December News – ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya

 ‘View from our plunge pool onto the majestic Kilimanjaro….’

Wow, what a month December was at ol Donyo!!

It is strange to think that we are into a new year already as December seems but a blur. The rains blessed us, a little late, but blessed us they did. We now stare out onto lush, emerald green plains as far as the eye can see, all towered over by Kilimanjaro herself, which at this time of year is amazing, clear and almost a guaranteed view in the morning and during the sunset.

The festive season this year all started when we found the perfect Whistling Acacia thorn tree from the area to create into our magnificent ol Donyo Christmas Tree.   After the resident ants were allowed to leave, we all took turns to spray each of the thorny globes on the tree Gold.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA‘The team struggle to get the tree into the perfect spot into the lodge—but worth the all the effort, it created an instant festive HIT!’

The next challenge was getting it into the lobby in a huge clay pot filled with lava gravel and only then decorating it with painted gourds and lights. There was the occasional “ouch” but all in all we think it turned out great and added a little festive sparkle for the guests.

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‘The finished tree, isn’t she grand?!’

We had a lot of fun this Christmas at the lodge especially with ideas on how to make it special for the guests, most of it of course revolved around food!

For Christmas Eve, we decided to do a 5 course dinner at our upper mess dining room. It was the perfect location to highlight the warmth and feeling of Christmas. The table was dressed in gold and reds and a roaring fire with many storm lanterns completed the effect.

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Home smoked (in Smokey, our Smoker) kingfish with sweet and sour slaw and grilled homemade Rye bread was a part of the festive courses throughout the holiday season

The kitchen pulled out all of the stops and guests were treated to curried Pumpkin and Apple Soup, pressed duck terrine with wholegrain mustard and pickles, Pistachio Crusted Tuna with Fennel Gallette and Lemon Aioli, Classic Beef Wellington and last but not least a light and moist whole Poached Citrus Cake.

Christmas day too was filled with fantastic food and surprises as our guests were treated to a surprise bush breakfast, some were hiking and some were arriving that morning, as both groups came over the crest of the hill we were waiting with a full table set up complete with beads and decorations and with Kilimanjaro as the backdrop! Not a bad way to enjoy Christmas breakfast.

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As all our guests enjoy their ‘Surprise Bush Breakfast’ Santa comes in on Tembo, all decked out in festive cheer…………  And a Shuka filled with presents for all!

Whilst the guests enjoyed homemade bagels with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, our very own Stables Santa rode in on a festively decorated Tembo, our biggest white horse, and the guests were treated to presents from the local village including shuka’s, bracelets and tree ornaments.

Christmas Dinner was a traditional feast with too many items to mention, a stand out item was our herb brined turkey, our homemade Christmas pudding and a delicious pumpkin Crème brûlée tart!

It wasn’t all eating over the festive season, there were many opportunities for the guests to get out and stretch their legs and walk off some of the tasty food, at this time of year, the rains have left the area so beautiful and green it is almost a must to hike through the hills and take in the emerald plains and views below. The hike up ol Donyo Waus has proven to be extremely popular, especially around sun set where the mixture of pinks and oranges in the sky compliment the greens of the land.

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Minutes after Bahait the 2 day old Thompson Gazelle was saved… weak and hungry.

Due to the rains a lot of our animals have also stretched their legs and moved out to other areas to enjoy the tasty grass and large watering holes, one little Thompson gazelle sadly got left behind and we found him very weak and not doing too well on our air strip. We bought him back to the lodge and we had huge concerns that he would not make it. We estimated him as being only 1 or 2 days old. Our store man, Dan, informed us that when he was a young boy in the bush he raised a Thompson gazelle and he really wanted to try to save this one. By adapting a soda bottle to a feeding bottle using some tyre inner tube, he slowly got the gazelle to take some warm milk. We are very happy to say that after a week, the gazelle is walking around and greeting guests, today he started to graze already and has been christened “Bahati” which in Swahili means Luck!

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Bahati happy and healthy after just a few days…. We are so ecstatic to have him be the newest addition of the ol Donyo family!

….and as we leave you with this last picture of healthy, happy and energetic Bahati, we also would like to wish you all the very LUCKIEST of 2014 from ol Donyo Lodge!

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