon (with a picnic lunch and a full selection of drinks). We have selected this time of day as it coincides with the time when the guests from the other nearby larger lodges are on siesta, and vehicle density is at its lowest. This is also the time when the elephant and plains game congregate around the waterways and marshes in high density. This excursion can only be guaranteed in advance, please book it at the time of reservation and is subject to additional cost.

Young Explorers Program
ol Donyo Lodge is the ultimate family safari destination. The Young Explorers program is designed to enhance both a child and a family’s overall safari, weaving themes of conservation and culture into each fun activity with the intention of giving children tangible examples and moments to bring back to their peer group. The future of conservation is, after all, in the hands of these young ambassadors.

We offer a full range of activities from bush survival skills including making sling shots, bows and arrows and creating fire using tradition Maasai techniques, to watercolor painting and so much more.

ACCESS DIRECTIONS
Scheduled light aircraft transfer to the nearest airstrip, ol Donyo, from Nairobi’s Wilson domestic airport (45 mins) and other locations in Kenya;

ol Donyo Lodge is a 20-minute transfer from its airstrip;

Private Air access is also available/

SUITE DETAILS BEDROOM

  • 7 very large pool suites, each with rooftop star bed, private verandah and lounge
  • One two-bedroom pool suite of two identical suites (each with private en-suite), with a common pool and lounge;
  • All suites can be double or twin configuration;
  • All have views to a waterhole, savannah and Mount Kilimanjaro.
  • BATHROOM
  • En-suite with flush loo, shower (indoor and outdoor), deep stone tub and double basins;
  • Hot and cold running water;
  • Soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and eco-hairdryers provided.

CONSTRUCTION
Gunnite/cement & thatch.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL
Overhead ceiling fans and some suites have fireplaces.

MOSQUITO NETS
Netting over beds (both inside & roof-top).

FOOD & DRINK

  • All meals included;
  • All drinks and beverages are included with the exception of imported champagnes;
  • World-class (Relais & Chateaux recognised): Three delicious meals a day are provided. Flexible on timings. Picnic breakfasts or lunch are common due to the beautiful area and far-ranging activities;
  • All dietary requirements are catered for from regular to vegan to children, prior warning requested.

DINING STYLE
Group meals and/or individual tables, a la carte (menu options).

DINING LOCATIONS
Indoor and outdoor.

ROOM SERVICE
No.

POSSIBILITY OF DISABLED ACCESS

  • Dining Room allows disabled access;
  • Impia is closest to main area but has many steps, so Sirra 1 & 2 are used for walking impaired.

LAUNDRY
Included in nightly tariff - next day service, weather permitting.

CENTRAL FACILITIES/ COMMON AREAS

  • Double lounge with bar and verandah;
  • Library and office with shared computer;
  • Separate main dining suite;
  • Curio shop;
  • Coffee/tea station;
  • Main swimming pool with separate lounge  and dining;
  • Log-pile hide at waterhole.

SHOP/BOUTIQUE
Selling locally and regionally produced crafts, many of which support local community projects in the nearby Maasai communities.

  • SPA/GYM
    Yoga mats and bands are provided in each suite;
  • ​In-suite massage is available at additional cost.

EQUIPMENT

  • Each vehicle has Swarovski 8 x 42 binoculars for guest use;
  • Private vehicle has a Canon 40D camera with wide angle and 100-400mm lenses.

PRIVATE VEHICLE
Available at additional cost, based on availability. Required for all families with children ages 5-15.

CHILDREN

  • Children aged 5 years and older;
  • Families with children (5-15) will never be accommodated in the same vehicle as  other guests;
  • Children under 5 will be considered, if the group books the entire lodge on exclusive use;
  • Young children must be supervised as the lodge is open;
  • Age restrictions on activities may apply, specifically walking and horseback riding;
  • Kid’s program – thoughtfully designed to explore a range of experiences and topics from birding to cooking to art to tracking wildlife.

POWER & COMMUNICATIONS SOURCE

  • The lodge is run by a combination of solar and generator power;
  • The system produces 240V, 24-hour electricity to the suites and main area;
  • Outlets in each suite (British large three-pin).

PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENTGuests have the ability to use the following photographic equipment on a complimentary basis during their stay: Canon 7D camera bodies with a wide selection of 24-70mm, 28-135mm, 18-200mm, 28220mm and100-400mm lenses.

INTERNET & MOBILE

  • Mobile reception is relatively good and internet wireless access is intermittent;
  • There is a main computer for guest use;
  • No cell phones or computers are allowed in the public areas of lodge or on game drive vehicles, only in the privacy of guest suites.

MALARIA AREA
Minimal – Malaria prophylaxis are recommended if guests are concerned.

  • MEDICAL CARE
    Guests must hold comprehensive medical insurance and emergency evacuation insurance;
  • Senior staff all has first aid training;
  • Nearest decent medical facility is in Nairobi.

RISK OF DANGEROUS ANIMALS
Low.

SECURITY MEASURES
24-hours /day guards.

FIRE SAFETY
Fire extinguishers outside each suite.

SAFES
Safes are provided in every suite.

ACCEPTED PAYMENT ON LOCATION

  • All-inclusive. Staff gratuities can be paid in Kenyan Shillings, US Dollars or GB Pounds;
  • Visa, MasterCard are accepted with a 5% surcharge.

 

For more information on ol Donyo Lodge click HERE

Country: 
Special: 

Stay 4 nights / pay 3
Stay 8 nights / pay 6
Can combine with other select GP Kenya camps.
Valid Nov 1, 2019-May 31, 2020 & Nov 1, 2020-May 31, 2021 (ex. Dec 20-Jan 10, 2020/21).

New bookings only. Cannot combine with other offers. Restrictions apply.