Riding from Ol Donyo Lodge
Nestled in the foothills of the Chyulu Hills, this is the only lodge on the 300,000 acre Mbirikani Ranch. This gives you exclusive access to one of the last remaining true wilderness areas of Kenya. You are likely to encounter a large proportion of the 38 species of large game found on the ranch, including the Big Five.
You generally ride out twice a day, with a longer ride in the morning. Then back for lunch at the lodge.
You may also want to do some of the non riding activities available.
Every guest has their daily itinerary designed to suit them with as much or as little riding as they would like. Below is an example of what you can expect during a typical 5 night stay:
Upon arrival at Ol Donyo airstrip at mid-day, enjoy a short game drive en route to the lodge. You will have some time to relax, swim, unpack and enjoy lunch. This afternoon you will have your first horse ride. Once at the stables, you will meet the horses and guides. Each rider is given a brief assessment in the outdoor arena, to make sure they are comfortable and happy with the horse they have been given and have the correct ability for riding with big game. Once the assessment is over, you set out off from the stables on a ride designed to introduce you to your horse and the local ecosystem. You will pass through thick Acacia forest, and out onto the savannah. Expect to ride at a variety of speeds and to see game such as giraffe, impala, elephant, warthog and gazelle.
Then head back to the lodge for sundowners.
This morning enjoy a journey up into the hills behind the lodge. You will take your horses up to the top of ‘Ol Donyo Wuas’ a beautiful tree-covered hill behind the lodge that affords magnificent views of the whole area. This is a four-hour ride, so a packed breakfast will be carried in saddle-bags. Expect to see large bull elephant, eland, impala and giraffe en route to the summit.
After such an active morning, those that wish to horse ride again are welcome to go for a short evening ride.
Those looking for relaxation can enjoy a massage at the lodge, followed by an afternoon at the ‘blind’ near the lodge waterholes. Hidden within the log-jam, you can watch wildlife coming in for their evening drink; from elephant, to cheetah, giraffe, warthog, jackal and much more. Early supper followed by a night drive, to go in search of nocturnal wildlife.
You leave the stables early in the morning for a long ride through the woodland, across the savannah and beyond. Enjoy stopping for a delicious cooked breakfast under a large acacia tree whilst the horses graze.
This afternoon ride towards Crater Camp, this is a two hour ride up into the Chyulu Hills themselves, reaching a secluded campsite that is nestled into a cedar forest next to a large volcanic crater.
Non-riders leave Ol Donyo by vehicle, arriving in the camp in time to climb the nearby volcanic crater in pursuit of the very rare Verreaux’s Eagle which nests in the nearly inaccessible rocky outcrops at the rim. Later you may all choose to explore the lava tubes under the crater, which lies within walking distance of the camp. These jagged caves stretch for miles as they lead away from the crater and have been used for generations of hunter-gatherers as shelter.
Enjoy sunset together in this spectacular campsite, before settling down for an evening by the fire, enjoying bush stories and sounds of the wild. Accommodation this evening is in comfortable bell tents, with bedrolls, and hot showers are provided.
Today you will ascend another 2,000 feet higher into the Chyulu Hills. A noticeable change in climate and temperature occurs as you reach over 7,000 feet above sea level. The ride is dominated by incredible views of the vast wildernesses of Tsavo East National park to the east and Mount Kilimanjaro and Amboseli national park to the west.
Due to the altitude of the area, clouds often sit on the top of the Chyulu Hills. This consistent moisture has given rise to miniature jungles, or mist forests that dot the summits of the hills. Today’s ride takes about four hours and ends at one of the largest mist forests in the hills.
After a sumptuous picnic, you have a chance to enter the mist forests on foot, in pursuit of the buffalo, leopard, syke’s monkey and giant forest hog that reside within it.
For those that wish to return to the lodge tonight, a drive out of the hills, via a different route to the ascent is suggested. The route passes local subsistence farming communities, as well as thick tongues of volcanic lava containing much interesting flora and fauna.
For those wishing to camp again, this can be arranged at crater camp once more and horses can be ridden back to the camp in the late afternoon.
Following a cooked breakfast in camp, those who camped last night return to the lodge on horseback, or in the vehicle. Before breakfast, there is one last chance to either climb the volcanic crater or explore the lava tube caves below it.
For those who returned to Ol Donyo last night, this morning is free to choose any activity on offer; from a visit to a local Maasai village, to a game drive, or bush walk.
Later this afternoon, head out for a game drive and enjoy ‘sundowners’ together. A suggested location is a stunning rocky outcrop to the west of the lodge, where you can watch the sunset.
After a final early morning ride, enjoy a late brunch (flight times permitting) and then depart by plane, to Wilson Airport.