February here at ol Donyo Lodge has been an exciting roller-coaster of events and emotions. We have had the great fortune of being able to sight several elusive characters here over the past month with the most recent being a cheetah sighting on a game drive up to the hilltop of ol Donyo Wuas. As aloof as some of our animal neighbors seem to be, the magical Kilimanjaro can at times be equally as shy.
However, the mornings in February have almost consistently graced us with the presence of the majestic view of Kili with some mornings so clear, you feel as though you can simply reach out and touch the snow capped peak. With the introduction of our new bush dinner site, and the full moon a few nights ago, the clear awe-inspiring view of the world’s highest free-standing mountain is almost too much to describe.
Another rare sight this month came about when one of our resident bull elephants was found with an arrow in it’s left side. As unfortunate as a tragedy this is, it did give our guests the unique opportunity to follow the wonderful rangers at Big Life and the process involved to aid the elephant. We are extremely fortunate to be able to have Big Life situated on the same site as ol Donyo as it allows us to get a first hand insight into what Big Life achieves. In short, Big Life Foundation seeks to conserve and sustain the wildlife and the wild lands of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem of East Africa through innovative conservation strategies that address the greatest threats. Which we are sadly finding more and more right on our very own doorstep…..
With 2 guide vehicles and 9 of our guests we were able to follow the rangers, Richard Bonham and the vet along with our two stable managers from Ride Kenya. After initially watching the wounded elephant to access his situation he made a quick break and started off deeper into the bush. All vehicles followed at a distance with Richard and the vet in the lead, it was not more that 5 minutes before the vet hard fired the tranquilizer and the elephant had slowed and lay down. Unfortunately the wound was on the side on which the elephant lay so with time being of the essence various methods were tried to roll 6 tons. Finally with the help of the lodges tractor the elephant was rolled and treated. We are very happy to say the the whole process was a great success and the elephant has been recently spotted and doing well!
On top of the elephant excitement, our guests this month have really taken advantage of all there is to offer here with many a horse ride, hike and even running on the wide open plains. If we had to pick one activity which everybody raved about this month it is the hike up ol Donyo Wuas. We started the hike from the lodge itself and as ol Donyo Wuas loomed over us we wondered if we would be able to make it to the top in time for the sunset (and of course sundowners and snacks!).
Although the gradual climb up was easier than most had anticipated and on one of the hikes the group was greeted by 2 young bull elephants along with seeing various gazelles, a herd of giraffes, beautiful birds and the ever changing flora and fauna the higher the we hiked.
Crossing a large area which seemed to have been plucked from another world, with tall grass, lush green trees and teaming with birds and butterflies, we turned back to be taken aback by the most amazing views of the Chyulu Hills. They stretched as far as the eye can see, with the setting sun brushing the hills, it made the golds and greens rolling gently onto the plains and so vivid that it could quite easily have been a painting. With this amazing sight we climbed our final stretch with our guide cars at the top as our final motivation and the goal was every bit worth the climb. The sun set in the distance besides her majesty Kili and behind us the full moon slowly began to rise over seemingly endless hills. The hills and the area here are often described as magical and on this evening, it was not hard to see why.