Ol Pejeta Bush Camp looks across the Ewaso Nyiro river...
Ol Pejeta Bush Camp: Our full report
Ol Pejeta Bush Camp is an informal, rustic-style bush camp on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River in the northern part of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, in southern Laikipia.We have stayed twice at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp, most recently in March 2014. This report is based on our 2012 stay and we will be adding minor updates in the near future as the camp has upgraded. Meanwhile, please call us to discuss the camp.
The central areas at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp comprise two separate safari tents which usually have the sides rolled up to let the breeze pass through and so guests can take in the views. The unfussy lounge tent is decorated with small sofas, armchairs, Director chairs and big floor poufs to sit on, while traditional kikoys are draped around to add a touch of colour and rugs are strewn around to soften the canvas floors. Locally grown roses and numerous coffee-table books are placed on tables to create a homely feel.
The dining tent at Ol Pejeta is kitted out in exactly the same in style and dominated by a central communal table covered in a kikoy tablecloth and bunches of roses. On cool nights the tent’s side panels are closed to create a cozy dinner party-style atmosphere.
The six dark-green safari tents, including one large family tent, are dotted throughout the nearby bush. All are set a reasonable distance apart from each other, but the thick vegetation in between makes each tent feel really private.
A high wicker roof – to offer additional cooling shade – covers the tents and each veranda features a small table and directors' chair. The main bedroom, accessed via dark-green canvas flaps, is of a comfortable size and is simply decorated. These are not top-end luxury tents; they are a bit older than many you will find elsewhere, but they still have bags of character. They suit people who are not after a room with lots of frills, but want it to be comfortable, clean and of good quality. Each has a canvas floor with a couple of rugs, a large bed with bedside tables and a luggage rack. Solar power lights the rooms, but you cannot plug things in or charge batteries in your room; this has to be done in the main communal tents.
The en-suite bathroom is located in a separate section a few feet behind the bedroom. They share a large canvas roof, but you do have to leave the main bedroom section to get to the shower and toilet.
Hot water is brought to you in the mornings, or on request, for the bucket shower and a bucket of cold clean water is always positioned underneath the sink for when you want to clean your face. A separate cubicle houses the flush toilet.
Activities at the bush camp focus on safari drives in 4WD vehicles, and walks accompanied by an armed escort, and all happen in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Most activities are lead by experienced guides – many of whom come from the local community. Alex, the owner, usually leads some tours himself and particularly enjoys taking guests out with a tracker for a few hours, looking for birds and signs of wildlife in the bush.
Visits to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and the Northern White Rhino Sanctuary, home to four of the last remaining individuals of this subspecies in the world, are also possible. These are best booked in advance due to limited daily visitor numbers, so do ask us about it.
Ol Pejeta Bush Camp also has a hide that overlooks a waterhole and guests can stay overnight here, for free, if they want to. A vehicle and guide stays with you for security. Dinner is taken with you and you sleep on bedrolls on a tree platform – it is a simple and adventurous option that would suit people who are keen to do something different.
For those who want to relax in camp, there is still the chance to view game at the salt lick on the opposite bank of the river. It often brings in rhinos at night, which causes great excitement!
Our viewOl Pejeta Camp is certainly one of the most authentic bush camps we have stayed at in Kenya. It can offer great flexibility due to its small size and focuses on good food and guiding. Its informal, homely approach doesn’t divorce you from your surroundings and you feel fully immersed in the African bush, making it ideal for seasoned Africa visitors and adventurous travellers.
Ideal length of stay: 3–4 nights would be ideal here.
Directions: To reach Ol Pejeta Bush Camp, there is an hour’s flight from Nairobi to Nanyuki, then it is another hour’s drive to the camp. The town of Nanyuki is 30kms away.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Alex Hunter
Staff: They have two guides: one silver and one bronze. James Ndii and Patrick Letooya and Gilbert Masha (also the chef but just passed his bronze).
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: During our last visit, the food at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp was very tasty and we enjoyed the communal dining.
Breakfast would either be taken as a picnic, with cereals, fresh breads, boiled eggs, cold sausage and bacon, or back in camp where there would be a greater selection, including yoghurt and a full cooked English breakfast.
Lunch was buffet style and included tasty homemade pizza with cheese and parma ham, avocado and feta salad, couscous, grated carrot and coriander salad, with fresh fruit salad and natural yoghurt for dessert.
Dinner was a more formal event, with three set courses being served to the table. We started with delicious carrot and coriander soup, followed by beef fillet served with vegetables and finished off with a chocolate tart.
Like the camp, the food is unfussy and hearty and uses good fresh ingredients.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All drinks are included at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp, except champagne and specially imported wines and spirits.
Further dining info: Group Meals - unless couples and honeymooners and couples request otherwise. Ol Pejeta Bush Camp can be very flexible on room service, but there are no phones or radios in the rooms so it has to be arranged in advance.
Attitude towards children: The Bush Camp are happy to have children in the camp.
Property’s age restrictions: There is no minimum age.
Special activities & services: Ol Pejeta can do short tracking activities around the camp and other activities focused on engaging children.
Equipment: They don’t have any special equipment for children in camp, but can borrow it if required.
Generally recommended for children: The relaxed nature of this camp makes it a great spot for families, but it is also quite wild and rustic. We think it is best suited to families with older children who are aware of their surroundings.
Notes: Ol Pejeta Bush Camp has a very discrete elephant fence on three sides and then a river on the fourth. The primary aim of this is to keep elephants out to help tree rehabilitation, but it also means that you are less likely to get these big animals coming through camp. That said, it doesn’t stop all dangerous animals and there are two resident buffalo around, so children can’t walk around the camp alone during the day or at night. Parents must keep a close eye on their children at all times.
Communications: There is no internet or WiFi at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp, but there is often an intermittent albeit unreliable phone signal. There probably isn’t enough signal to make a phone call, unless you drive 100m out of camp, but it usually allows text messages to be sent. The camp has a radio for emergencies.
TV & radio: Ol Pejeta Bush Camp doesn’t have a TV or music radio.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Ol Pejeta Camp has first-aid equipment in camp and a qualified first aider. All vehicles have basic kits too. The trusted Nanyuki College Hospital is under an hour away. The camp has links to flying doctors for more serious emergencies.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Ol Pejeta Bush Camp policy is to escort guests around the camp at night.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers dotted around the camp and the river in front acts as a natural firebreak.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp. It is hand washed, line dried and coal ironed, so it is best to avoid anything too delicate. The team doesn’t wash ladies underwear, but soap powder is provided in the rooms.
Money: Ol Pejeta Bush Camp can exchange small amounts out of petty cash, but no more than about GB£100/US$150. They have a central safe for guests to put valuables in.
Accepted payment on location: Ol Pejeta Bush Camp only accepts cash, but in any major currency.