10 Reasons to visit Ol Donyo Wuas Lodge

1.The lodge is located in one of the most spectacular and scenic locations in all of East Africa with Mount Kilimanjaro as one of the focal points, in a wildlife area that is one of the few in Kenya where all of the “Big 5” can be found running free and wild.

2. The lodge is the only safari lodge located on the 275,000 acre Mbirikani Group Ranch, offering the Amboseli experience, but without the crowds and without minibuses.

3. The lodge is over two decades old, but was completely rebuilt in 2008 to cater for 21st century travellers. The new lodge and facilities are arguably the most impressive in all of Kenya.

4. The lodge is one of a very few in Africa to offer your own private “villa” experience – your own lodge-within-a-lodge. These two bed roomed villas have their own private lounge and swimming pool. They have been designed for those who demand that extra privacy. These villas are perfect too for families who require that their children are under the same roof, at the same time affording parents their privacy. Special children’s safari activities are offered to keep them stimulated and active while affording their parents peace and romance.

5. The lodge has an all-inclusive tariff regarding all activities, all meals, all local drinks and house wines and laundry are included in the fare.

6. Ol Donyo Wuas probably offers the largest selection of activities in all of Africa. Included are game drives in 4×4 Land cruisers; night drives; walks with armed guides; half and full-day horse safaris (with a choice of over 20 quality horses that suit both advanced and novice riders); mountain biking on the open plains; close-up, safe, elephant experiences in the lodges open-air “log-jam’ hide; sleep-outs on the Kopjes at “Seduction Rock”; romantic star-bed sleep-outs on your rooftop; bush breakfasts; dinners under the stars, authentic Maasai cultural visits; tracking with bloodhounds, massages and much much more.

7. The lodge’s community outreach programme, managed through The Maasailand Preservation Trust, is one of the most comprehensive in all of Africa. ODW’s pioneering and successful “Predator Compensation Scheme” has stopped the retaliatory killing of lions throughout the area and has now been extended to cover the region around Amboseli Reserve, even though our guests seldom have need to visit the reserve.

8. The Maasailand Preservation Trust employs and deploys over 100 game scouts that patrol the region, one of the reasons why the Lodge’s enormous 80 to 100 pounder tuskers are alive and thriving today.

9. The lodge is in its final stages of negotiations with the Maasai community to create a 23,000 acre wildlife conservancy around the lodge with the lease payments for this conservancy being paid directly to our Maasai stakeholders out of our bed night revenues.

10. Easy and reliable daily air-access from Nairobi to the lodge’s own private airfield, with convenient onward connections to the Masai Mara, Laikipia and elsewhere.

After 21 years, Ol Donyo Wuas’ legs were weary, and it was time to give her bit of an overhaul. Instead of a refurbishment, it was decided to give her a whole new physique. At the end of 2007, the original Ol Donyo Wuas was torn down, and over the next 10 months, the new Ol Donyo Wuas came to life.

Upon opening in July 2008, the immediate feedback was outstanding. The high season was filled with guests soaking up Ol Donyo Wuas’ new energy. And she had plenty to give; the season was a huge success. The reviews have stayed consistent, with high distinction across the industry.

The new Ol Donyo Wuas Lodge consists of ten expansive guest suites in six stand-alone villas. No two is the same design – each suite and villa is designed and positioned slightly differently but all have a dramatic view of the plains and Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance. The décor is luxurious and opulent, while still retaining the atmosphere and sense of place that is an essential ingredient of an outstanding bush lodge. Art from around Africa coupled with the photography of Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher create a commanding space under the high thatch roofs surrounded by cool stonewalls. The design is contemporary and yet traditional.

Each suite has a rooftop “star-bed” accessed from the verandah via a winding stone staircase. The “star-beds” are a fabulous sleep-out option, with utter privacy and all the amenities of the suite just below.

Each suite has a lounge, verandah, indoor and outdoor showers, double washbasins, flush loo and bath. All but two of the suites have their own private pool(s).

The four-bedded private villas are ideal for families or small groups of friends. They are designed to be versatile and function either as family villas or for two couples while still maintaining an element of privacy. Some of the villas function as a private bush home.

“I confess, I had envisaged heading into the bush as soon as I arrived but I jettisoned this plan, having been seduced by my cottage. Accommodation at Ol Donyo Wuas is in double thatched cottages; mine, Kushoto (El Mau), turned out to be a palatial home on stilts, the bedroom alone the size of my little London flat.”

Laura Bailey, the Sunday Telegraph

“I have just returned from Ol Donyo Wuas, a beautiful lodge in Kenya’s Chyulu Hills, located between Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks. This is a property which we have used for a long time and it is now better than ever having been completely rebuilt. The rooms’ views are incredible overlooking endless plains with a backdrop of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which currently has a good covering of snow. I spent quite a bit of time in a hide overlooking a waterhole – each day several fabulous old gentlemen bull elephants (with huge tusks!) would amble by within feet of us to splash around in the water… it was a breathtaking experience.

I also took advantage of the horseback riding from Ol Donyo Wuas, offered by Patrick and Nicola, where we were able to ride “close up and personal” with beautiful giraffe and less close up and personal with elephants – it is something else again to see these magnificent animals from horseback. Patrick and Nicola, who operate the horseback safaris, have a stable full of beautiful, well mannered and well trained horses and offer day rides or anything up to a six day ride across the reserve and through the Amboseli area – this is something I highly recommend for horseback enthusiasts.

The riding terrain is perfect. Ol Donyo Wuas , beautifully managed and hosted by Anton, Emma and Sissa, offers a variety of adventures (aside from the horseback riding) which include mountain biking, walking with a fantastic tracker, picnicking in the verdant hills, game drives to enjoy the wildlife – or perhaps just lazing the afternoon away at ones very private and personal plunge pool! An option I did take advantage of followed by a relaxing massage (someone has to do it!!). “- Ann

Activities at Ol Donyo Wuas Lodge

While it is tempting to laze around the lovely suites, and bask in the sun next to the pool, the diverse activities at Ol Donyo Wuas are equally as alluring. There is arguably no other lodge in Africa with this wide a range of options for the safari enthusiast.

Wildlife viewing

Over 7,000 wild animals find their habitat in and around the Ol Donyo Wuas environs. Not only are the “Big Five” here – rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo – but also cheetah, Fringe-eared oryx, gerenuk, and giraffe among many others share this diverse landscape. Guests are able to track wildlife by vehicle, foot, or horseback. And night drives are featured for those interested in spotting the more elusive nocturnal species.

The real exclusivity of Ol Donyo Wuas is apparent when out exploring the land. The entire area is reserved exclusively for Ol Donyo Wuas guests – no other tourists, no fleets of mini-buses – it’s private, pure and wild. Each day is different, there is no set routine. It’s there for the making – a safari of the guest’s design.

The “Log-Jam” Hide

Imagine being at eye-level with one of Ol Donyo Wuas’ 100-pound tusker elephants, or looking at the knobby knees of a giraffe, all while sitting peacefully and absorbing the intimacy of this precious moment. It is a privilege.

This is Ol Donyo Wuas’ “log-jam” hide, a mass of heavy logs piled about five feet high and 3 feet thick, where guests are able to safely view wildlife at exceptionally close range at the lodge’s waterhole. After a visit to the hide, guests learn so much about the wildlife, and elephants in particular, as they are able to watch interactions and movements closely. It is almost like briefly being a part of the herd.

The “log-jam” hide, located just a short walk from the lodge’s main area, can be a short activity at mid-day, or it can be a full half-day activity.


Each suite has an outdoor bedroom above the villa. It is accessed via a set of winding stairs, which open to large deck with an outdoor bed, and seating. Guests can, on request, have the upstairs set up for a sleep out under the stars. The bed is appointed with lovely linen, bedside tables with lamps and a romantic mosquito net. The area can also be used as an additional lounge or deck.

Ride Kenya

The Chyulu Hills and its diverse ecosystem lend itself perfectly to horseback safaris. From the mist forests, to the open plains, to the dense woodland, a horse navigates the landscape gracefully. To come along for the ride, and experience wildlife on horseback, is an experience not to be missed. Our team of 20 horses – ranging in size, and for different riders – takes guests safely through the ranch with excellent prowess. Many guests who are familiar with excellent horseback safaris elsewhere in Africa have stated, “This is the best horse riding country in Africa.”

We take pride in the training and care of our horses and have safaris for all levels. For guests of the lodge, horseback safaris are a full half-day activity. Guests interested in overnight or multi-day horseback safaris should reference the Ride Kenya website where these safaris are on offer: www.ridekenya.com or www.letsgokenya.com


There is no doubt that al fresco lunches on the verandah and or candlelit dinners in the dining room are wonderful, but we also enjoy hosting breakfasts and dinners under the African sky; or surprise sundowners and classic English tea in the romantic setting of the bush.


We offer an in-room massage service. It is subject to additional cost.

Mountain Biking

This pioneering activity is new to Ol Donyo Wuas. Join us on this exploratory activity on the plains, where guests bike across the savannahs with an armed guide and enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of adventure.


In addition to the tracking and walking associated specifically with wildlife viewing, the Mbirikani Group Ranch features an incredible diversity of habitats. Perhaps the most unique is the high-altitude mist forest, where leopard and rhino lurk, and an incredible amount of biodiversity is present. It is a microcosm, unlike any other area of the ranch. A hike to this area, from the lodge, is very rewarding.

Day trips to Amboseli

Our proximity to Amboseli National Park gives the opportunity for full day excursions to the park. Guests depart the lodge after breakfast for a leisurely drive across the plains and through small villages. We usually arrive at the park in the mid-morning and depart in the mid-afternoon. We have selected this time of day as it coincides with the time when the guests from the large lodges are on siesta, and vehicle density is at its lowest. This is also the time when the elephant and plains game congregate around the waterways and marshes in high density.

This excursion can only be guaranteed in advance, please book it at the time of reservation. It is subject to additional cost.

We operate where possible on an all-inclusive tariff where everything at the lodge is included. The exceptions to this are the Amboseli excursion and the Amboseli Park entry fees and massages. The Maasai villagers will charge individuals for having their photos taken, but the cost of getting there is included in the tariff.

Ol Donyo Wuas Lodge and the Maasai Culture

The Maasai of the Mbirikani Group Ranch are as natural a part of the area as the wildlife. After years as partners on the land, Richard & Tara Bonham have a very unique ‘second home’ with the Maasai. Guests are able to visit the Maasai villages on the ranch, without a sense of voyeurism. It is an authentic experience, giving guests insight into the culture and traditions of the Maasai. It is often a highlight of the stay at Ol Donyo Wuas. The Maasai do charge guests for taking photos.


Ol Donyo Wuas is in the 275,000 acre Maasai-owned Mbirikani Group Ranch located between Amboseli, Chyulu, Tsavo and Kilimanjaro National Parks. The lodge is nestled in the western foothills of the Chyulu Hills range, overlooking Mt. Kilimanjaro with quintessential African savannah and flat top acacia trees in the foreground.

There are two ways to access Ol Donyo Wuas:

Safarilink daily scheduled flights between Nairobi’s Wilson (regional) airport and Ol Donyo Wuas’ private airstrip. Flights leave Nairobi at 7:30am and arrives Ol Donyo Wuas at approximately 8:20am. The return flights depart Ol Donyo Wuas at approximately 8:30am and arrive Nairobi at 9:40am in time to connect with onward flights to the Maasai Mara and other destinations in Kenya. The aircraft serving this route is a 10-seater Cessna Caravan.

Private charters to Ol Donyo Wuas’ private airstrip. This is a good option if the Safarilink schedule is not convenient. By flight, Ol Donyo Wuas is one hour from Nairobi and 1 hour 15 minutes from the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Due to these relatively short distances, the flights are not an exorbitant price.

The Ol Donyo Wuas airstrip is grass and just over a kilometre in length. It can handle aircraft to the size of a Cessna Caravan, Pilatus PC12 and even a Beechcraft King Air.

The airstrip coordinates are S2.31.43 and E37.43.53.

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Source by Alphaxad