Ol Donyo Lodge
Chyulu Hills, Kenya - Premier 5
Ol Donyo Lodge is located on the Maasai-owned Mbirikani Group Ranch, comprising of 275,000 acres of wilderness between Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks and bordering Chyulu Hills National Park. This stunningly beautiful area is incredibly diverse, and often has spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro. No other lodge in Africa offers such a wide range of experiences, in such a private setting. Kenya's first Relais & Chateaux lodge is perched on a hillside, with East Africa's classic savannahs below.
The 20-bed lodge is a harmonious blend of contemporary and rustic, merging the landscape into each suite. Designed for a wide appeal, the lodge is a perfect getaway for families, honeymooners or multi-generational groups. What makes it a standout is its notable variety of activities - from cultural visits, good quality wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking - ol Donyo Lodge is a place to feel Africa, and get out from behind the wheel. Add to this the lodge's creature comforts of fine dining, massage, infinity pool, star beds and multiple lounges, and it is a place to relax and unwind for days. Wildlife is here, but this semi-arid region does not host the volumes of the Masai Mara area, so the lodge is best paired with our sister properties there, Mara Plains and Mara Toto Camps. Together, this combination gives guests the most well-rounded and complementary Kenya itinerary.
No two of the lodge's ten suites is exactly the same, but what is consistent is the view to Mt. Kilimanjaro and the lodge's famous waterhole as well as star beds atop each of the suites for sleeping under the stars. Eight of the lodge's ten suites have private plunge pools, and two are connected for a 'villa' concept, perfect for families or couples traveling together. Constructed of local thatch and gunnite, the suites blend with the environment despite their commanding design. Flashes of bright color interspersed with earthy tones, wildlife photography and local crafts punctuate the open-air layout.
The lodge's main lounge, complete with grand stone fireplace, a small library, inviting open bar and expansive verandah are the place to rendezvous with new friends, and the local staff. The attached dining area as well as the nearby pool lounge/dining is where sumptuous meals are served, and good times abound. The main infinity pool, curio shop and office provide other diversions should exploring the area not be enough.
Most of the lodge staff is from the local Maasai community and keen to share their fascinating culture with guests - it is a treasured chance to learn. Furthermore, the Mbirikani Group Ranch and ol Donyo Lodge are one of the first examples of a community tourism partnership, whereby land is leased from the Maasai by the lodge, providing the Maasai with benefits from tourism and an incentive for conservation. The lodge, and its conservation partner Big Life Foundation, led by Richard Bonham, continues to push the boundaries in innovative community conservation schemes. Every guest of ol Donyo Lodge contributes to these vital initiatives.