WELCOME TO OL DONYO LODGE
“I sat on the logs that surround the hide at ol DonyoLodge, listening to the elephants rumbling nearby. It was almost a meditation, and I thought, wait, maybe we should create a meditation and soundtrack like this, rather than that canned music you hear when you have a Great Plains Lifestyle massage! That is when the elephant touched my leg with his trunk!” says Dereck Joubert as he reflects on the origins of some of the Great Plains moments.
Wedged between Kenya’s Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks in the heart of the Chyulu Hills, the lodge, honed from the ancient lava rock that spewed out of Kilimanjaro 360,000 years ago, creates a timelessness that touches everyone who visits us.
On the Mbirikani Group Ranch – 275,000 acres of private wild Africa bordering Chyulu Hills National Park and owned by 4,000 Maasai – ol Donyo Lodge blends contemporary design with the rich Maasai culture. “We consider the community our partners, and there are financial benefits beyond the lease fees we pay, that go to them, for teachers, for scholars and for other community projects that are designed to lift our people based on wildlife conservation and tourism strategically.” Dereck adds: “When you come to ol Donyo, your tourism dollars are helping us make this into a model of collaborative conservation, and as a result, we are having great success with lions and cheetahs and the icon bull elephants that are some of the last remaining large tuskers in Africa.
The lodge is designed so that each suite has its own window ‘to the soul of East Africa: looking out over their private plunge pool and across the rolling plains and to Mount Kilimanjaro. All six suites plus a two-bedroom family suite offer stunning star beds, where you can sleep out under the canopy of stars and listen to the hyenas and lions moving around. ol Donyo Lodge is a property that most embraces community, and our guides can even take you to a nearby village – an authentic experience that can change your life. We walk, cycle, horse ride, drive around the conservancy, and return to Relais and Châteaux quality meals served by our Executive Chef and his team. Relais and Châteaux stand for that excellence in exemplary dining and wine (in this case, from our hand-picked wine selection and cellar) and service excellence. We are proud to be one of only three Relais properties in Kenya, the others being our camps – Mara Plains and Mara Nyika.
“I believe that a safari today must be a full and rich experience where there are no apologies for service. That must be excellent. Where life-changing wildlife viewing and well-designed accommodation, which we like to think of as being in a Great Plains style, is also vitally important. The final magic is then that guests must be part of a family… our family.” Dereck continues: “Many of our first-time guests feel that ol Donyo is the best “first stop,” on their safari, and we have often had to prize children off the necks of guides because the kids fall in love with them, with the activities in our Young Explorers programs and… just because it feels like home.”