Ol Donyo Lodge

Ol Donyo Lodge: Information from the owner

All the information on this page is supplied to us directly from the lodge owner and reflects their view, not ours.
For Expert Africa's view, see our own report, which contains our own observations and views.

Type Safari Lodge
No. of rooms 10
Last updated 1-Sep-2014

Main description of Ol Donyo Lodge

Ol Donyo Lodge: Facilities

Property facilities Spa
Room facilities Deck, En-Suite, Fan, Lounge Area, Outside Shower, Private Pool / Jacuzzi, Pure Cotton Linen, Safe, Tea / Coffee, Verandah, Dressing Gowns, Fireplace, Shower
Available services Airport Shuttles, Laundry Service, Credit Card
Activities on site (some activities may be seasonal) Big 5, Bird Watching, Cycling, Game Drives, Game Viewing, Game Walks, Horse Riding, Walks, Fine Dining, Horse-back Safaris, Massages, Safaris, Child Friendly Activities, Cultural Tours, General Sightseeing, Mountain Biking, Wine Tasting, Hiking

Room types at Ol Donyo Lodge

Non-pool suites (2)

Non-pool suites (2)

With all the style and amenities of the above described pool suites, except private pools. These two stand-alone standard suites are Asali and Mpya.

Pool Suites (8)

Pool Suites (8)

The breadth and depth of ol Donyo Lodge's living and dining area is absolutely awe-inspiring. Upon entering, one is immediately struck by spaciousness and yet the intimacy. The entire main area is set high on the hillside, and opens completely to the plains below, with Mount Kilimanjaro ever present in the distance. The use of stone, thatch and wood make for a very tactile experience, which fills the senses. The low-impact gunnite construction (a combination of wire, hessian cloth and minimal cement) creates a contemporary style. The space flows, there are no straight lines and unique architectural details give character to every area. The magnificent iron-ore chandeliers coupled with grand fireplace provide a warm glow, accented by the rich earth tones. Arched doorways, indoor gardens, bronze sculptures, Zanzibari wood doors, Victorian furniture and romantic prose grace the space. It is captivating. Just below the main area, but also on the hillside is a breathtaking infinity pool, complete with a private lounge and dining area. With views of the lodge’s famous waterhole and luxurious voile curtains and cushions, it's the perfect place to while away the afternoon. Al fresco lunches on the verandah and or candlelit dinners in the main dining room are wonderful, but we also enjoy hosting breakfasts in the plains and dinners under the African sky; or surprise sundowners and classic English tea in the romantic setting of the bush. Finally, it's a night cap around the cozy outdoor fireplace to round out another perfect day in Africa. ol Donyo Lodge consists of ten expansive guest suites in six stand-alone villas. No two spaces are of the same design but all have a dramatic view of the archetypal African savannah and its flat top acacia trees with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. 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 and Angela Fisher 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. The pool suites are four-bedded private villas and are ideal for families or small groups of friends. They are designed to be versatile and function either as family villas or for two couples while still maintaining an element of privacy. An outer central foyer connects the two suites. These are Nyati, Sirra, and El Mau. Lastly, 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.

Activities at Ol Donyo Lodge

Game drives, Mountain biking, Horseback riding, Hiking, Sleep-outs & Culture

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 frequently masters of elusivity; however, cheetah, fringe-eared oryx, gerenuk, and giraffe make for frequent viewing. Guests are able to track wildlife by open game drive vehicles, by foot, or horseback. Late afternoon and early evening drives are featured for those interested in spotting the more elusive nocturnal species.

The real exclusivity of ol Donyo Lodge is apparent when out exploring the land. The entire area is reserved exclusively for ol Donyo Lodge guests – no other tourists, no fleets of mini-buses – it’s private, pure and wild. Each day is different, there is no set routine. It is there for the making – a safari of the guest’s design. While it may be tempting to laze around the lovely suites, and bask in the sun next to the private pool, the diverse activities at ol Donyo Lodge are equally as alluring. There is arguably no other lodge in Africa with this wide a range of options for the safari enthusiast.

Of course we depart daily in the 4x4 game drive vehicles on the search for wildlife, but the real pleasure of ol Donyo Lodge rests in the more non-traditional mediums of safari. Often, we will simply set out tracking and walking as a means of wildlife viewing. The Mbirikani Group Ranch features an incredible diversity of habitats. Perhaps the most unique is the high-altitude mist forest, where leopard and rhino lurk, and an incredible amount of biodiversity is present. It is a microcosm, unlike any other area of the ranch. So in addition to tracking, a hike to this area, from the lodge, is very rewarding.

Imagine being at eye-level with one of ol Donyo Lodge’ 100-pound tusker elephants, or looking at the knobby knees of a giraffe, or the antics of warthog all while sitting peacefully and absorbing the intimacy of this precious moment. This is ol Donyo Lodge’s open air hide or “log-jam” hide, a mass of heavy logs piled about five feet high and three feet thick shaded by canopy, where guests are able to safely view wildlife at exceptionally close range at the lodge’s waterhole. It is a privilege. This “log-jam” hide, located just a short walk from the lodge’s main area, is a lovely midday activity or for those wanting impromptu wildlife viewing opportunities.

The Chyulu Hills and its diverse ecosystem lend itself perfectly to horseback safaris. From the mist forests, to the open plains, to the dense woodland, a horse navigates the landscape gracefully. To come along for the ride, and experience wildlife on horseback, is an experience not to be missed. Our team of over 25 horses, ranging in size and catering for riders of all levels of experience, takes guests safely through the ranch with excellent prowess. We take pride in the training and care of our horses and have safaris for all experience levels. Many guests who are familiar with excellent horseback safaris elsewhere in Africa have stated, "This is the best horse riding country in Africa." For guests of the lodge, horseback safaris can be a full or half-day activity. Guests interested in overnight or multi-day horseback safaris should reference the Ride Kenya Mobile Horse Safaris programs found on this website.

We’ve just recently pioneered wildlife viewing from mountain biking which is an exhilarating exploratory activity. We set out across the savannahs with an armed guide and enjoy the freedom of riding on the open plains potentially viewing amongst others, zebras and wildebeests.

After a bike ride, why not join our resident bloodhound as we scent track through the woodland in a game of ‘hide and seek’. This is an especially prized activity for children.

The Maasai of the Mbirikani Group Ranch are as natural a part of the area as the wildlife. After years as partners on the land, Richard & Tara Bonham have a very unique ‘second home’ with the Maasai. 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. Please note the Maasai do charge a small fee for taking photos.

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. 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.

For those guests wanting a more private safari experience, sole use of a vehicle is available. Our private vehicle comes equipped with a Canon50-D body and 17-85mm and 100-400mm lenses. During the guest’s stay, images are downloaded each day. This allows for instant feedback, improvement and learning on-site. Upon departure, with the images burnt to disc as a souvenir. This arrangement must be made at the time of booking and incurs an additional cost.