Ol Donyo Lodge lies in an extraordinary setting between two of Kenya’s national parks, Tsavo East and Amboseli, in the heart of the Chyulu Hills. Presided over by Mount Kilimanjaro, Chyulu Hills is a place of timeless wild beauty and Masai spiritual life, and has inspired artists, photographers and writers such as Ernest Hemingway. The lodge itself lies on a vast group ranch that is leased from its Masai owners. Set in thick woodland on a hillside with views across the plains, the lodge is so luxurious you’ll find it hard to leave, and the wildlife is even better.


Morning and evening game drives, which always reveal something new and exciting. Giraffe, zebra, huge numbers of antelopes, cheetah and, lion and elephants, especially big tuskers. There are lots of birds too, including the rare grey crowned crane.

Seeing the sights from a saddle. Horseriding safaris are avilable for all guests, novice to professional, as are mountain bike excursions.

Taking a long walks into the mist forests, and descending into the volcanic caverns of the Chyulu Hills to explore the world’s second-longest underground lava tube.

The lodge

The thatched communal area is vast, with a comfortable lounge area hung with beautiful photos of wildlife and views of the real creatures in front. There’s a well-stocked bar, a library with reference books that’ll help you identify the many, many antelope and other species. Sundowners (don’t miss the macadamia chicken canapés) and meals are served on the large veranda or outdoors. There’s a large infinity pool for hot days and a gift shop with beautiful Masai beaded work.

The rooms

Ten thatch-roof suites have views of the waterhole and across the plains to Mount Kilimanjaro. The celings are high throughout and the front walls are glass, with heavy curtains that are drawn at night. There’s a king-sized bed, a coffee-making station and two comfortable chairs facing the waterhole. The en-suite facilities include an indoor and outdoor shower, a bathtub and, in most units, a private plunge pool. The units also have a “star bed” for rooftop sleepouts – a magical experience.

One more thing…

We had an out-of-this-world experience – a suite that fulfilled all our dreams and a ride through a veritable Eden of animals, even a pair of cheetahs, followed by a super-posh bush breakfast under a huge acacia tree. One tip: ask for a room with rooftop sleeping (weather permitting).


  • Cultural
  • Game Drives
  • Horseback safaris
  • Walking safari
  • Bush Walks
  • Night Drives

Take a game drive, go horse- or bike riding, visit the fascinating lava tubes, set off on a walking safari, sleep under the stars and have breakfast and dinner in the bush. Watch the animals from an open-air hide or book a fly-camping adventure. Great Plains works with the local community to protect endangered species and reduce poaching. The lodge may be expensive, but it’s good to know that a percentage of each visitor’s conservancy fee goes to the community.