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.
The central area at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp was built in 2016 and is a large, tan, concrete structure that is raised on a concrete base, a couple of meters off the floor, in case the river was to ever burst its banks. The building is open fronted, and all of the windows have canvas blinds that usually have the sides rolled up to let the breeze pass through and also allowing guests can take in the views of the river. The unfussy lounge is tucked around a corner decorated with small sofas, armchairs, director's chairs and big floor poufs to sit on, while traditional woven, kikois are draped around to add a touch of colour and rugs are strewn around to soften the concrete floors. Numerous coffee-table books are placed on tables, that surround a roaring log fireplace, to create a homely feel. In the centre of the main area is a large communal dining table and on the other side is a bar and two guest toilets. Another seating area overlooks the Ewaso Nyiro River and a salt lick beyond that. On our recent visit in late 2018 we spent some time here watching a large herd of elephant across the river enjoying themselves beside the water. On cool nights the tent's side panels are closed to create a cosy dinner party-style atmosphere.
The six, desert brown safari tents, including one large family tent, are dotted throughout the nearby bush. All are spacious and set quite a distance apart from each other, but the thick vegetation in between and rustic dividing fences makes each tent feel really private.
Each tent's veranda features a small table and two wooden armchairs with cushions and has views of the river. The main bedroom, accessed via canvas flaps on the side, is of a comfortable size and is simply decorated. The tents suit people who are not after a room with lots of frills, but want it to be comfortable, spacious, clean and of good quality. Each has a canvas floor with a couple of rugs, a large bed with bedside tables and shelving to store and hang clothing. Solar power lights the rooms, and there are plugs for you to charge your batteries.
The en-suite bathroom is located through a canvas flap behind the bedroom. This includes a double basin on a simple wooden stand with cold running water. Hot water is provided in a thermos flask for washing. There are two separate canvas cubicles – one is the bucket shower where hot water is provided on request, and the other is a flush toilet.
Activities focus on safari drives in 4WD vehicles in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Most activities are led by experienced guides – many of whom come from the local community. Alex Hunter, the affable and very knowledgeable owner, usually leads some drives himself if he is in camp. Alex is the grandson of legendary colonial-era hunter JA Hunter, and you can book his guaranteed services as a private guide at extra cost. As of 2021, walking safaris, as an alternative activity to game drives, are currently not being offered from Ol Pejeta Bush Camp while the nearby bush is very dense and extra firearm protection would be required. Check with your Expert Africa specialist to see if bush walks have been resumed.
Visits to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee refuge, and the Northern White Rhino Sanctuary, home to the last two remaining individuals of this subspecies in the world, are also possible. Visits to the latter are best booked in advance due to limited daily visitor numbers, so do ask us about it.
For those who want to relax in camp, there is also 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.
If you are considering climbing Mount Kenya, rather than simply admiring the peaks from Ol Pejeta Conservancy, then this camp makes a good base. Alex Hunter has considerable mountain-climbing experience and often organises 5-night climbs starting on the eastern side of the mountain, at the base of the Chogoria Trail, summiting at Point Lenana, and descending the Sirimon Trail back to Nanyuki. Ask us for further information.
Ol 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.
- Laikipia, Kenya
- Ideal length of stay
- 3–4 nights would be ideal here.
- 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
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- During our last visit in late 2018, the food at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp was very tasty and we enjoyed the communal dining.
Breakfast is either taken as a picnic, with cereals, fresh breads, boiled eggs, cold sausage and bacon, or back in camp where there is a greater selection, including a selection of pastries, yoghurt and a full cooked English breakfast to order with tea and coffee.
Lunch is buffet-style and includes tasty butternut and leek ravioli, beetroot salad, green salad with avocado and tempura fried vegetables. Dessert was a fresh melon salad.
Dinner is a more formal meal, with three set courses served to the table. When we stayed, we started with delicious butternut and ginger soup, followed by stuffed chicken breast served with cauliflower, broccoli and cheese stuffed potatoes. This was finished off apple doughnuts served with custard.
Like the camp, the food is unfussy and hearty and uses good fresh ingredients.
- Solo Travel
- Ol Pejeta doesn’t apply a single supplement outside of high season, so this camp is great value for a solo traveller looking for a range of activities and wildlife in the Laikipia region – where camps tend to be costlier than the average across Kenya.
- See ideas for Solo Travel
- Riding holidays
- Ol Pejeta Bush Camp offers horse riding in the protected areas of Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Accompanied by guides, you’ll enjoy gentle rides among the conservancy’s famous rhinos, including the last two northern white rhinos.
- See ideas for Riding holidays
- Attitude towards children
- Ol Pejeta Bush Camp is 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.
- 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.
- Ol Pejeta Bush Camp has a very discrete electric fence on three sides and the Ewaso Nyiro River on the fourth, with an electric fence beyond. 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 buffalo sometimes come into camp, meaning children cannot walk unaccompanied in camp during the day or night. Parents must keep a close eye on their children at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Ol Pejeta Bush Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There is 24 hour electricity in camp and guests can also charge their batteries in the tents.
- Ol Pejeta Bush Camp offers wireless internet that reaches a large proportion of camp, however the phone signal is intermittent and unreliable. 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 guest TV, but Alex would invite guests to his house for a major sporting event.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- A borehole supplies water for washing, laundry and showers, while 18-litre drinking water barrels are distributed into flasks for guests tents. Hot showers are available before dinner or whenever you request one. Hot washing water is provided by the basins every morning at wake-up time.
Fighting to save the last remaining white rhinos
Situated within Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Ol Pejeta Bush Camp makes up an ideal base for getting involved in game-changing conservation efforts whilst exploring an area hiding some of Kenia’s highest densities of wildlife. Perhaps the most meaningful contribution of the bush camp is the extraordinary support it provides to Ol Pejeta Conservancy for its rhino conservation efforts.
With over 100 critically endangered black rhinos, the conservancy is home to the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. Providing access to the sanctuary, Ol Pejeta’s guests can observe the rhinos, and in exchange financially support the conservancy’s dedicated employees, who monitor and protect rhinos on a 24h basis.
Tourists therefore play a central role in supporting Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s projects, and especially the last two remaining Northern white rhinos in the entire world. Visitors are invited to donate in memory of Sudan, the last male white rhino who unfortunately passed away in May, 2018. Donations are essential for supporting IVF research, and hopefully get these animals one step away from extinction, and one stop closer to being able to roam freely in their natural habitat. In exchange, Ol Pejeta Bush Camp offers visitors exclusive access to the Northern white rhino sanctuary, which make for a unique chance to learn about what makes Ol Pejeta one of the leading examples of modern day rhino conservation.
So far £47,805 has been raised for supporting research. Bush Camp plans to remain an active supporter through educating tourists and spreading the word about the fundraiser, thus contributing to the goal of reaching £9.0M for saving a species in the brink of extinction because of humans’ irresponsibility.
See more great sustainability projects in Kenya
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Ol Pejeta Camp has first-aid equipment in camp and six members of staff have done first aid courses. All vehicles have basic kits too. The trusted Nanyuki Cottage Hospital is less than 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. The six staff who did first-aid training also did fire-training at the same time.
Guided walking safari
- 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.
- Ol Pejeta Bush Camp can exchange small amounts out of 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 most major currencies.
Other lodges in Laikipia
Alternative places to stay in this same area.