- High end lodge in secluded location
- Spectacular wilderness views
- Deluxe suites with pools and star beds
- Horse riding, biking, game drives, hiking
Ol Donyo Lodge is an upmarket establishment on a private reserve bordering the Chyulu Hills National Park, in southeast Kenya. Perched on a wooded hillside within the vast Maasai owned Mbirikani Group Ranch, the lodge boasts splendid views of the surrounding plains, and on clear days the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro provides a stunning backdrop. Boasting strong hosting and guiding and a good choice of activities, the lodge offers eight deluxe suites with plunge pools. The surrounding wilderness is home to the big 5 (rhino, lion, leopard, elephant, and Cape buffalo) along with giraffe, oryx, zebra, and the elusive cheetah, and provides solid game viewing opportunities, although note that animal density is less intense than in the Masai Mara.
The stone main lodge has high thatched ceilings and an open-fronted aspect with panoramic views across the savannah. Communal areas include a cosy main lounge with an open fire, a dining area, bar, library, and gift shop. Outside is a spacious terrace with dining tables, a campfire area, and an inviting infinity pool with loungers. The camp runs predominantly on solar power, and supports eco-friendly initiatives including water and refuse recycling.
The wide range of activities includes morning and afternoon game drives and night drives with informed enthusiastic guides, plus mountain biking, hiking, and guided walks. Exhilarating, up-close wildlife viewing is possible from a nearby log pile hide which overlooks an adjacent water hole. Horse riding is available for all levels of experience, including beginners and cultural visits to local villages and schools provide an authentic glimpse into the traditional Maasai way of life. Bush breakfasts and dinners take place in stunning, atmospheric wilderness locations and in-room massages are available at an additional cost.
The accommodation comprises eight spacious, individually designed stone and thatch suites which stylishly combine traditional and contemporary African design. Each suite has a king or twin four poster bed draped with mosquito nets, a comfortable lounge, and an en-suite bathroom with twin basins, WC, bath, and both indoor and outdoor showers. Tranquil alfresco verandas offer super views over a busy waterhole, whilst the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro looms in the distance. All suites also have a stone staircase leading to a private roof terrace equipped with a ‘star bed’ for unforgettable ‘sleep outs’ beneath African skies. Six of the suites have their own private plunge pool, whilst two units have a shared pool.
Children age five years and over are welcome at Ol Donyo, and discounts are offered for under 16s sharing with adults. The camp runs a young explorers programme for children, with activities including bush skills, Maasai fire making, and arts and crafts. Two of the lodge suites interconnect to make a spacious two-bedroom villa, ideal for families or groups. The villa comprises a generous lounge, and one king and one twin bedroom, each with a sleek en-suite bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers. Outside, there’s a swimming pool, and two rooftop terraces equipped with four poster star beds and the viewing deck is perfect for enjoying spectacular sunsets.
We had a great time - even with the flight between Governors and the coast being two flights and a car! We also experienced a power cut At Nairobi airport on the way home so 2+ hours late taking off. Governors. Wonderful people and dealt with the flight delay very well - taking us back and letting us know that we could stay there if the flight was delayed overnight. The game drives were excellent and our guide (Erick) obviously very experienced and managed to find all the key animals - no rhino in that part of the Masai Mara but everything else in abundance - never seen so many herbivores (many many elephants as well as all the others) as well as two prides of lions. Could not have asked for more. The ‘tent’ was excellent and comfortable and well serviced. The only ‘complaint’ would be that the food - especially dinner - could be improved (I think we got a bit bored of soup as a starter for every meal bar one) and the main courses were not at the same level as Kinondo Kwetu and while all were explained there was no choice offered. The breakfasts were just what was needed after an early game drive. Kinondo Kwetu. What a great location and the welcome when we arrived at just gone 11.00pm was better than you could have ever thought possible - they we’re disappointed that we did not at that time want the full dinner experience! The rooms we’re comfortable. The food was excellent but again no choice was offered - other than for allergy reasons (which we do not have). May be some choice would be nice. Having said that the food we did have was excellent as were the wines (albeit a short list!) and other drinks. There were (as you know) lots of facilities/sports options - but we spent our time relaxing which was exactly what we needed and there were lots of places to do that. Overall. We would go back to both places - perhaps a few more nights at Kinondo Kwetu next time but 3 nights at Governors was perfect for us. Thank you for organising and recommending both places. That you and your colleague for trying to find out about the plane (flat tyre) but communication by the flight company left a lot to be desired (Governors were furious that they were not told and had taken us to the airstrip). Phil
Philip R reviewing Masai Mara Safari & Kenya Beach on 01 September 2023
Dear Lisa, We are now back home and had a fantastic time. All the arrangements went seamlessly, transport and hotels were great. Laikipia was amazing, a very personal experience and they did all they could to accommodate everything we wanted to do. The river location was fantastic and ideal for the children as they got to swim in it. It is somewhere we would all like to return to. There might not have been the numbers that you get on the Masai Mara however we got to see lions with cubs, two black leopards, a golden leopard and the wild dogs as well as a huge number of other animals and birds. Thank you for suggesting to stay for 4 nights, it was just the right amount of time. The tamarin Hotel was a good choice as we were able to eat at the Carnivore restaurant which was an experience. Mauritius was lovely and relaxing, just what we needed after a very active time in Laikipia. Accommodation and service was great. Weather was good for most of the time, a few showers over the last couple of days. Thank you once again for organising it all. Sally
Sally M reviewing Laikipia Wilderness and Plains on 11 August 2023
It was a fantastic experience, thanks very much. All the arrangements were seamless and our guiding/support team were excellent, if there is a way for you to formally commend the team to your ground operators then I would be grateful if you could do that, they really were brilliant.
Many thanks for your help in arranging the trip, and for your patience during the multiple re-arrangements over the past couple of years.
Kind regards, John
John B reviewing Mount Kenya Sirimon Naro Moru Trek on 14 November 2022