In the foothills of Mount Kenya, the second highest peak in Africa, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a wonderful safari destination with solid conservation credentials. Pretty much all the activities you do here will support their conservation initiatives – such as protecting the last two northern white rhinos on the planet. Here are five reasons to visit Kenya‘s Ol Pejeta.
1. It’s just a few hours’ drive from Nairobi
One of the best things about Ol Pejeta is its location. In Laikipia County, overlooked by the craggy, snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya, the conservancy is three to four hours’ drive from the Kenyan capital Nairobi. You can self-drive (it’s an easy tarred road most of the way) or book a transfer. For an even quicker journey, you can fly straight to the nearby airstrip.
2. There are a number of camps and lodges to suit any budget
Ol Pejeta has a number of accommodations, from a self-catering campsite to our recommended choice, Asilia’s Ol Pejeta Bush Camp. Bush Camp is set by the river with spacious tents and comfortable beds made snug at night with a hot water bottle. There are bucket showers, which basically means you need to request water before you shower, and flushing toilets. Game drives and all food and drinks are included, whilst Ol Pejeta’s special activities (see below) are extra.
3. Go running with the rangers or horse riding in the wild
Ol Pejeta keeps safari exciting. Start your day with a four- or eight-kilometre run around the conservancy with the anti-poaching rangers who spend each night out in the bush protecting the animals. Or saddle up and ride one of their beautiful horses across the savannah – if you’re a beginner you can ride in the rhino enclosure, where the rhinos and horses have become accustomed to each other.
There are a number of other activities too and all the revenue from these experiences helps the conservancy continue to protect their animals. Of high importance are their rhinos, which includes the last two northern white rhinos, both female; the last male, Sudan, died last year without being able to sire any offspring. Ol Pejeta are working with international researchers to use a southern white rhino as a surrogate for his sperm (neither of the northern females have been able to fall pregnant) and attempt partial continuation of the sub-species. The rhinos are under 24-hour armed guard to protect them from poachers.
4. Kids can play hide and seek with anti-poaching dogs
This is a great destination for children, with a number of activities that will engage them in nature and conservation. Any dog-lover (child or adult) will have fun playing hide and seek with the anti-poaching dogs. Run off with a ranger and hide – up a tree, in a bush – and the dogs will sniff you out. It’s a great way to learn about the training these dogs go through and how essential they are to the security of protected areas.
5. You can adopt a chimpanzee at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Another of conservation project, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary was set up with famed primatologist Jane Goodall in 1993 after a sanctuary in Burundi was forced to close and the chimps needed a new home. There are 39 chimpanzees right now, most rescued from awful situations that include being kept in tiny cages or as pets in cruel conditions. Some of them were orphaned after their mothers were killed or their habitats devastated. Chimpanzees are native to West and Central Africa and their forests are at high risk of being destroyed; the primates are already endangered and at this stage every chimp counts. It costs the sanctuary $4,000 a year to protect one chimp – so donations or adoptions are very welcome.