Once one of the largest cattle ranches in Kenya, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is now a 365sqkm, privately-owned wildlife reserve. It markets itself as the closest place to Nairobi where you can see the Big Five and possesses a full palette of African plains wildlife. It’s also one of the few private conservancies in the region that is geared towards day visitors.
It’s the rhinos that form the centerpiece of the conservancy effort here, its 111 black rhinos form the largest population in East Africa. However, Ol pejeta’s role in the wider ecosystem extends beyond its boundaries thanks to its partner agreements and wildlife corridors with other Laikipia ranches. Ol pejeta is also extremely active in local community projects including school infrastructure, health care, and the provision of clean water.
Endangered Species Enclosure
This 283-hectare drive-through enclosure next to the Morani Information Centre is home to the last three remaining northern white rhinos (one male and two females), an ever-so-close to being extinct subspecies. The rhinos were brought here from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic in 2009, but have not yet bred successfully. Also in the enclosure are the endangered Grevy’s zebra and Jackson’s hartebeest.
Home to 39 profoundly damaged chimpanzees rescued from captivity across Africa and further afield, Ol Pejeta’s Chimp Sanctuary encompasses two large enclosures cut in two by the Ewaso Ngiro River. There are an elevated observation post and keepers are usually on hand to explain a little about each chimp’s backstory; note the tiny replica cage in which one of the chimps was chained for years on end prior to being brought to the sanctuary.
The conservancy has many activities, such as bird walks, guided bush walks, night wildlife viewing, and dog tracks, which you can arrange at the park gate or through your accommodation.
The conservancy is now cashless. You can pre-pay online or via card or bank transfer.
Easily our pick of the activities on offer, this nightly excursion trains you in the art of identifying individual lions and takes you out to find them using radio receivers. The data you gather forms part of the conservancy’s database on Ol pejeta’s estimated 65 to 70 resident lions. The rangers will collect you from your accommodation.
Hippo Hide Walk
This 20-minute meander along the riverbank happens in the company of a knowledgeable local ranger, hopefully, you will see hippos but it’s worth doing even if you don’t. Open today visitors, there is no set schedule for the walks, but you can request one of the standby rangers to take you.
Protected by dense foliage but with good river views, this is probably the pick of the sites in the park center.
Close to the geographical center of the park and overlooking a waterhole, this excellent tented camp has six stylishly furnished tents, an overall air of sophistication and impeccable service. It’s Ol pejeta’s most exclusive accommodation.
Sweetwaters Serena Camp
The 56 large and beautifully appointed en-suite tents by the reliable Serena chain are high-end but with prices that are more accessible than those of other properties. The central location is a plus (handy for most of the conservancy) and a minus (things can get busy around here), depending on your perspective.
Next to the Morani Information Center, this terrific little cafe with outdoor tables serves up excellent dishes that range from the Morani burger made from prime Ol pejeta beef to Kenyan beef stew or a Mediterranean wrap. Fresh juices, fine smoothies and Kenyan coffee round out an excellent package.