Ol Donyo Lodge is located on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills National Park and situated between Amboseli and Tsavo West National Parks in south east Kenya. Views of Mount Kilimanjaro are unrivalled and it lies on the path of seasonal elephant migrations. Every visitor to this lodge is contributing towards the conservation of this magnificently wild area and its animals. There are daily flights into Ol Donyo which has its own airstrip. Coming in to land between the hills is spectacular. Kilimanjaro was unfortunately covered in cloud on our arrival. We were met with cold beers by the delightful Dan who guided us for the duration of our stay.
THE HIDE – THE HIGHLIGHT!
We would be quite happy to spend all day, every day at the two hides adjacent to each other – in fact many photographers do exactly that! One hide is at ground level and the other is below ground – both offer excellent photographic opportunities. The below ground hide is spectacular in that you can see and hear every slurp and rumble when the tuskers come in to drink…. and every vicious kick and bite when the zebras squabble over prized place at the water hole. Truly awe inspiring and what makes this place so very special.
The communal area over looks the swimming pool and main hide which is in constant use by local wildlife. The two bedroom ‘family room’ that we stayed in has its own window ‘to the soul of East Africa: looking out over the plunge pool, over the rolling plains and to Mount Kilimanjaro with its own waterhole as well as outdoor rooftop ‘star-beds’ which are up a little flight of stairs to the side of the accommodation. Rooms are beautifully decorated in natural materials and have both an indoor and outdoor shower. We had a leisurely breakfast on our balcony on our last day. A DSLR Camera is on offer for use for the duration of your stay. Highly recommend a massage – stunning setting and very relaxing.
🙂 Stunning vista, great food and incredible wildlife viewing from your deck
🙁 The room could do with more lighting although understand that it all adds to the ambiance.
Apart from relaxing and spending time at the hide, there is much else to see and do. Our first adventure was to explore the lava tube caves which are a 45min drive away from the lodge. We were met by the BigLife Foundation armed rangers who accompanied us down into the darkness of the tube. The Chyulu Hills has the deepest known lava tube cave in the world and at about 11.5Km Leviathan Cave is one of the longest lava tubes on earth. We startled an owl which flew out and also came across a few bats. The descent was steep in several areas but the cave is large, although eerie with trees growing out of the lava. There were several bones to be found and we were told that elephant poachers in years gone by use to use these caves to hide in. Fortunately and thanks to the efforts of the BigLife Foundation poaching in this area is on the decline. Definitely worth the scramble and the experience! After we emerged from the cool dark depths of the cave we were treated to well deserved sundowners on arrival back at the vehicle. Paul managed to touch the top of Kilimanjaro which was now visible as the sun started setting.
Our 2nd day dawned and it was our friend’s 50th Birthday. Our morning activity was horseriding. We were fitted out with riding hats and chaps and then undertook a quick assessment in the school. This was to ensure that we were all capable riders should a tusker or a lion appear out of nowhere and startle the horses as we rode through the bush. This heightened our nerves but fortunately no such issues arose! Our horses were great and we enjoyed a few canters on the open plains with the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro looming ahead of us – a fantastic experience. We felt safe at all times and the team took photos and videos for us. A super champagne bush breakfast awaited us – what a great way to start the day’s celebrations!
The celebrations continued and we enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Hide watching the Tuskers come and go. Then it was time to relax by the pool and have a massage. After a nap we were summoned for sundowners – magnificent watching the sunset in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro!
On arrival back at camp it was time for a specially prepared 50th dinner with wonderful African singing. An evening to remember!
Our final morning – very sad to be departing this wonderful place. Our flight was slightly delayed due to adverse weather in Nairobi so we went and enjoyed some more time at the hide along with a complimentary bottle of champagne! As we drove back to the airstrip these two lions came to wish us well!