oL Donyo Lodge: The Kopjes and Kilimanjaro
Exploring The Chyulu Hills is a magical experience and ol Donyo Lodge acts as the perfect starting point to explore this amazing area which rises up to 2,174m. The surrounding area is one vast volcanic geological outcrop covered by scenic and mysterious acacia forests which are the perfect place to see elephants, oryx, topi, zebra, impala and elands, not to mention a variety of around 380 bird species.
The beautiful hills are bordered by an expanse of black lava flow known as Shetani (Devil) which originate from the hills and is the subject in many local legends.
Right now our guests are able to hike through lushness created by recent rains in the shadow of Mt Kilimanjaro but perhaps the greatest charm lies in the vast and mainly uninhabited panorama dominated by the mountain.
Recently, the full moon was shining and we were once again bathed in the beauty of the Kenyan night sky and the expansive skies dusted with millions of stars were so surreal.
Waiting patiently for the rains to clear over the past few weeks paid off and on the full moon evening oL Donyo Lodge managers, Ray and Alyssa, decided to see what a night on the kopjes would be like…..and they weren’t disappointed!
Mt. Kilimanjaro showed majestically on the drive across the lava flows to the kopjes. The kopjes are massive granite outcrops on the plains and not only is the view from the top amazing but the drive there is equally impressive.
As we slowly worked our way through the small forested area in front of the lodge we met up with many giraffe families. It seems giraffe are just as curious about us as we are about them, but the new shoots on the tree tops were inevitably more exciting than a car of wide-eyed travellers, so it was back to eating and, of course, showing the young ones how it’s done.
Upon leaving the forest we came out onto the plains of tall grass which is the perfect grazing ground for herds of gazelle who weren’t quite as calm as the giraffe and scattered in flashes of browns and whites through the grass.
Driving further towards the kopjes and looking back, we were amazed by the beauty of the Chyulu Hills stretching as far as the eye can see and draped in glorious greens with the smallest hint of a rainbow; it seemed like another planet.
With the kopjes ahead in full view, the ostrich and the wildebeest made way in their usual scattered running off, seemingly without any sense of direction! We made our final approach to the base of these rust-colored rocks and coming up close we realized just how small we really are in comparison.
A short climb up exposed an indescribable panorama: a 360 view of the world below and, as always, pleasantly watched over by a Kilimanjaro that felt as though one could reach out and touch it.
With the full moon rising to the east and the sun setting in front to the west we settled in for a moonlit evening on the rock, cooking dinner on an open fire and falling asleep with the stars above and the warm rock beneath. If this wasn’t the top of the world, it sure was close.
Ray & Alyssa, oL Donyo Lodge.
Photographs: Jeremy Goss