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01 Mar, 2024
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Ol Pejeta Safari

Ol Pejeta Safari- Article by Gareth Jones

SAFARI AT THE OL PEJETA CONSERVANCY

For many years we heard interesting stories of people going to Ol Pejeta for a few days. So about 3 years ago we eventually decided to go for 2 nights. I went online and looked for accommodation options, on the Ol Pejeta website –www.olpejetaconservancy.org, we thought that staying in the stables looked interesting. So I enquired and managed to secure a booking.

On the day of our departure, we awoke early and packed a few remaining items into our car, then prayed for a safe journey before we left at about 05h00. Soon we headed onto the Thika Highway and headed north towards Nanyuki. One advantage of leaving Nairobi in the very early morning is that traffic jams are avoided. With the new highway, we progressed quite well, and soon we began to feel that we were actually on well on our way to a wonderful long weekend.

After nearly 200km and just under 3 hours of travelling in the early morning, we arrived at the entrance, processed our fees and went on into the park for a morning drive. This privately managed conservancy is a great place for rhino sightings, and we were soon rewarded with a great sighting with Mt Kenya in the background. We enjoyed a number
of sightings including watching a herd of buffalo drinking. We had a delicious brunch at the nearby Morani’s restaurant.

After brunch, we stopped at the rhino gravestones, a place with a headstone for many of the rhino that have died over many years. We were also able to see a Rhino called Sudan, the last male northern white rhino. Sadly in March 2018, he died due to age-related complications, he was 45 years old. Driving onward we arrived at The Stables accommodation in the early afternoon, just in time for a welcoming cup of coffee/tea. The accommodation is quite basic and includes breakfast/lunch/dinner at a reasonable rate. Soon we unpacked and settled into our rondavel to rest for a while. In the late afternoon, we drove to a nearby dam and relaxed as we watched wildlife, especially many types of birds.

The next morning we went out early in the hope of seeing some of the nocturnal creatures and were rewarded when we saw and a pack of hyenas with a few babies at their den near the road. We sat and watched them for some time, as a beautiful sunrise rose over Mt Kenya. Breakfast was ready as we returned to The Stables.

Later in the day, we decided to explore the wilderness area. Please note that 4×4 vehicles are recommended for many tracks and particular care needs to be taken in the wet season to avoid getting stuck in the “black cotton” mud. We drove along the Ewaso Nyiro River and saw a herd of elephants drinking. It appeared to be quite challenging for them due to the steep banks and low water levels, I was especially concerned for the baby elephants. However, we needn’t have worried as the youngsters had worked out their daily drink cycle expertly.

On the return drive, we found a family of warthogs with really tiny piglets that were all continually trying to suckle. The mothers were also hungry and they continued to feed on grass, and therefore kept moving. We also magnificent reticulated giraffe and a number of Jackson’s hartebeest.

We drove slowly and took particular care to look for apex predators on all our game drives. We hoped to maybe see African Wild Dog or maybe cheetah. After lunch, on the last day, we headed out towards the main gate to exit the park. I stopped at a junction to watch some birds. Just then a tour van passed me and said there were 2 lions just 200m away. Sure enough, we found 2 mating lions putting on a “honeymoon” show. It was a great way to end our stay at Ol Pejeta.

The conservancy management continues to make a great contribution to protecting Kenyan wildlife, including endangered species and also some chimpanzees in a separate enclosure. There is very useful information on the Ol Pejeta website regarding activities, wildlife species, birdlife species. Please also note that there are a number of other accommodation alternatives that range from do-it-yourself private campsites to luxury more expensive options.

The only mistake I did make was to not book another night at The Stables. We thought that leaving Nanyuki at 14h00 would allow for ample time to get back to Nairobi. How mistaken I was, heavy traffic was already at virtual standstill at Karatina and continued all the way to Nairobi. Eventually to escaped the main traffic jam madness by using the ring road around the city and arrived home safely at about 20h00. After a 6 hour 200km journey, another night at The Stables would have been a better option, and then drive back to Nairobi the next morning. Overall we had a great time and would definitely recommend Ol Pejeta as a place to visit.

 

Ol Pejeta Safari
Gareth Jones – Nairobi Park Dairy – A passionate writer & photographer