Last year we lost Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, leaving only two females remaining in the world. However, the people at Ol Pejeta Conservancy are dedicated to protecting those two rhinos, not to mention rescuing chimpanzees from circuses and other unpleasant situations. This post takes you on a tour of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, looking at their various projects, as well as the practicalities of how you can visit.
Located three kilometres south of Nanyuki, Ol Pejeta is one of many conservancies in the Laikipia region. Conservancies are privately owned (as opposed to National Parks which are government-owned) and usually come about as ranchers set aside a part of their farm for conservation purposes. The vegetation is allowed to grow naturally and wild animals come to these safe havens away from human habitat encroachment. Ol Pejeta also works closely with the community, establishing a school and helping other farmers in the area with sustainable farming techniques and human-wildlife conflict.
What to do in the conservancy
As with other game parks, the most common activity is to go on game drives through the conservancy. Lions, waterbucks, (southern) white and black rhinos, leopards, hippos, topi and other antelopes can all be found at Ol Pejeta. There are two specific places however, that make Ol Pejeta unique: the Endangered Animals Enclosure and the Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
The Endangered Animals Enclosure is where you will find the two Northern White Rhinos pondering the demise of their kind. Together with other stakeholders, Ol Pejeta is raising funds to attempt IVF for the female Northern White Rhinos. The rhinos are aging however, so it’s a race against time and increasingly it looks like they will have to use a southern white rhino as a surrogate. Recently, the conservancy started to offer horse rides through the Endangered Animals Enclosure, adding another level of excitement to visitors’ experience of the conservancy.
The Chimpanzee Sanctuary is the only place in Kenya where you can see chimps. The chimpanzees have all been rescued from abusive situations whether they were in a circus or kept as pets or other entertainment. As a result, they can be a little unfriendly, but after some time getting to know their new family and adapting back to the wild they settle into their new life. The first time I visited, one chimp seemed to be carrying a lot of anger and was throwing sticks at visitors – fortunately there’s a fence between humans and animals. But his aggressive behaviour was indicative of the circumstances he had lived in before coming to Ol Pejeta. A ranger will take you on a guided walk around the sanctuary and tell you about some of the chimps – they have names and each has its own story.
There are several accommodation options within the conservancy ranging from the luxurious to the basic. There are three public campsites that require you to bring all your own food, tents, cooking equipment and carry your rubbish out. They supply firewood and will dig a toilet if you book in advance. No showers though. The largest lodging is Serena Sweet Waters Camp; a luxurious tented camp arced around a large waterhole. The tents are spacious with en suite bathrooms and four-poster beds. Meals are buffet-style and the dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the waterhole – dinner AND a show! Pelican House is a self-catering guesthouse perfect for families and small groups to rent exclusively. The Stables are a budget accommodation with full service while at the other end of the spectrum is Ol Pejeta Safari Cottages, Kicheche Laikipia Camp and Porini Rhino Camp.
For those interested in spending a longer amount of time to learn more about the conservation and community work of the conservancy, two-week volunteer programs are available. They also have a Junior Ranger program for children aged 4-12 years, making this conservancy one of the most family-friendly in Kenya.
Ol Pejeta is about a four-hour drive north of Nairobi on a decent highway. The last 20 kilometres is on a dirt road from the highway to the entrance gate. If time is limited, you might prefer to fly from Nairobi to Nanyuki from where your accommodation in Ol Pejeta can arrange a pick up.
Would you like to visit Ol Pejeta? Get in touch with us at OTA to organise your visit, either as part of a longer safari or as a special weekend away. We recommend at least two nights if Ol Pejeta is to be your only safari destination, but it also makes a great overnight stop on the way to Samburu National Reserve. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to start planning this exotic safari experience.