Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 360 km2 wildlife reserve that lies on the equator, west of Nanyuki town, between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya. Formerly a cattle ranch owned by Lord Delamere, Ol Pejeta Conservancy extends over 140 sq miles of semiarid grassland and acacia thornbush flanking the upper reaches of the Ewaso Nyiro river in southern Laikipia. It was first established as a conservancy in 1988, and is now home to all the Big Five and a staggering population of over 10,000 large mammals. It has the highest ratio of animal to area of any park or reserve in Kenya. Lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, black rhino, reticulated giraffe and elephant are present, while a varied selection of antelope includes the local ized gerenuk and Beisa oryx. More than 500 bird species have also been recorded.
It was established in 2004 as a private partnership between the Kenyan government, private investors, and conservation organizations. The conservancy’s mission is to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes, and generate income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprises for re-investment in conservation and community development.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is one of the most diverse and scenic wildlife destinations in Kenya. It boasts the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, with over 100 individuals. It also houses the last two remaining northern white rhinos in the world, Najin and Fatu, who were moved there from a zoo in Czech Republic in 2009. You can visit them at their enclosure and learn more about their plight and the efforts to save their species.
The conservancy is also home to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, which provides a haven for orphaned, abandoned, and rescued chimpanzees. It is the only place in Kenya where you can see these primates. You can observe them from a platform or join a guided walk to meet some of them up close.
Besides rhinos and chimps, Ol Pejeta Conservancy hosts a variety of other wildlife, including the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), as well as cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, and more. You can enjoy game drives, night drives, bush walks, lion tracking, dog tracking, cycling safaris, horse riding safaris, and more. You can also visit some of the attractions within the conservancy, such as the Morani Center (an interactive museum), the Baraka Rhino Memorial (a tribute to a famous black rhino), the Equator Sign (a photo opportunity), and the Ol Pejeta Nature Trail (a scenic walk).
When is the best time to visit Ol Pejeta Conservancy?
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is open all year round and offers different experiences depending on the season. The dry season (June to October) is ideal for wildlife viewing as animals congregate around water sources and vegetation is sparse. The wet season (November to May) is good for birdwatching as migratory birds arrive and resident birds breed. The rainy months (April and May) may cause some roads to be muddy and slippery but also bring out lush greenery and wildflowers.
Where can you stay in Ol Pejeta Conservancy?
Ol Pejeta Conservancy has a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. You can choose from tented camps, lodges, cottages, homestays, or camping sites. Some of the popular places to stay are:
- Kicheche Laikipia Camp: A luxury tented camp with six spacious tents overlooking a waterhole.
- Mutara Camp: A boutique camp with 15 tents set on a hill with panoramic views of Mount Kenya.
- Ol Pejeta Bush Camp: A rustic camp with six tents on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River.
- Ol Pejeta Safari Cottages: A collection of four cottages with private gardens and verandas.
- Pelican House: A self-catering house with three bedrooms and a large living area.
- Porini Rhino Camp: An eco-friendly camp with seven tents in a secluded valley.
- Sanctuary Tambarare: A stylish lodge with 10 rooms and a swimming pool.
- Sweetwaters Serena Camp: A colonial-style camp with 56 tents overlooking a waterhole and a view of Mount Kenya.
- The Stables: A budget-friendly option with 64 beds in dormitories and cottages.
How can you get to Ol Pejeta Conservancy?
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is easily accessible by road or air. By road, it is about a four-hour drive from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. You can either hire a car, join a tour, or use public transport (matatus or buses) to Nanyuki town and then take a taxi to the conservancy. By air, you can fly to Nanyuki airstrip, which is about 20 minutes away from the conservancy. There are daily flights from Nairobi and other major towns in Kenya. You can then arrange for a transfer from the airstrip to your accommodation.