Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a non profit wildlife sanctuary, located in the center of Laikipia county. The 360 square kilometer conservancy sits on the equator on the Western Part of Nanyuki is positioned between foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya.
This sanctuary exists to conserve wildlife including: Big 5 (Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffaloes, Rhinos) and other wildlife, apes, among others, which together promote tourism, where income is produced. Part of the income is also used for conservation and development of the surrounding communities to aid health, education, water and infrastructure projects. Besides, the conservancy also supports a triumphant livestock program, which supports the well being of local pastoralists and wildlife.
The renown Sweetwater’s Chimpanzee Sanctuary, is also found inside ol Pejeta Conservancy. It’s a home that protects the orphaned, rescued and abandoned chimpanzees in Kenya. Sweetwater’s is Kenya’s only hope for chimpanzees since it doesn’t have any destination.
Apart from the Big 5, Ol Pejeta is also famous for Chimpanzees and its last 2 world’s remaining Northern white Rhinos (who were moved there from Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic), over 100 black Rhinos.
Getting to Olpejeta Conservancy
If you are coming from Nairobi, the drive will take you about 3-4 hours. The road from Nairobi to Nanyuki is tarmacked although there are parts under construction with the new dual carriage set to reduce the drive to less than 3 hours in the future. Keep in mind that the last 13 kilometers to Ol Pejeta is a well-maintained all-weather road.
From Nakuru/ Naivasha, use the Nyahururu and Nyeri route to enter Ol Pejeta through Nanyuki. About 6.5km after the Nanyuki airstrip, there is a sign to Ol Pejeta on the left, and it is labeled all the way to Rongai Gate. 4×4 vehicles are essential in the rainy season. Note that the road around the west and north of the Conservancy is only practicable with a large 4WD in wet conditions.
The main gate into Ol Pejeta for visitors is the Rongai gate to the east of the Conservancy, which lies at the end of the road from Nanyuki town. Visitors can also enter via Serat Gate on Rumuruti Road.
There are daily scheduled flights from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Nanyuki airstrip, which is a 45 minute drive from Ol Pejeta. Air Kenya and Safarilink both offer services to Nanyuki from Nairobi. All accommodation providers on Ol Pejeta can arrange a transfer to and from the airstrip. It is also possible to charter a flight from any other wildlife conservancy or airstrip, into Ol Pejeta’s airstrip (currently only open to charter flights).
Nairobi is one of the biggest transport hubs on the continent. International flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Most domestic flights, including flights to Nanyuki, leave from Wilson Airport (WIL).
It is important to check your visa requirements before entering into Kenya.
Best time to visit Olpejeta Conservancy
The best time to visit Ol Pejeta is in Kenya’s dry seasons, from June to September (cool and dry) or January to February (hot and dry, but nice and green).
Due to the high altitude, Ol Pejeta experiences a mild climate. Temperatures are fairly constant all year – daytime temperatures are in the mid-twenties, while nights are cooler. Warm clothes for game drives are essentia
The best time to visit Ol Pejeta is in Kenya’s dry seasons, from June to September (cool and dry) or January to February (hot and dry, but nice and green). October is also a good time to visit when prices are lower – you may experience a little rain, but it shouldn’t be too much.
The cheapest time to visit is the rainy season in April and May when most of the luxury camps lower their rates by quite a lot, although some close at this time. During the rainy seasons, you will need a 4×4, especially if you are planning to do safaris in your own car.
June to September –Dry Season
Mostly sunny and there is little rain
Best time for wildlife viewing as water sources attract a steady flow of animals
Vegetation is thinner and visibility of animals is better
Roads are in good condition
The reserve gets quite busy
Dust in the sky reduces visibility and the scenery is less spectacular
October to May –Wet Season
The reserve is less busy and low season rates might apply
Outstanding bird watching with migratory birds present
Newborn animals are readily seen
Scenery is lush and clear skies offer stunning views of Mount Kenya on cloudless days
Smaller animals are difficult to spot in the long grass
Road conditions can be bad and a strong 4×4 is required
Rain can interfere with game drives
Some lodges close in April and/or May
Activities in Ol Pejeta
In addition to the game drives, walks and sundowners, which are all included at Porini Rhino Camp, guests enjoy the following unique activities within Ol Pejeta Conservancy:
Meet Baraka the Black Rhino
BarakaBaraka was one of the first rhinos born on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. After losing an eye to an infection following a fight he unfortunately developed a cataract in the other eye and subsequently became completely blind. With a low chance of survival on his own, Baraka was moved from the wild to a 100 acre enclosure in order to ensure his safety.
Baraka is now an ambassador for his species – and a popular attraction at Ol Pejeta. There is a feeding platform from which visitors can get up close to view and feed him, an experience not to be missed. Baraka receives visitors daily from 9.30am to 6.00pm, with feeding times three times per day.
The cost of the visit to Baraka and the Information Center is already included within the Conservancy Fee.
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Chimpanzee SanctuaryFormed in 1993 as a joint alliance between The Jane Goodall Institute and Kenyan Wildlife Services this sanctuary was established as a refuge for orphaned and confiscated chimpanzees and is the only place in Kenya where non-indigenous chimpanzees can be seen.
The Sanctuary provides a permanent refuge in as natural environment as possible – the 40 or so chimpanzees are protected on an island and access to see them is by boat.
NB Porini Rhino Camp guests gain priority access to the Sanctuary from 9am (before guests of other camps arrive from 10am).
The cost of a visit to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary is already included within the Conservancy fee.
Morani Information Center
morani-information-center2The Morani Information Center offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the different wildlife species that live on Ol Pejeta; from anatomy to behaviour to habitat. It also offers an insight into how Ol Pejeta Conservancy works on a daily basis to safeguard wildlife and preserve wilderness.
There is also a converted rhino transportation crate to explore!
The Morani Center is open from 9 to 5 every day and is free of charge.
The following optional activities in Ol Pejeta can be pre-booked, and income from these activities contributes to the Conservancy’s running costs:
Ol Pejeta Endangered Species Boma
Endangered Species BomaThe Endangered Species Boma is a must-see for any trip to Ol Pejeta. Here visitors can meet and learn about the Northern White Rhinos which are critically endangered with only two left in the world. All of them are here and visitors can have the unique experience of seeing these majestic creatures up close. The boma also has six southern white rhinos, two black rhinos and numerous Grevy’s zebras and Jackson’s hartebeest. Tour starts at 2.45 pm. Approximately 2 hours.
3rd Jan – 8th Aug 2023 – US $60 per adult and $30 Per child (aged up to 11 years).
9th Aug Onwards – US $70 per adult and $35 Per child
*A $60 supplement is applicable for transport within the boma, per vehicle.
Lion TrackingTake this unique opportunity to head out on Ol Pejeta Conservancy to track the lion population. It is a great way to support the conservation project and to learn more about these fascinating animals. All of the information gathered is passed on to the Ol Pejeta Ecological Monitoring Department. Guests remain in the vehicle at all times. Tracking excursions depart daily between 06:30h – 09:30h and 15:30h – 18:30h.
3rd Jan – 8th Aug 2023 – US $60 per adult and $30 Per child (aged up to 11 years).9th Aug Onwards – US $70 per adult and $35 Per child
Riding with Rhinos
Take a morning or an evening ride within the 600-acre Endangered Species Enclosure, accompanied by knowledgeable staff on Ol Pejeta’s safari horses. These rides will take you on a journey through a predator-free area set aside by Ol Pejeta for the recovery of the northern white rhinoceros. As well as meeting the last three remaining northern white rhinos on the planet, you will ride through herds of the highly endangered Grevy’s zebra and Jackson’s hartebeest. You will also encounter many other species including southern white rhinos and a myriad of plains game. Morning and evening rides will conclude with tea and cake at the nearby Morani’s Restaurant.
The rides will only be open to experienced riders and some proof of riding ability will be required at point of booking; clients judged to be of insufficient riding ability will not be permitted to undertake this activity.
Ol Pejeta will supply all tack and riding hats; clients will be responsible for their own attire. We recommend that legs and arms are covered.
Rides for up to 4 riders will be available daily at 10:00 and 15:00 and will last approximately one hour. We would recommend that clients wear sun-cream and carry drinking water. Subject to availability at time of booking.
3rd Jan – 8th Aug 2023 – US $60 per adult a AND 9th Aug Onwards – US $70 per adult
Ol Pejeta Junior Rangers
Children aged between 4 and 12 years can become an Ol Pejeta Junior Ranger for a day by purchasing one of the exciting Junior Ranger Packs. The pack includes an activity booklet, crayons and stickers all contained within a special Ol Pejeta bag. As you journey through the Conservancy, the idea is to work through all of the questions and games in the booklet. At the end of your journey, the Tourism Team at Morani Information Center will be waiting for you and will ask you to repeat the official ranger oath, before presenting you with a ranger hat, a certificate and an honorary pin.
Price: [TBA – currently suspended]
Dogs are imperative in anti-poaching efforts and each dog at Ol Pejeta’s K9 unit has a different specialty – from tracking the scent of a poacher, to detecting ammunition and attacking and detaining potential suspects. Meet these amazing dogs during a tour of the kennels and later see them in action during the dog tracking activity. Visitors are encouraged to try and evade the sniffer dogs. Visitors can run, jump, twist, turn and find somewhere to hide within the confines of the Morani Information Center area and see if the bloodhounds can seek you out. Not only is this great fun , but the activity also helps in keeping the skills of the dogs in sharp shape. This two-hour-long activity starts at 8.30 am from the Morani Information Centre. It is recommended that clients wear closed shoes and carry sunscreen and a hat. Clothing should be of neutral color.
3rd Jan – 8th Aug 2023 – US $60 per adult a AND 9th Aug Onwards – US $70 per adult
Where to Stay in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
There are a few accommodation options to choose from within Ol Pejeta. Some are managed by the park (camping, The Stables & Pelican House), whilst the rest are privately owned.
Camping: There are 5 campsites to choose from(Mbogo, Hippo Hide, Murera Ndonga, Ewaso, Ol Lerai). This is the cheapest option starting from 1300 KES. You will need to bring your own equipment and you will have to drive there.
The Stables: This is one of the more budget oriented accommodations in the park (pictured above). We stayed here on our first night and it was great – quite basic, but perfectly comfortable. We paid $110 a night for a double room, full board.
Pelican House: This is a self-catering house that sleeps 8 people (but can fit 12 with extra beds added). You can bring your own food and cook for yourself, hire a cook to help or opt for the fully catered option. For self-catering, prices range from $80 – $100 per adult (depending on the number of people)/$50 per child, per night. A chef is an additional $50 per day. For fully a fully catered experience, expect to pay $130 – $150 per adult/$105 per child, per night.
Rift Valley Adventures: They have 10 large tents that can sleep 2 to 12 people each, making it a great place if you have a big group. They can accommodate up to 100 people.
Sweetwaters Serena Camp: This is where we stayed on our second night in Ol Pejeta (as you can see above). I really loved it here and would highly recommend it. I’d definitely suggest getting one of the rooms that overlooks the waterhole as it’s so lovely just sitting and watching the animals coming to drink (with a G&T in hand). Prices vary dependent on the season and type of room you choose, but start at around $280 in low season.
Porini Rhino Camp: They have seven en-suite luxury tents. The camp has been designed to have minimum environmental impact. Prices from $385 per person, per night for full board on special offer.
Kicheche Laikipia Camp: The camp has 6 luxury tents with en-suite bathrooms, all centred around a waterhole. They have a family tent for 4 and offer kids activities. The camp closes in April and May. Prices range from about $520 (low season) – $765 (peak season) per person, per night.
Ol Pejeta Bush Camp: Run by Asilia Africa, they have seven eco-friendly tents on the Ewaso Ngiro River. This is a great place for families as they have a Junior Ranger Programme for kids. Prices are upwards of $450 per person, per night and they go up to around $630 in peak season.
Ol Pejeta Safari Cottages: A small, luxurious bush camp with just 4 cottages. Some of the cottages are quite large, so would be great for a group. They offer fully customised packages with private guide and chef. Prices are upwards of $450 per person, per night.
You can also stay outside the park in one of the adjoining parks or in the nearby town of Nanyuki.
Comfort Gardens Sweetwaters: This is about as close as you can get to Ol Pejeta without actually being in the park.
Le Rustique: This is a nice mid-range option in Nanyuki and would be great if you were looking to explore other places in the region, as you’ll only need to pay the park fees on the days you go in to Ol Pejeta.
Olepangi Farm: Luxurious and cosy farm in the foothills of Mount Kenya. They have exquisite rooms and a gorgeous infinity pool. 2 night minimum stay. You can find their rates here.
Mutara Camp: Don’t let the name fool you. This is a luxury glamping site, rather than a campsite located just outside Ol Pejeta in the Mutara Conservancy. They have an absolutely beautiful infinity pool with incredible views of the park. Rooms starts at around $600 per night.
You can find more options in Nanyuki and the surrounding areas here.
*Prices are approximate, as of March 2022. The prices quoted are generally for non-residents. Kenyan residents can usually get cheaper rates.
Things To Do in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
There are so many great things to do in Ol Pejeta that you will not get bored! Some of their usual activities are on hold due to Covid-19, but there are still plenty of activities on offer.
Meet the Northern White Rhinos
We got the opportunity to get up close to Fatu and Najin, the last two Northern White Rhinos in existence. They are the daughter and granddaughter of Sudan, the last male of their kind who died in 2018. This was a very moving and beautiful experience.
Ride With Rhinos
One of the other activities we did was to go horse riding through the reserve. When we told my mother-in-law what we were doing, she thought we were ‘riding’ rhinos. Please be assured that we were NOT riding the rhinos and they’d probably kill you if you attempted it.
This was an awesome experience… a little bit scary, but great! At one point my horse got a little bit too close to two of the rhinos that were lying down and they jumped up causing my horse to bolt briefly. I managed to get him under control within a second, but both of us were a little nervous after that.
Visit the Morani Information Centre (FREE)
If you want to learn about the history of Ol Pejeta and the animals in the park, it’s worth taking a trip to the Morani Centre.
Visit the Chimps at the Sweetwater Chimpanzee Sanctuary (FREE)
Chimpanzees are not indigenous to Kenya, however, there is a chimpanzee sanctuary within the park. You can visit between 8.30 am and 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm and 4.30pm and it’s free.
They used to offer a ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour during their feeding times at 7.30 am, 12 pm & 4.30 pm – this cost $90 for adults and $45 for kids, but I’m not sure if this is running currently due to Covid-19.
Go Lion Tracking
We didn’t see any lions during our trip, but if they’re top of your list, you can book a specific lion tracking safari. During the activity, you will help the rangers gather information on these beautiful cats.
Meeting Baraka the blind black rhino in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Elephant in Ol Pejeta
Visit Baraka the Blind Black Rhino (FREE)
If you visit the Morani Centre (the visitors centre and restaurant) you can go and meet Baraka, a blind black rhino. He lost one eye during a fight and the other to cataracts and is unable to live in the wild, so he lives in the reserve. You can go meet and feed him between 10.30 am and 6.00 pm. He’s super sweet.
The of the most unique activities in Ol Pejeta is the opportunity to spend time with the K9 anti-poaching unit during their tracking practice activities. They encourage you to try and hide from the sniffer dogs… try being the operative word.
Take a Guided Bush Walk
Taking a bush walk is a great experience and very different from doing a safari in a car. The rangers will point out the subtleties of the bush, including animal tracks, birds, plants and droppings – the things you might miss in the car.
Run the Wild
Fancy taking a 5km – 7km run through the park? Then why not take a run with Ol Pejeta’s rangers. You will likely see wildlife on your run too.
Sunrise over Mount Kenya as seen from Ol Pejeta Conservancy with an elephant in the foreground
Go on a Game Drive
We had an amazing morning game drive in Ol Pejeta. Our guide picked us up at around 6.30 am and we were out in time to watch the most beautiful sunrise over Mount Kenya.
During the morning we got to see elephants, rhinos and tons of giraffes, but my favourite sighting were the hyenas. Two of the babies were very intrigued by our car and were curiously sniffing all around us.
They offer game drives through the day and at night.
Learn About Livestock Wildlife Integration
If you want to learn about the way Ol Pejeta manages their livestock and creates biodiversity hotspots, then you can spend a couple of hours with the team. Visitors can take part in some of the daily activities, visit the ‘predator proof’ cattle bomas and see the herd.
Become a Junior Ranger for the Day
If you have kids aged between 4 and 12, they can become a Junior Ranger for the day – this is exactly what I mean about Ol Pejeta being great for families.
You can pick up a pack that includes an activity book, crayons, stickers and a bag. The kids can then work through the activities and games as they explore the park. At the end, they’ll receive a ranger hat, certificate, and an honorary pin.
Walk the Ol Pejeta Nature Trail (FREE)
If you fancy stretching your legs, you can do so along the nature trail on the Ewaso Nyiro River. If you’d prefer to go with a guide you can hire one for a small fee.
Visit the Equator Sign (FREE)
On your way in or out of the park, make a quick stop by the equator sign for a picture.
Visit Nanyuki Town
On the surface, Nanyuki is your average, busy Kenyan town… but I actually really like Nanyuki. It’s got all the home comforts and there’s so much cool stuff within relatively easy reach, I feel like it would be quite a cool place to live.
The Cedar Mall is a good place to pick up supplies and they have a Java House (it’s about as close to Starbucks as you can get in Kenya), so you can get your coffee fix. We also had a really nice meal at Jib’s Cafe Bistro.
Sweetwaters Serena Breakfast Buffet
Where to Eat & Drink in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
All of the accommodations in the park offer full-board options. If you’re staying outside the park, again, most places offer full board or you can eat at one of the restaurants in Nanyuki town.
If you’re camping you can cook for yourself. But if cooking for yourself doesn’t sound that appealing, you can eat at Morani’s Restaurant at the Morani Centre which is open from 7.30 am – 5 pm. They also do takeaways and frozen meals that you can prepare at your campsite.
We ate at Moranis one day for lunch and it was very nice.
What to wear in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
What to wear in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
What to Wear in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta is at altitude so it can get chilly in the evenings and on early morning safaris (that’s me freezing my butt off in the photo above on the right – I forgot my down jacket that morning and it looks much warmer than it was), so I would recommend bringing some warm clothing.
For safari, I generally recommend comfy clothes. Thick pants and long-sleeved shirts are good because they will protect against mozzies or tsetse flies.
If you are planning to go on one of the walking or riding safaris, I’d recommend bringing some green, brown or khaki coloured clothing.
If you’re in the car on safari, flip flops are fine, but I always recommend closed shoes for around the lodges, especially when you are outdoors at night.
For more info, check out my full Africa Packing List.
Najin & Fatu, the last two Northern White Rhinos
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Ol Pejeta?
The daily park fees for Ol Pejeta:
Non-Residents: $90 (adults) & $45 (kids aged 3 – 11)
East Africa Citizens: 1400 KES (adults) & 700 KES (kids aged 3 – 11)
East Africa Residents: 2600 KES (adults) & 1300 KES (kids aged 3 – 11)
If you’re driving in your own car, you’ll need to pay the vehicle fee which is $5 per day.
Our costs for 2 people for 2 nights were as follows:
Park Fees: $360
Vehicle Fee: $10
Accommodation at The Stables x 1 night: $110
Accommodation at Sweetwaters Serena Lodge x 1 night: $280
Activities: $329 (1/2 Day Game Drive, Ride with Rhinos & Meet the Nothern White Rhinos)
Food & Drink: $30 (this was lunch at Morani’s Restaurant and a couple of drinks at the hotel)
All of our meals were included with the hotels, however, we ate lunch at Morani’s Restaurant one day and bought some extra drinks at the bars at the hotels. We also took some alcohol with us which saved a little bit of money.
Our car hire fees and petrol were on top of this.
Total Spent for 2 People: $1,179
Hyena in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
How to Book a Trip to Ol Pejeta
You can book and pay for park fees, vehicle fees, activities and some accommodation directly on the Ol Pejeta website. For the other accommodations, you can book direct with them or by emailing the booking team at Ol Pejeta. Some lodges offer packages and can help you to arrange activities too.
I would recommend booking your activities in advance, especially the more popular ones like visiting the