Ol Donyo Wuas, Kenya – Great Plains Conservation

By Jean Campbell
Slicing through the warm wind, my horse galloped across the same plains claimed by Hemingway as well as others who walked there before him.  There was no particular destination; just the ability to run free, that was the only prize I sought.  Alone with nature; I was unafraid and unfettered by the constraints of daily life, the experience was exhilarating and exciting…..

Okay, so let’s be honest, it didn’t happen quite like that!  There were eight of us, we had all been given careful instruction before we started, our horses were walking in a lose formation together, there was no wind, and we did have a destination in mind, it was a lovely bush breakfast….but still it was exhilarating and exciting.

We were enjoying two wonderful nights at Ol Donyo Wuas, located in the heart of the 275,000 acre Mbirikani Group Ranch, on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills National Park between the Amboseli and Tsavo West National Parks in southeast Kenya.  One of the activities offered there is this horse riding excursion.  To the experienced “horse” person, our experience might be seen as lame, but for the rest of us it was wonderful to be out in the brush, the game glancing at us with only minimal interest.  Being in the company of the giraffe as they munched on the acacia thorn was exciting and exhilarating, how could it not be?  Just watching these magnificent undulates “do their thing” is like looking into another world where the animals are just too magnificent to have been imagined.  Their beautiful faces are so special, and to be right there watching them eat undisturbed was such a peaceful and special experience.

For those who are experienced riders, they could experience something closer to my opening paragraph.  Ride Kenya operates superb 5 and 7 night horse safaris from the lodge (and longer trips can be customized).  I can completely see the appeal of taking such a trip (I would have to brush up on my equestrian skills for a few years first); it really would be a glorious feeling to be an experienced rider enjoying the wonders of a safari of this type.   The horses were in great shape, and the Ride Kenya staff were experienced and conscientious and a pleasure to be around.

We returned to the lodge later, and enjoyed the beautiful facilities of our rooms and the camp, as well as the lovely staff and management; again they were a pleasure to be around, and really that’s what made the stay at any lodge so enjoyable.  This lodge is a beautiful respite to be enjoyed best at the beginning or end of an itinerary when game viewing may not be primary goal, but instead other activities can be enjoyed as well as some game viewing.  In addition to horseback riding we had a great afternoon of biking (the bikes have been well used, so this is not your state of the art bikes that some may be used to), and another spent hiking (the heat wore me down on that one).  At the end of each day we ended the activity with beautiful views as we toasted the sunsets with our “sundowners”.  I cannot close without mentioning the “star beds”.  What better way to end a day than to be blanketed by a breathtaking sky full of stars just before you close your eyes!

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