Ol Donyo Lodge
, previously known as Ol Donyo Wuas Lodge
, is located at the foot of the Chyulu Hills
in Southeast Kenya
Chyulu is a relatively little known area of beautiful upland scenery which lies between the flatlands of Amboseli
and Tsavo West
, 75km to the northeast of Mount Kilimanjaro
which provides a scenic backdrop on clear days. Unlike the national parks either side, the area attracts very few visitors and therefore retains a much greater sense of wilderness.
Set on a private conservancy on the lower slopes of the western side of these hills, Ol Donyo Lodge was created by safari pioneer Richard Bonham and is now owned by Great Plains, a high-end operator with a small portfolio of top lodges across Africa.
The lodge is centred on open-sided public areas, constructed of the local stone under thatch, with campfire area out front and a swimming pool area to one side. Guest accommodation is in eight sumptuous suites, each with private plunge pools and rooftop sleeping decks. The whole camp has views out over a distant but active waterhole, where there is a rather good log-pile hide.
Activities include excellent hiking, slow-paced vehicle safari, walking safari, bush meals and night vehicle safari. The camps is particularly strong for horse-back safari and has a substantial stables a few kilometres to the north. Cultural visits to the local Maasai villages are also possible.
The core upland areas, which form the bulk of the national park, comprise mainly of dome topped hills which are in part covered by patches of open acacia woodlands and dense forests. These altitudes are much better watered than the surrounding plains and provide sanctuary to many animals during the Jul/Oct dry season, notably elephants, elands and hartebeests.
The plains to the southwest of the hills contain a network of large private conservancies and Maasai tribal lands, home to a very wide range of wildlife notably including giraffes, elephants, zebras, wildebeest. Predators including lions, spotted hyenas, cheetahs, leopards and servals are also present, but sightings are relatively few and far between. Wildlife numbers can actually be more prolific in this area during the Nov/Jun green season, which is counter to the usual trend in this part of the world.
The main potential downsides are the very high price of the lodge, the potential for low predator sightings in the immediate area, the fact that it is a long drive down to the main Amboseli National Park should you want to visit and that these landscapes can become extremely parched during the tail end of the dry season Aug/Nov.SeasonsPrices