Supermodels and Elephant Charges
Ol Donyo was our first stop in the mini-epic Kenya 2012 safari. It was a good start. This place puts the ‘glam’ in ‘glamping’. There was a supermodel and crew on a fashion shoot during my stay. It was also very luxurious: rooftop sleeping, views of watering holes from every window, 5 salads at lunch. The place is so service oriented that there was a bartender on duty in the morning – that’s my excuse for getting into an 11 a.m. post-riding beer habit.
The scenery was spectacular here. It has the most beautiful view of the three places I visited. The lodge is on a slope of the Chyulu hills and there are spectacular views of the open plain ahead and hills surrounding the lodge. The wildlife isn’t as plentiful as in the Mara and Borana but we saw lots of animals including one lion family, giraffes, elephants and all sorts of deer.
I chose Ol Donyo primarily for the riding and really enjoyed the luxurious accommodations. Here are my trip highlights:
1. The best was my horse. His name is Maringu (Swahili for cloud) and he’s a South African Boerperd. This breed was developed by South African Boers for the military. I have never had such a smooth ride. Over hill and dale, I felt like I was gliding.
2. We encountered a crabby bull elephant one pleasant morning. Luckily, one of our guides spotted him first and gave us the heads up (time to shorten the reins) a few minutes before he charged. Apparently, it was a ‘mock charge’ but it felt real to me. Kim reminded me of the protocol – turn around and move away calmly! All went well and it was kinda fun. A tale to tell over cocktails back at the lodge.
3. We would gallop through the bush and burst onto the plain, motivating the flight animals to think “Hey, 4 legged herbivores running, I’m running too.” It is extraordinary to gallop WITH the gazelles and zebras rather than just watch them from a jeep.
4. One night after dinner, Daniel K spirited us away in the jeep to spot the local lions. We got to see the mother and her children with the remains of their kill. It’s quite something to sit in the dark in a jeep and hear jackals’ howls as they surround you. I have to admit I have to work on the drinking-while-pursuing-lions thing as I spilled my cocktail.
5. Meeting Daniel K. A super energetic, enthusiastic Maasai guide who made me laugh and let Siobhan ‘win’ a bike race.
I highly recommend Ol Donyo – and urge non-riders to give riding a try. The riding team will take you out for a gentle walk on the plain and you’ll ride amongst giraffe, hartebeest, gazelle…..
If you’re looking for an opportunity to give back to Kenya after you visit. The Maasailand Preservation Trust is associated with some of the folks from Ol Donyo and has animal, anti-poaching and education programs.
Booked through In The Saddle.
Date of safari: June 2012